Fatherhood: Feature in The Scotsman

Out today, in time for Father’s Day, here’s my piece in The Scotsman discussing the changing role of fathers in family life and how our society needs to catch up…

For the full piece, click here.

“Wait until your father gets home!”

That’s what they used to say, wasn’t it? Except in my house it was always wait until ‘your dad’ gets home – ‘father’ was a word more associated, to my young mind, with priests and Star Wars baddies.

Let’s unpack all this for a moment.

When I was growing up, ‘Dad’ was a distant figure (both emotionally and geographically) who would return from a nebulous world called ‘work’ and distribute punishment (usually of the smacked-legs variety) when ‘Mum’ had reached the end of her tether with our shenanigans.

These days, life is considerably different for many children (and their parents). I’m a stay at home dad: a phrase that often conjures images of softly spoken, hummus-addicted, Beta males who wouldn’t be considered threatening to a wet paper bag – and our bags are ALL paper, we’re far too right-on to touch anything non-biodegradable. As such, our kids don’t see dad as a distant threat, rather we are treated with the same level of familiarity (and contempt) with which kids have always regarded their mothers…”

Chris McGuire, The Scotsman

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The Dad Test ft. The Out Of Depth Dad — Father-Hood.co.uk

Sound the must-read feature klaxon! In a bid to assess the ‘dadliness’ of celebrity dads and popular dad bloggers, I’ve created a fun Q&A called the Dad Test. Stepping up to the plate in week 11: writer, author, blogger, cyclist and father-of-two The Out Of Depth Dad.

The Out Of Depth Dad having fun with his son
Q1. Have you ever messed up a nappy change?
“It’s not possible to be a father and not mess up a nappy change at some point. I’ve regularly done the half asleep change where you realise the nappy is on backwards. I’ve also had a few messy experiences, one notable occasion ended up with poo up the wall. I still have flashbacks.”
Dadliness rating: 1

via The Dad Test ft. The Out Of Depth Dad — Father-Hood.co.uk

Great to be featured in Father-Hood.co.uk’s #TheDadTest this week.

Why not have a read?

OUTOFDEPTHDADHEADER

 

Nobody mentions the ‘Poo Face’…

If you were so inclined, you could spend the entire 9 months between conception and birth reading book after book, each of which ‘guarantees’ to give you the authoritative and complete lowdown on the whole baby ‘experience’.

They are, I am sure, a positive thing – I’m not a fan of these manuals myself, but that’s just personal preference; I think there’s a point where preparation can teeter into obsession. That said, there’s a topic that none of these baby books devotes so much as a word to:

THE ‘POO FACE’

We all have a ‘Poo Face’.

Sorry, but it’s true; it’s the face we pull when we poo.

The thing is, before we become parents, most of us never see a ‘Poo Face’ in our day to to day lives.

Why?

In our society defecation is a solitary activity, so we don’t get to see others pulling their poo faces, and since we don’t, generally, poo in front of a mirror (if you do, you’re a bit weird) we don’t get to see our own either!

Essentially, we’re not familiar with ‘Poo Faces’ at all.

Where am I going with this?

Simply that parents are prepared for all aspects of life with their little one when it arrives, except for how to react to the ‘Poo Face’.

You’ll be eating dinner, with your extended family, making quiet conversation and agreeing that the baby does indeed look a lot like Great Uncle Arnold when suddenly, in your midst, you’ve got a gurning ‘Poo Face’ that would make Les Dawson proud.

Gurning 2

What do you do?

What is the etiquette around the ‘Poo Face’?

Do you ignore it and carry on chatting?

Do you draw attention to it and turn the tide of conversation towards the uniformity of your child’s bowel movements?

Or do you laugh at it?

I must admit I fall into the latter category

I just can’t believe that our society, so heavy in its emphasis upon the hard work parents must endure, doesn’t say to prospective mums and dads:

“It’s all bloody hard work, but don’t worry you’ve still got the ‘Poo Faces’ to look forward to. They’re like a mini oasis of comedy dropping into the drudgery of parenting each and every day.”

OK, so some will say I’m puerile.

Perhaps I am. I do enjoy watching YouTube clips of people falling over – I’m not proud.

But I’m also proud of the laughter generated by the ‘Poo Faces’ I’ve experienced since becoming a dad!

It just surprises me that I’m the only one!

The Out Of Depth Dad

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5 Things I Learned When Baby #2 Arrived

It’s a funny thing: LIFE. Don’t you think?

We only really get any clue of what’s actually happening around us much later – with the benefit of time and distance.

This is certainly true when it comes to parenting.

Now that I’m a dad of two, my perspective is COMPLETELY different to when I was at the coalface of childcare for an ‘only child’.

Here’s 5 Things I Learned When Baby #2 Arrived:

You can ALWAYS be busier

Back in the heady days of having one child to look after, I thought I was constantly busy. Actually that’s an underestimation: I thought I was as busy as it is possible to be.

You know those anti-bacterial sprays that say they kill 99.99% of germs (and they leave off the final .01% just in case there are nasties out there that haven’t been discovered yet, that they’re not killing – but it’s not really likely)?

Well, with our first kid, I thought I was THAT busy: 99.99%

Silly me.

I have now discovered that I was wrong.

Yes, I was pretty up against it – as we know, looking after one tot is no walk in the park (except when it is a walk in the park, and that’s no guarantee of having a good time) – but adding another child to the equation opens up a whole new world of pain.

These days I feel like I’m a robot in one of those bad 80’s TV series. Stay with me. My controls have stuck in fast forward and I’m operating in a hilarious manner at high speed. In a moment or two my head will explode and someone will quip about me being a ‘Hot Head’ or something equally droll.

Essentially, I’ve learned that there are no limits when it comes to children, there will only be more and MORE things to do… more and more reasons to be busy. It’s all about reconciling yourself to this and hoping that when your head does eventually explode, and it will, someone is around to put you back together again.

Tiredness has no limits

As with being busy, there will always room for you to be even more tired than you are now. Since becoming a parent, I’ve come to the conclusion that tiredness has a taste – somewhere between Dandelion & Burdock and liver. It lingers unpleasantly on the palate as you continue with your activities in a muted way, fantasizing about the next time you get to lie down.

I know this is obvious, but sometimes the really obvious things don’t mean much to you until they’re pointed out. With one child you just get them off to sleep and then you can relax (or more likely try and do all the jobs you’ve not managed to do in their waking hours). With two children you have to get both of them to sleep before any respite (or ironing) is possible. There are days when getting my baby daughter to nap, without her being woken by my boisterous almost 3 year old feels a total impossibility – like playing 3D Chess… underwater… blindfolded.

As such, the little nooks and crannies of time that you put aside to recuperate when you’re supervising one child disappear when the second arrives. I said in the past that I looked like an extra from ‘The Walking Dead’. These days I look like an extra from that show, who’s been victim of an overly enthusiastic makeup artist and the producers have had to intervene and tell them to tone down the gore as it’s all getting too much…

Children bring amnesia

I genuinely can’t remember what I planned to write here…

Deja vu is everywhere

When it comes to the second kid, you are constantly dogged with a feeling of deja vu. From exploding nappies to the lingering smell of milky vomit, it’s impossible to shake the feeling that you’ve done all this before and can’t quite remember why you agreed to do it again.

Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t swap our new little one for the world.

It’s just, combined with the tiredness, you can often find yourself a bit confused – it’s like that feeling when you get halfway through an episode of your current box-set obsession to discover you’ve seen this one before.

It’s like that, but all the time.

If I have a skill, it’s nappy changing

I am the KING of the nappy changers.

Yes, that’s right. I used to be quite good at changing nappies. It’s all in the wrist, you see.

The advent of a second recipient of Pampers/Huggies/etc. has taken my nappy changing game up to another level. Olympic standard at least!

If, in my dotage, I ever find myself in nappies again, I’ll be able to apply them to myself with all the skill of a past master!

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So there you have it. How people cope with 3 or more kids is TOTALLY beyond me!

Chris

The Out Of Depth Dad

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The Scotsman: MAMIL Feature…

Here’s a piece I wrote for The Scotsman, about MAMIL culture and ‘The Modern MAMIL: How to look pro’ my book with Spencer Wilson.

Have a read.

It’s that time again.
Up and down the country you’ll hear the shrieks as men (old enough to know better) hop around bathrooms trying to staunch the flow of blood after doing their legs a major mischief while trying to shave them smooth. Soon, once 1,000 tiny cuts dry, the same men are dousing themselves in talc and holding their breath as they squeeze into the Lycra outfits that make their professional cycling heroes look like supermen (sadly the effect on most amateurs can hardly be described as ‘super’). Next they’re out on the streets tentatively riding bikes that cost roughly the same amount as a starter home.
Who are these fellas? They’re MAMILs (Middle Aged Men in Lycra) and this is their time.
Welcome to the age of the MAMIL.

Chris McGuire: The Scotsman

MAMIL Scotsman

For the full piece click here.

If you’d like to find out more about my writing, why not check out my site: chrismcguirewriter.wordpress.com

Thanks all.

The Out Of Depth Dad

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