Thursday 11 May 2017 – The Dad Manual.

I have been a father for almost two years now.  There have been high points and there have been low points.  But as I have learnt from my short experience, there isn’t a book, a DVD, a class, a pamphlet or a bloody professor in the land that can tell you exactly what to do and when to do it.  Dadding is something that is self taught with experience.

I have read pregnancy books that told me how you need to be a strong supportive person for your partner.  You need to remember the changes in your partners body and how hormone imbalance can create a psychotic, wide-eyed mentalist which you must bow down to and help in any way you can.  It covered everyday topics such as: leaking breasts and snotty discharge, which I had great delight in reading.  I got through the 360 page ‘manual’ feeling confident on what is required, and I finished that book and simply said to myself “parenting seems fairly straight forward”.

How wrong I was!

I remember relatives and friends telling me and Char to “enjoy being child-free while it lasts” and “go get drunk every night and enjoy sleeping in until the afternoon”.  Now I have kids, I can see exactly what they were getting at, but there are ways around everything.

Unfortunately, no book or DVD (no matter how useless already) didn’t have a chapter on any of the topics below…

Leaving the house: This is a typical thing that is humans do.  There was a time when I got out of bed, brushed me teeth and effortlessly donned whatever clothing was lying on the floor.  Sometimes I’d even venture further afield from my original destination (normally Asda), like an absolute child-less rebel!

Now: This is one of the most nerve-wracking ordeals every parent has to overcome.  If you’re going to the supermarket, a friends or relatives house, on holiday or just a walk to the park, everyone undergoes the same ritual.  You stand looking at a changing bag with its soon-to-be contents laid out next to the bag.  As you throw them into the bag, you do a mental check-list and then zip it up quickly so you don’t empty it and start over.  Next, you make sure the kids are fully dressed and kitted out in ‘outside world’ protective clothing, with a good two or three full turns of bubble-wrap on top.  You then make sure the pram is well oiled and is robust enough to withstand an hour’s walk-around the local supermarket.  You triple check that you yourself are dressed, and you quadruple check that you have the house keys in your pocket, with a spare set in your sock.  The kid(s) are loaded into the pram, the door seal is broken and you go forth into no-mans-land…  Only to return 30 minutes later because you forgot your bank card.

Dinner Time: I’m a man.  We all know the fastest way to a man’s heart – food.  I love the stuff, and if you saw me in person, you’d know this statement was true.  I’m not super fat, but my man-jugs got a jiggle that don’t quit.  Any time of day is food time in my eyes.  Me and Char would eat an array of cuisines, from fish and chips to pizza to spaghetti bolognese! – alright it’s not super adventurous, but we are British with a slight hint of Italian by the looks of it.  We didn’t mess around.  I even had a cheeky custard cream (or 6) with a cup of tea for afters!

Now: We can only eat what Noah can eat, because we save him some for the next evening.  What I mean by what Noah can eat is simple foods, non-spicy foods.  Or anything that would make him shit through the eye of a needle.  The menu is not boring by any means, but it does mean we eat a lot more vegetables now.  We still have spaghetti bolognese but the sauce has sliced carrots in it.  We still have fish and chips but it isn’t the heart attack inducing, shop bought (tasty as fuck) fish and chips anymore.  It’s a non-battered cod with home made wedgies.  And I haven’t seen a pizza enter my house in over a year.  On the plus side, it is healthier and I’m all about that (kind of), but you can’t beat a cookie every now and then.

Sex: A topic that is up there with food in my world.  Everyone enjoys a bit of hanky-panky and we are no different.

Now: I’m not saying that our sex life has diminished because that isn’t the case whatsoever.  But you turn into a bat when you have kids in the house and you both fancy “a bit of that”.  The bedroom is the only real option you have left to “do it” in.  There are toys in every other room in the house, and I think having sex next to a Bing soft toy would be a bit weird.  That also means venturing upstairs (unless you don’t have an upstairs but don’t worry, this still applies), and there are things that you must first make sure are in order.  This is where the bat-like supersonic hearing comes in.  You have to be aware of:  That one creaky floor board you must avoid at all costs.  Finding the least creaky part of the bed to do the business.  Closing the door but not fully closed, in case you need to tip-toe to the toilet afterwards and the sound of the door handle wakes the monsters.  If you have a webcam baby monitor, face it down flat on the bedside table, or 180 turn it so it’s facing the wall.  Then, get it over with as soon as you can before any “goo goo gaa gaa’s” begin to break the delicate, intended silence!  Who said romance is dead?

Doing a poo: Having a poo is a real enjoyment for me personally.  I treat it as a time to reminisce, read or just simply play Clash of Clans.  I could decide when I wanted to flush (and wash my hands obviously) before returning downstairs to make a cup of tea and finish reading my book.  On average, I think my toilet trips before kids were 20 minutes.  Char lived my toilet breaks because she could watch one of her TV programmes without me telling her that it’s absolute bollocks.

Now: I have mastered the art of pooing to about 2 minutes and 14 seconds.  Now, it isn’t so bad if Char is home because the monsters and on their own downstairs. But when it’s just me and the kids, I’m terrified of hearing a *thud* and a blood curdling scream, whilst I’m mid-poo.  Once my arse hits that toilet seat, my body goes into fight or flight mode and my faeces has 60 seconds to make an appearance, or I repeat the process again later.  Luckily, I haven’t self-inflicted a hernia just yet, but there’s always time for that!

Television: I don’t watch a huge amount of TV, I’m more of a reader.  But when I do fancy a bit of the box, I usually watch something manly like Die Hard or The Notebook.  I’d see an advert for a show on Facebook and tune into that.  The point being that I could watch anything and at anytime.

Now: The only thing my freeview box will play is CBeebies.  I haven’t used the remote to change channel for months.  The only programmes to grace our screen now are: Octonauts, Mr Tumble, Go Jetters or Postman Pat.  Oh, and when the monsters don’t fancy any of these fine pieces of TV gold, we must watch Ice Age 4.  Not only once, but at least 7 times a day!  I could write the script, animate and market Ice Age 4 better than the creators and sales team – combined.

Maybe it’s just me being grumpy and selfish.  Maybe I’m not being fair enough and require a lesson in patience.  There’s a saying which is “there’s always someone worse off than you” and maybe that’s true also, but I’ve yet to find this person.

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