Category Archives: new parents

“That’s great kid, don’t get cocky!”

So since my ‘flashblog’ on International Day of the Girl  I have been thinking of stories, reviews and little tit bits of information that may help other parents or at least make others think “oh good, it’s not just me that does that” to get the blog writing going again.

I am a big believer in the phrase/campaign “Dads don’t babysit, it’s called parenting!” Which took off when Al Ferguson of The Dad Network  posted a pic of himself wearing a t-shirt with the slogan on it. We’ve come a long way since the cave dwelling man be hunter gatherer, lady bear child and make home days (although comments from potential world leaders and his supporters would suggest some people still call the cave of sexism home). My dad did very little parenting so I have very little reference to go by when it comes to being a dad. I am flying by the seat of my pants with no ‘role model’ per se and making it up as I go along (like most first time parents I guess?).

When I had the chance to have a whole weekend with the mini human for the first time it was daunting for sure, but I was also full of ideas of how we could spend our time together, how I could be a parent NOT a babysitter. During my wife Karen’s maternity leave I was jealous of the coffee and cake dates, visits to play areas, swimming lessons and a host of other exciting things she would do with baby Bea. I am now acutely aware this time wasn’t all fun and giggles and the dirty nappies, sick, crying, all round tiredness, very little adult conversation etc was the buzzkill of this time.

So, a whole weekend, let’s make the most of our time together little one. Now this first solo parenting weekend was a while ago but I do recall deciding against the ‘substitute childcare’ of a Disney DVD and visiting a cafe for coffee and cake. This trip led to Bea being the centre of attention, she would wave at waitresses as they past us and she had a little milky moustache from her babycino which led to a number of laughs and plenty of cooing from all that witnessed her milky Poirot tash. The engagement with the waiting staff ultimately ended up in a free chocolate lolly for me, er I mean Bea (Don’t judge me, she was too small then to REALLY appreciate chocolate anyway)

We visited the local park, we watched a film together (ok so I gave in to Disney Daycare, she lasted 30 minutes before wanting to climb the bookcase), we did some arts and crafts, we even me PETER RABBIT!!! I loved it, she loved it.

pr

A pretty chuffed mini person meeting Big Pete!

Post bath time I was getting her ready for bed, we watched that insane programme In The Night Garden and as I reflected on our day I text Karen to say what a lovely day it had been and how well behaved Bea was.

Oh what a rookie mistake that was, I jinxed my evening with one simple (probably slightly cocky “this parenting lark is easy peasy lemon squeezey “) text.  It is not easy it is “difficult difficult lemony difficult” – we had full on baby rage 4 minutes after I put her to bed, standing up, throwing toys literally out of the cot, hitting the bars on the cot so much so that the house sounded like it was collapsing around us. On the 5th time of going upstairs to comfort her I was close to breaking point. I tried everything I had, new nappy, more milk, different bed covers. Placing her back down into the cot I had everything crossed (metaphorically and literally… They don’t tell you in ante natal class that going to the toilet is no longer a free choice when you have a kid, it is all about timing and distraction techniques) her head rested on the pillow, I crept out of the room and paused by the door…

What happened next is something that I have never done since and will never do again.

Our baby monitor has an intercom setting which we had never used before, as well as a camera that lets us check on little one whenever we feel the need (in those first few months this checking was almost every 30 seconds). Seconds passed and I could see she was standing again, screaming again, red and blotchy with rage face again. So pressing the intercom button, which gave me a live feed to her room I clearly and concisely said “Beatrix. Go. To. Sleep. Plllllease!”

Now imagine you’re in your bedroom, your place of sanctuary from the craziness of the world outside, you have just closed your book, or put down your phone ready to nod off and a voice, an omnipresent voice calls out to you. I know I would shit myself… Well yeah, turns out that a baby with no concept of intercoms, or what daddy’s voice will sound like coming from that blue light in the corner of the room will shit herself too. Not before a pause, one where she looked truly panicked, and me seeing this grief stricken face quick as a flash thinking “Oh bollocks! Now you’ve done it.”

I think I managed to have my wee and eat some food around 10.30pm having got in from a drive which was my last resort in getting the mini human to sleep, she nodded off about 5 minutes into this MUST GET BABY TO SLEEP mission (typical). I sent a text to my wife to explain the debacle and I nodded off ready for day two with slightly less enthusiasm to day one.

 

Flash forward many months and I am on a best friends hen do (gender equality runs deep with me and my friends), surrounded by good friends and new acquaintances we are chatting about pregnancy, babies and parenthood in general. A couple of the mums there had left their husbands in charge for the weekend like I was for ‘Intercom Night’. They were discussing how their husbands were “cheating” by helping each other out, arranging to have dinner together with the mini humans.

It was then I had a question pop into my head, one that if I asked I would be crossing a line, one that I may not be able to return from… One that could lead to an insight so shocking that it could turn day into night, dogs and cats would hug not fight, people would put cheese on their spuds before the beans. The response could be shocking!

I plucked up the courage, for all the dads out there I grasped this chance to ask the mums who were all sat around me “So when you leave the babies with us [Dads and partners], do you actually hope we fail a bit at parenting, do you hope we have a terrible time when you’re not around?”

BOOM!!! A deafening silence fell across the group… I feared I had pushed things too far, I’d taken advantage of my position at this time within the inner sanctum of motherhood. Then the reply, a reply that makes total sense, a reply that links both the special times and those buzzkill moments of parenthood.

“It’s not that we WANT you to fail, we just want you to have the tantrums, the food throwing, the leaky nappies that you sometimes miss out on. It is not all cake, coffee and play dates.” 

carnage

Carnage… Toddler style carnage.

So there we have it, not that groundbreaking at all. Whether we are the stay at home mum/dad, the one juggling work and childcare, the one that feels like you are missing the good times, parenting takes on many different guises at many different times and you have to try and share the great with the gruesome. That is parenting for me and is what separates us from the babysitters, and the cavemen.

 

Advertisements

Blogging again

According to WordPress it has been over 200 days since my last post – 2016 will be the year I do not leave it as long.

During this blogging hiatus there has been a lot of change going on around here. The mini human is just that now, a walking, kinda talking smaller version of us, with her own personality and foibles – IT IS A LOT OF FUN

During our antenatal classes the mums to be were all discussing MILESTONES cards – now I will be honest when the concept of different cards that baby ‘holds’ whenever a major milestone is hit and we then snap a photo of this moment providing a chronological image diary was described to me I didn’t see the point of them!? However, once we started to use them, and I could stage some of the photos for comedy value (well I found them funny!) then I have to admit I started to warm to the idea.  My wife has printed some of the milestone moments and has put them in a frame together and they look great – if nothing else it is nice having lots of pictures of the youngling in different stages of her first year.

 

IMG_2472

Milestone Card Moments

iPhone 6s Oct 2015 - Jan 2016 1081

There are, thankfully, some milestone cards that have not been produced – I may have to set up my own line of inappropriate milestone moments…

Weaning off bottles and onto solid food was fun. I say fun. I mean messy. I say messy. I mean some of our walls have been ‘redecorated’ with food produce permanently.

iPhone 6s Oct 2015 - Jan 2016 1091

Messy eating/redecorating.

iPhone 6s Oct 2015 - Jan 2016 1090

So we began the journey with liquidised food, as previous blogs mention we used a fair amount of Ella’s pouches in this process. Some of the combos of food were fantastic and I think at times baby ate better than we did. All power to those that make their own concoctions, my wife tried, but got so disheartened to see that’s after spending ages on her flavours and prep work the meal size portions come out of the freezer, defrost and then end up on the floor or the walls!

We moved onto the pouches to save the sanity of the whole family.

So spoon feeding was an experience, at the same time Bea was entering a crazy flailing left arm phase!? Seriously, her left arm seemed to have a mind of its own for about a month. You could load up a spoon full of Sunday Roast in liquid form from the pouch and before you know it, quicker than Ali in his prime; the sting from our Bea was the crazy left arm swipe and food was everywhere!

We then moved on to the milestone of wanting to hold the spoon to feed herself, this upgraded at times to chucking the spoon aside and grabbing the pouch and squeezing the contents into her mouth.

Spoon-less eating quickly followed – who has time for spoons when you can grab handfuls of food and face palm it into your mouth and surrounding area? We know the handling of food, the schmooshing up of food and even the throwing of food is all part of experimentation; and touch and texture is as important as smell and taste. However, when you see baked beans thrown up the kitchen wall you do question the educational value of it all.

Weaning onto solid foods milestone – tick

Hand gestures such as clapping and waving are now a regularity. In the early days a wave was met with celebration (from us) she looked super pleased with herself so waving at everything became her thing. Wave at lamp, wave at car, wave at DVD case, wave at reflection in the mirror.

Teaching the high 5 was a personal highlight, again followed by much celebration from me, which led to clapping from her, so much so that when giving the gesture for high 5 she would get ahead of herself and just clap. This often left me hanging, with her looking to any bystander like she was just sarcastically clapping me.

Now, she will happily clap at gameshows when the audience do, wave when you say “hello” or “bye bye” we have even moved onto the high 10!

During my wife’s maternity leave Karen and Bea attended ‘sing and sign’ classes together. I attended once and it seemed like a lot of ladies singing while waving their hands about while the babies crawled around eating toys. BUT the classes have totally paid off.

One night a few months ago we were woken by screams of terror from Bea’s room, both running in to comfort her we lifted her from the cot bed to have a cuddle. As we did she made a hand gesture, one we knew, one we had been using to sign for milk for many months. She was telling us she needed/wanted some milk. Quickly some was made up in a bottle and she latched on as if she hadn’t eaten for days. All parents think their kids are a genius sure, but could she be a total brain box with stuff like this?

Non-verbal communication – tick (with a high five)

I achieved my own milestone, one I don’t think I would want to do too often. About 9 months after Bea was born (to coin a Mickey Flannigan term) I went out out!!! I woke up on the floor of our bathroom at 4am, it was one of ‘those’ nights. The hangover the morning after was pretty horrific, and I was left in charge of the mini human. She could sense my pain, and seemed to want to add to it. Eye gouging, face slapping, fish hooking and beard pulling. Lesson learnt, never again… until next time.

iPhone 6s Oct 2015 - Jan 2016 1087

The abuse of a hungover father.

Hungover childcare – tick

Linked to this semi non appropriate parenting, is another story I am not massively proud of, but will probably be part of my father of the bride speech if/when one is needed.

Our little one gets a bit clingy every now and then. If we dare to disappear to the toilet for example she wants to follow us, weirdly transfixed by the running water from the tap when we wash our hands. Now picture the scene (but not too vividly as you will discover shortly); home alone, I am in need of a number 1. Having left the door open to appease the clingy one, in she walks. First up, she heads to the loo roll and does her best Andrex puppy impression unraveling it so it ends up covering the floor at my feet. Then… Uh oh. She notices running liquid, this time not from a tap, from me. Outstretches her little hand between my legs to try and touch said liquid, still flowing I try to contort my body so she can get nowhere near me or my wee. It’s a milestone the books don’t tell you about or they have made a card for and one I am not sure how to define?

The walking milestone is another we can tick off. It all started on a family holiday, Bea had been standing on her own for a while, but you could sense that she was desperate to join in the fun and games, especially watching older cousins running about. The first few tentative steps were a thing of beauty, Bea looked so happy on stumbling a few steps and with us all cheering and clapping. Since then walking has become running, dancing, and attempting jumps. My only issue is how she has a tendency to use of her head as a brake!!!

iPhone 6s Oct 2015 - Jan 2016 1092

Taking Dad for a walk.

Walking milestone: tick

There are hundreds of little milestones that we have witnessed, ones that don’t have a card. We are currently smashing animal noises out of the park, now when I leave for work and ask for a kiss I get a little person running up to me and planting one on me.

More from us via

Instagram & Twitter: @inkeddaddyblog

 

Please take a seat…

Hitting the 6 months old mark got me thinking about what our little one would think if, much like in the work place when starting a new job, she held a 6 month review of us in our new role as parents. Look-whos-talking

Unfortunately I haven’t managed to invent some sort of baby telepathy technique, nor have the ‘sing & sign’ classes made her small hand gestures any more legible than her vocal murmurs and gurgles. So just humour me, think something like the movie Look Who’s Talking in a blog.

___________________________________________________________________________

Me & Wifey walk into the nursery to be met by baby sat in her bumbo seat shuffling some papers…

Baby: ahhhh Hairy Faced Man & Food Lady, please take a seat. Time for your 6 month review…

The purpose of the review is to look at your development as my minions and how to improve your subordinate roles further.

I have to say that I am on the whole happy with your commitment so far.

Food Lady, your ability to multi task is impressive. If I understand you correctly, I was in your tummy for a while. I’m not sure how this worked, or how long that happened for but since I can remember I have enjoyed our cuddles, bath times, and the stories you tell are great. When we attend what you call ‘mother and baby’ groups I have fun watching you do silly things like singing to me while doing twirly type things with your hands. You also do this thing where you walk very quickly in a circuit stopping every now and then to jump, squat and lunge!? I have to state that I am not keen on you holding the other small people that seem to attend our days out – Did you invite them? Could you not in the future, I’m keen to make sure your attention is on me at all times.

Hairy man, I’m not sure where you go during the day, but leaving Food Lady to deal with all my needs seems a little unfair. This ‘work’ you go to most mornings seems to make you tired, sometimes grubby and a bit wiffy when you come home. I will hand it to you though; you have perfected the game of throw and catch me in the air, every time I think I am falling, yet there you are ready to catch me. I like this.

When you don’t go to work and Food Lady stays in bed in the mornings the shows on the glowing box you call ‘telly’ are very colourful and I am intrigued by most of them, they become better when we sit in one of your sofa cushion dens. I think I could get into ‘Saturday morning cartoons’ in a BIG way.

Teamwork is important and you both seem to work well together, Hairy Man I think the pats on the bum you give Food Lady are good for moral, she smiles every time so keep it up. When I was being sick and you both took it in turns to stay up with me I felt safe and the kisses on my head seemed to be the magic cure. You both gained extra credit.

To test your nappy changing skills, you may have noticed I have started to wriggle and roll off the change mat – this is part of your ongoing training and development. Solid foods are exciting as I can touch and mush up the food in my hands, this means food residue will make it to every crevice I have. I will also, occasionally, stop breathing while I sleep. This will set the baby monitor alarm off, and I will be testing your response times.

I am happy with your progress, having completed your 6 month probation period I am looking forward to working together on other projects.

___________________________________________________________________________

While we are thinking of films from the late 80’s with babies in the cast, there is one more that stands out. Three Men and a Baby aka an antenatal video for future fathers, and – let’s face it – a magnificent moustache immortalised on film.

I thought I knew the film pretty well, but channel hopping a few months ago I came across it and noticed a cast member, who actually lives with us, and of whom I am not a fan!

Although she may not be listed on IMDB this image shows that Sophie La Girafe is indeed in the film.

three men

Sophie is a very popular, award winning toy across the world, and a simple google image hunt will show you countless celebrities with their babies clutching at her long neck. Used to soothe gums of teething babies. Her success, I guess, comes from her simplicity – a rubbery chew toy for babies.

My beef with Sophie is not her celebrity status; in fact we have had her in our house ever since our little began to show signs of teething and she seems to do the trick. What I have issue with is the fact that Sophie is essentially a dog toy and the reasons why you should buy Sophie according to her manufacturers are pretty pretentious at best

“We use non-toxic paint” – well I would bloody hope so, for babies or dogs this kind of paint should be used on anything that goes near the mouth

“Sophie’s squeak will teach your child cause and effect” – really? REALLY? A squeaky toy can teach my daughter that increased fossil fuel use has led to global warming? Will Sophie teach the central concept of Buddhism via the cause and effect of karma?

sophie

Dead-Eye Sophie La Girafe

Ignoring all of that, my main issue with Sophie La Girafe is that she is dead behind the eyes… she looks through you like some sort of demon, her eyes are that of a Great White Shark, they are minus any pupil or iris colouring. Other toys have a highlight, or a colour to give them a kind open kind look – a friendly looking toy you could make a up a story about. Not Dead-Eye Sophie, she just stares at you with a blank look and a cocky grin, as if to say “Yeah you got sucked in by my ‘unique’ selling points – I am a squeaky dog toy. I am worth millions, you are not, you are a mere puppet of commercialism!”

Of course this could just be the ramblings of a jealous fella… why didn’t I think of marketing a dog toy for babies!

I’m off to find ‘the next big thing’ at Pets-R-Us