5 Things I Didn’t Expect From Fatherhood…

I’m the first to admit that I was quite naive going into this whole ‘parenting thing’.

I really was.

I genuinely thought my days would be just as they were before, with a few nappy changes and the occasional bottle feed.

How dumb was I?

The answer is pretty dumb – almost Donald Trump levels of stupidity.

Thankfully I’m a quick learner. I can now change nappies with my eyes closed – not to show off, I just find I have to look at much less poo that way. All in all, I genuinely feel like some days I’m getting into the swing of this whole parenting thing. Some days. That said, there are still somethings that I do, on a daily basis, that surprise me. Moments that are a little odd, that nobody warned me about.

Here are my 5 Things I Didn’t Expect From Fatherhood:

1: I pick my son’s nose most days. 

There, I said it.

Babies, all babies, are snotty creatures. Sometimes it feels like producing snot is their actual job. Sam, like so many of his peers, produces bogies at a prodigious rate. I mean, if snot were gold we’d be millionaires.

You know that feeling you get, the slightly awkward one, where you’re talking to someone and they (unknowingly) have a bogie hanging from their nose? You don’t mention it at first, not wanting to be rude, but then you reach a point when you can’t mention it – as it’s been too long. The snot draws you in like a tractor-beam; soon you’re not hearing what they’re saying, instead you’re looking at the unwanted appendage swinging in the breeze. Well that feeling drives me nuts, and Sam’s face seldom isn’t home to (at least) a bogie or two.

With small babies (whose noses are two small to pick) there are these little vacuum pumps that you insert into your young un’s nostril and squeeze – in an attempt to dislodge the accumulated goo.  These devices are about as useful as… as… something not very useful at all. There are other bits of kit that allow you to siphon snot from your kid’s nose by inserting a tube in there and sucking on the other end. I’m sorry, but that was never going to happen.

So you can imagine my glee when Sam’s nose became large enough to pick. God there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write. Anyway, in order to keep him – relatively – snot free a good nose-picking is what I give him. The joys of fatherhood.

2: Work is ‘time off’. 

I do childcare for Sam three working days a week – he’s in nursery for the rest. My days with him are glorious, but tiring.

Oh, so tiring.

Sometimes I feel like I’m spinning plates, running around trying to do ten things simultaneously: play games, wash bottles, find toys, prep lunch – growing ever more exhausted until the plates start dropping.  These days I drop so many (metaphorical) plates the (metaphorical) floor looks like it belongs in a (metaphorical) Greek restaurant.

So my days doing work, which used to be the low-point of my week (although they were the majority of it), now feel like a period of relaxation. All I need to do is sit down and get things done, with nobody to worry about but myself. They feel luxurious.

There’s an old cartoon Click here where we see a sheep dog and Wile E. Coyote spending the day protecting and hunting sheep (respectively) – the gag is that both see this activity merely as ‘work’. Handing over Sam at nursery feels like the moment here where they both punch out of work and calm descends. It’s a great feeling. That said, I do miss the little fella during the day.

3: I’ve become competitive.

I’ve become strangely competitive. Which is strange because (generally) I’m not a competitive person. Or perhaps I see the foolishness in misplaced universal competitiveness. I’m not one of those people who feels the need to compete at everything, from ten pin bowling to getting away first from traffic lights. Why waste energy on things that are: i. Unimportant. ii. Physically or mentally draining. iii. Likely to be done better than you by a host of people? I’ve always limited my competitiveness to one or two key areas where I know I have talent, leaving the rest to those who are easily distracted by shiny things.

I have, however, become very competitive on Sam’s behalf. On our daily activities together I find myself silently comparing Sam to the other babies we encounter – always announcing Sam as the victor. Which baby has a nicer laugh? Sam. Which baby has better hair? Sam. Which baby would be most at home rollerskating in an Evian commercial? Sam.

I’m sure this will only get worse at the years roll by. As long as I don’t turn into one of those screaming dads shouting encouragement (read ‘abuse’) at Saturday football (unlikely considering how much I detest the sport) I think this should be manageable.

4: I smell poo everywhere.

Poo is a big part of my life these days (not my own). Sam’s mum and I talk about little else:

“Did he poo this morning?”

“A little.”

“How little’s little?”

“Cadbury’s Creme Egg sized.”

“OK. What colour?”

“Brown.”

“Dark brown or sandy?”

You get the idea.

I’m constantly sniffing the air to see if a nappy needs changing or (God forbid) a leakage has occurred. They say that Queen think the world smells of fresh paint, which must be awful. Wet paint gives me a headache. For me, I’m sure the entire world smells of poo. Why? i. It does. ii. I’m concerned there is an (as yet unfound) poo stain on my person, from a particularly involved nappy change. iii. I have poo tinnitus.

I’m not sure if ‘poo tinnitus’ is a ‘thing’, but if it’s not it should be!

5: Socks will always be with me…

In Star Wars there’s a line ‘The force will be with you, always…’ Click here. Fatherhood has brought me a similar thing, but with socks. “Socks will be with you, always…” Socks to a just-about-one year old are the best thing in the world. They’re right there at the end of your leg, ready to be pulled off, laughed at, shook about and discarded.

My life seems to be one long succession of putting on and picking up socks. Every item of clothing I own has one of Sam’s socks in its pockets, rescued from the floor. Seriously, his socks are everywhere, in my shoes, in my kit bag, behind the TV… I even went through a phase of using them as impromptu book marks.

The only place I rarely find socks is on Sam’s feet. And if that doesn’t sound like something a dad would say, I don’t know what does!

Still Sinking…

The Out of Depth Dad 

@Outofdepth_dad

facebook.com/OutofDepthDad/

5 stupid things I am regularly asked…

I don’t want to sound like I’m moaning…

Nobody likes to be considered a moaner, really, do they? But, as a new SAHD dad, I find myself getting asked stupid questions on a far too regular basis. So, to set the record straight, here are 10 stupid things people seem to want to ask, again and again…

1:

Are you getting much sleep?

In my former life, as a live TV producer, I used to tell my presenters that they should never ask a question that they don’t already know the answer to. It’s a useful maxim to work by. Yes, it requires pre-interview research, but it stops your guest saying something unsavoury on air.

In real life, there are some questions that just don’t need to be asked, precisely because the answer is blatantly obvious. Every person who has ever inquired of new parents: “Are you getting much sleep?” already knows the answer they will receive. Nobody, in the history of mankind, has EVER replied: “Yes, yes I am, thanks for asking. In fact, I’d recommend that insomniacs get themselves a baby – they do wonders for the old beauty sleep.”

It’s not really a question at all, is it? It is, in reality, just a chance for a third party to point out, to your face, that you’re clearly not getting much sleep as you look like crap – something every brain-frazzled, zombie-fied parent is all too well aware of!

Please, for the love of all things holy, stop asking this question. Thank you.

2:

Is he a good baby?

How exactly am I supposed to answer this? I mean really? What a stupid thing to ask! What constitutes a ‘good’ or ( heaven forbid) ‘bad’ baby? I think the nub of the question that is being so ham-fistedly approached is probably “Does he cry a lot?” – but since when did crying have anything to do with morality?

I have, on several occasions, been tempted to reply in the following way:

“Sadly no, he’s not a good baby. In fact, we’re pretty convinced that he’s bad, very bad. We don’t have the evidence to prove it yet, but his mum and I think he was pivotal in the Kennedy assassination and disappearance of Shergar.”

If you’re not looking to be greeted with extreme sarcasm, then please don’t ask this question. Once again, thank you.

3:

Who do you think he looks like?

Once again, I understand that people are trying to be nice, but please stop with this question – especially if it’s asked in front of both parents. Newborn babies, I understand, are designed to look more like their father than mother, in order for the father to stick around. It’s one of nature’s little quirks.

Yet, asking a dad to point out that the baby looks a lot more like them, in front of the mum who has probably been up most of the night feeding said child is a little awkward to say the least.

I got around this question by pointing out that if we were honest, Sam looked most like Ian Hislop – which he did. As he’s got older, Sam now (in my view) looks like his mum and I equally – in my view her beauty balances out my ‘quirkier’ features.

Please stop asking this question. Thanks again.

4:

Are you still cycling / going to the gym / yoga / building models of the Forth Rail Bridge out of matchsticks?

Whatever it was I used to do to unwind, it’s highly likely that I’m no longer doing it right now. That’s just a fact of life. I’m a keen cyclist, I find it immeasurably relaxing, but please don’t ask if I’m getting out on my bike much. These days I feel like I’m winning if I get to go to the loo by myself. Being reminded that I have no free time, or being expected to make up an excuse why I’m not ‘making time’ for such an activity is annoying at best.

While I’m on this topic, will people please stop gong on about ‘making time’! I need to ‘make time’ for me, is advice I’ve heard. And how does that work exactly? Do I need a special watch? Should I call Doc Brown? If I could ‘make time’ I’d use it for sleeping, but sadly it seems I’m stuck on the 24 hours in a day model with everyone else. Who knew?

5:

When is number 2 on the way?

Assuming this isn’t a question about my bowel movements (which frankly, are none of your business), the answer is firmly “none your business”. It amazes me that people can ask such a personal question in the smallest of talk. What possible good do questioners imagine will come from harassing parents, knackered from the demands of the child they already have, by prodding them to have another?

I have no idea if Sam will be an only child or not. What I do know is that I won’t be rushing home to Sam’s mum, saying: “Mrs Brown at the Post Office says we better get a move on and have a second one, so we’d better take her advice!”

I’m quite content with my lovely family as it is, thank you very much. So please stop asking. Thanks again.

***

Sorry for a particularly moan-y post. I’m sure next time I’ll be all sweetness and light… mainly because (with a bit of luck) people might have stopped asking me stupid questions!

Still Sinking…

The Out of Depth Dad

www.facebook.com/OutofDepthDad

@Outofdepth_dad

 

 

 

Time gentlemen please!

I spend a lot of time scratching my head.

No, I don’t have lice; not that I know of, at least.

I scratch my head, because, for the life of me, I can’t figure it out. What on earth did I do with all that free time I had before Sam arrived?

I mean seriously?

I don’t remember feeling like I had loads of free time. Quite the opposite in fact. My biggest memories of the years before the little one’s arrival are of stress at not being able to fit all the work into one day.

I’ve always been a worrier, so ‘turning off’ is something of an issue. I never turned off before Sam (about work, at least). Yet, even so, I must have had some free time? I don’t remember it, but it must have been there.

Don’t get me wrong, I went to the pub, I went out on my bike and I watched the telly. I remember doing all of that. These are all activities that these days seem to belong to the Halcyon times of long ago (except the telly bit…  I still watch it, in a half-asleep zombie-like state). Yet I don’t ever recall feeling like I had loads of time on my hands – great yawning expanses of minutes with nothing to fill them, nothing except any whim that took my fancy.

“Why am I getting all philosophical?” – I hear you cry *.

*Note: I don’t actually hear you. It’s a figure of speech. I haven’t lost the plot – yet.

Anyway, what am I talking about time for?

Well as a dad of a baby, it’s the thing that I seem to lack the most. Time to do anything that isn’t baby-related. It’s just weird. Eating, drinking, walking, talking, washing… even going to the loo are all hurried affairs usually observed by Sam, who’s always on the verge of either crying or getting his mitts onto something he shouldn’t. Trust me, it doesn’t make for a relaxing time.

I know that those of you who’ve been parents for years will scoff at this.  “Why is he stating the bloody obvious?”, you’ll cry.  It’s just I didn’t realize this would be the case. I genuinely thought I’d have a baby who’d sleep 23 hours of the day, who’d then magically transform into a kid who wants to go out on bike rides and play computer games. I didn’t envisage my current situation, where, in order to get long enough to write this post,  I’ve deployed white noise, lullabies, a dummy, along with much cooing and head stroking to get Sam to sleep for around 20 minutes.

I’m not complaining. Well I am, a bit. But I don’t expect sympathy. I know as Sam grows, I’ll eek back time into my life. Who knows, by the time he’s five  I might be able to watch a movie without interruption. That’s my five year plan, impressive eh?

Maybe.

I’ll tell you something. When time drifts back into my life again, I’m going to enjoy it.

Got to go, Sam’s awake. Time for a walk, I think.

 

Still Sinking…

The Out of Depth Dad. 

@Outofdepth_dad

Daddy Brain…

I’m not saying that pre-Sam I was some kind of intellectual super-power.

Far from it.

I’m the type of guy who gets quite smug after answering a few questions correctly on The Chase (my favourite Chaser, should you want to know, is The Governess. I don’t have a good reason for this. I probably should stop there).

University Challenge leaves me universally challenged.

As for Mastermind, I think I’d fall down on the General knowledge – I know nothing about Generals*.*

**That was what’s known in the trade as a ‘Dad Joke’. Since Sam’s arrival I am (officially) allowed to tell them – joy!

Anyway, despite not being a candidate for Eggheads, I always prided myself on having a brain that worked – kind of.

All that has changed since the arrival of our little monkey. I have a suspicion this occurrence is the result of a combination of lack of sleep (the standard parenting complaint) and being permanently unnaturally enthusiastic – unnatural for me, quite a monotone Northerner.

Together these elements have created what I like to call ‘Daddy Brain’.

I’ll give you an example of how ‘Daddy Brain’ manifests itself:

Yesterday I went to the loo. Quite a mundane activity, I’m sure you’ll agree. I won’t give details of whether this featured an odd or even number. Anyway, I did what came naturally and flushed the toilet. On doing so, for no good reason, I said out loud:

“There’s a good boy! Well done.”

I was on my own. Seriously. Sam is nowhere near being ready for toilet training. Why I said it is beyond me. Sadly, it got worse. For some reason, saying this caused me to roar with spontaneous laughter. Laughing by yourself in the loo is not (in our culture) regarded as a good thing. My other half called through the bathroom door to check if I was OK – all I could do in reply was snigger.

That’s Daddy Brain for you.

Another Daddy Brain incident happened to me when, at 7 in the morning I made my way to the kitchen to make a brew. I opened a bag of ground coffee and, rather than emptying it into a the jar, I emptied the whole thing into the cafetiere. Once more this triggered deranged laughter from me, and concerned inquiries from my other half upstairs.

The strangest incidence of Daddy Brain occurred to me today. I was going around the supermarket, alone, and without consciously being aware of it I was singing (loudly) “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands!”

When I say that I was singing loudly, I’m not lying. In fact, I was singing with such gusto that, just as I passed the dairy section,  another customer joined in with my rendition.

Before, in my pre-Daddy days, this would have been so embarrassing to me that I would have stopped, dumped my basket and run home to hide. With Daddy Brain, that didn’t happen, We harmonized for a moment before I continued with my shopping.

It was all very strange.

So that’s Daddy Brain for you. I can’t wait to see what I do tomorrow, something weird, no doubt.

Still Sinking…

The Out of Depth Dad.

@Outofdepth_dad

I only went and forgot the bloomin’ pram!

The case in my defence m’lud.

I’d just dropped Sam off at nursery. This job involves winding my way up a very inhospitable road, filled with dog poo, too narrow pavements and perilously fast driving numb-skulls. I’d handed Sam over and breathed a sigh of relief. Now my day was to begin.

I worked through the mental list of things I needed to do. By ‘mental list’ I mean a list in my mind, rather than a list of ‘mental’ things (i.e. strip naked and climb a lamppost – which I’ve never done, honest.) My ‘to do’ list was extensive, ranging from work emails, people to chase up and things to write, all the way through to ironing, hoovering and maybe a sly nap*.

* As a side note, naps are now officially my favourite thing. The idea of a quick, totally impromptu snooze is bliss. If only I could persuade Sam to take more of them!

Anyway, I was wandering down the road, avoiding the dog poo and hopping on and off the too narrow pavements when a the strangest of feelings hit me. I felt almost like I’d forgotten something. I did the usual patting process. You know the one… phone, wallet, keys…

They were all there.

As I don’t carry anything else of value. I came to the conclusion I was having anxiety about forgetting something for no good reason. It was probably due to sleep deprivation. I made the mental note to move a cheeky nap up my ‘to do’ list – I was clearly in need of one.

I got to the front gate, nicely sidestepping the massive poo left in the middle of the path by some kind local and their dog (I realise I make a big assumption here… but I hope there was a dog involved). I got my keys out, unlocked the front door and stepped inside. It wasn’t until I was halfway through making myself a cup of coffee that I had a pang that something was wrong.

I stepped into the dining room, where the pram is usually kept and was about to call out to Sam’s mum: “Where’s the pram?”

When I remembered I’d left it outside the nursery.

I’m glad Sam was at nursery, because, for a moment or two, the air was filled with the type of language that I’d really prefer that he didn’t hear.

Profanities liberally scattered around the house, I charged out again, avoiding the poo once more and wound my way up the awkward road to the nursery. As I walked I prayed that somehow I might retrieve said perambulator without anyone noticing. I’d grab it and head home, and no more would be said. No embarrassing conversations, nothing.

Is that what happened?

Of course it didn’t! The first person I met was the owner of the nursery. A lovely chap who grinned widely on seeing my sheepish return.

“You can leave that there all day if you like,” he said, kindly.

“It’s fine,” I replied, channeling my inner teenager. “I’ll take it…”

“Did you forget it?” the owner asked.

“Yes…” I muttered.

“Happens all the time.”

As I walked back home, winding along the awkward pavement, dodging the poos and recently lobotomized drivers – is 50 really a good speed to travel at on a road with a blind turn and no room for overtaking? – I comforted myself I hadn’t done ‘A Cameron’*

I mean I felt embarrassed enough forgetting the pram, how would I have felt forgetting Sam?

*David Cameron, ex-British Prime Minister, once famously left one of his young children at a country pub, and went home, forgetting them.

From now on I’ve decided to add a few items to my checklist: phone…wallet…keys… pram… Sam.

Luckily the last two objects on this list rhyme. Fingers crossed I can remember at least four of the five most days. Parenting, I’ve discovered, is all about setting yourself achievable goals.

Still Sinking

The Out of Depth Dad

@Outofdepth_dad

 

 

 

 

Groundhog Day…

I feel like I may have written this post before. If I have, please forgive me.

It’s just at the moment, life seems to be one long familiar blur. I’m serious. I feel like I’ve done, seen and heard everything before. This must be what Enya feels like whenever she steps into a recording studio.

Monotony, I’ve learned, is not a board game where you try and buy up all the stations before your brother. In fact, if it were a game, ‘bored’ would be a far more appropriate spelling. My days seem like a never-ending treadmill of very similar events. I’ve asked around, I’m not the only parent who feels this way.

Let me take you through my Groundhog Day.

*I’m up, before I’m fully awake, around 5.30 to 6 am.

* Either my partner or I change a nappy. How one small boy could produce so much pee is beyond me. I marvel at the absorption abilities of the boffins at Pampers, wondering why they don’t get into the flood protection business.

* Coffee is made, and consumed like it is the antidote to some extremely potent sleeping poison. More is produced. I feel like Bono during his solo spots on U2 tours – glad to have taken off The Edge.

* Sam is fed. By fed I mean baby rice is smeared everywhere, with some (occasionally) landing in his mouth. We clean him up making a mental note to re-wallpaper at some point (we won’t).

* Our breakfast is bolted down – trying to ensure we’re out of the house by the time tiredness hits the boy. Tiredness has already hit us.

* We discuss whether or not Sam has poo’d. Much time is spent on this most fascinating of subjects. Size, consistency, colour are all mentioned. I feel like a sommelier for bowel movements (in this case pronounced ‘Smellier’).

* The day proper begins – a haze of walks, play, nursery rhymes and attempting to feed Sam – covering the walls again. Every day will include:

1) Sam’s mum or I commenting on how heavy Sam has got. It’s either that or our strength has left us.

2) A comment as we remove orange food from Sam’s face that we don’t want him to turn into Donald Trump.

3) A comment that it won’t be long until we can order ‘Babyccinos’ for Sam.

4) A discussion about whether there’s an ambient bad smell or it’s just Sam’s filled his nappy.

5) A whist-ful discussion about sleep.

6) One of us discovering the other has a snot/sick about their person that they haven’t noticed.

* Around 6pm the day hits critical mass. It’s downhill from here. Sam has his dinner – more punishment for the wallpaper – and it’s bath time.

* Bath time ends with me making a mental note to do something about my knees, which are struggling with all the kneeling down it requires.

* Story and bedtime. These are always accompanied by a comment about how expensive kids’ books are and how glad we are we either received them as presents or hand-me-downs.

* Dinner, in front of the TV. With one eye on the baby monitor. Silently praying we have a moment or two’s peace.

*9pm bed. Rock and roll eh?

* 9pm – 5.30am multiple disruptions, very little sleep.

* I’m up, before I’m fully awake, around 5.30 to 6 am.

So that’s my day.

It’s proving increasingly difficult to tell days apart. I feel a little like an actor who has performed a play so frequently he suddenly has no idea whether he said his next line already or if that was yesterday.

Essentially I living my entire life on the channel Dave ja vu.

Was there a point to all of this? Probably not.

I feel like I may have written this post before. If I have please forgive me.

Still Sinking…

The Out of Depth Dad

@Outofdepth_dad

The Wall

It was going to happen at some point.

There was an inevitability about it, like death, taxes or a Davina McCall workout video in January. At some point I was going to hit ‘The Wall’.

Well mark it in your diary, today was that day.

What am I on about?

‘The Wall’ is the point in which Marathon runners feel they can’t go on. They feel like there is a literal impediment stopping them from continuing. To get scientific for a moment, ‘The Wall’ is when an athlete becomes hypoglycemic – they literally have no energy left. As an insulin dependent diabetic myself I understand all about ‘hypo’s as they’re known. Ironically I had one today, but that’s another matter – several Jelly Babies followed by beans on toast (the glamour) sorted me out.

Anyway, back to the case in point. When you hit ‘The Wall’ you just can’t continue, you can’t imagine continuing without some extra energy. You’re spent, running on empty. In parenting terms that’s what happened to me today.

Sam is a trooper, let me say that from the outset. He’s still, on the whole, a very smiley baby. He is, however, currently suffering from conjunctivitis, a viral infection (yes, another one) and major teething. Combined these factors mean that sleeping is a little bit like Robbie Williams having a career in the US – it’s a nice idea, but it was never really going to happen.

In a foggy haze of little or no sleep, Sam’s mum and I are plodding forward as zombie dispensers of Calpol. For the record, Sam REALLY doesn’t like Calpol. I can’t understand it. As a kid, I have clear memories of feigning illness just to get some Calpol. I always felt it would make a great mixer “A double vodka and Calpol please!” – I’m joking, don’t do that!

Anyway,today, there was a 10 minute window where I sat down, next to a bawling, snotty Sam and wondered where… on Earth… I was going to get the energy to continue from. Every sinew of my body was crying out for sleep.

I knew parenthood was going to be tough. I had no illusions about that, but come on guys, seriously? How exactly has this species survived for so long with babies that are SO high maintenance?

I felt sorry for myself for 10 minutes, with Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’ swirling inside my head. It was at that point that Sam’s mum entered the room. If I was tired then I know that she was T-I-R-E-D! At that point, like a Marathon runner who’s just knocked back some Lucozade (also useful for us diabetic types) I shook it off and here we are.

If this Out of Depth Dad can get inspiration from anyone, it’s Sam’s mum.

Tomorrow, as they say, is another day. I’ll scale the wall tomorrow… or take a bloody great sledgehammer to it.

Still Sinking…

The Out of Depth Dad

@Outofdepth_dad