When the Sh*t hits the pram!

“I’ll get a stick!” I announced, to Sam.

But from where?

There’s never a stick around when you need one. I scanned the tarmac, discovering a used KFC box, an abandoned arm (from what looked like a Power Ranger) and assorted leaves at various stages of decomposition. There were no sticks, I was stuck with poo on the wheel of the pram.

Not for the first time.

I’ve discovered that dog poo is my absolute nemesis. Every move I make, every step I take, I’ll be treading in it (or rolling a pram wheel through it).

Don’t get me wrong, I love dogs. I’m very much a ‘dog person’. If I ever get reincarnated I’ll happily come back as a hound of some variety. Their ‘doings’, on the other hand, are as repulsive as it’s possible to be. Most of us share this opinion – don’t we? The only thing I find more repulsive than dogs’ mess are the people who don’t clean up after their pets. I just can’t understand how this happens. How does someone walk away from dog mess and think that’s OK?

It’s getting worse. Every day I take Sam on (at least) 3 long pram-based walks, in an effort to get him to sleep or give his mum time to snooze. I know this is nothing unusual, thousands of fathers up and down the country are doing the same thing, so I’m not looking for a medal. My frustration is these trips have become mini-assault courses through which I must weave, dodge and leap my way in order to avoid the little ‘gifts’ left by previous passers-by of the canine persuasion. It’s exhausting and I’m exhausted to start with. Lapses of concentration inevitably occur and I find myself with an unwanted fragrant passenger on the pram.

“Does the baby need changing?” my other half will ask, sniffing the air on my return.

“P.P.I.!” I’ll reply.

For the uninitiated, I’m talking about a ‘Poo. Pram. Interaction.’ This is usually followed by boiling the kettle, for hot water to wash the wheels – not my favourite activity.

I’d like to say that I do this in good grace, but I don’t. I stand in the front yard moaning to anyone who’ll listen to my predicament. I wonder aloud how hard it would be to collect the mess in a bag and put it in a bin. ‘Not very’ is the inevitable answer. Although bags aren’t completely the answer. There’s a new breed of dog walkers who collect the detritus in a bag, then leave the bag on the pavement. Either way, it’s someone else’s problem.

My plan would be to introduce spot fines. Dog walkers would be stopped on searched and those not carrying bags for their pet’s doings would be fined.

Too harsh?

Perhaps. I do have another solution, anyone not picking up after their animal would be made to stand in the town square. Don’t worry, I’m not thinking of bringing back the stocks. My thought is they would have buckets of hot, soapy water and be available to scrub my pram wheels. Sounds fair to me.

I’m sure this has ruffled some feathers. To those of you I’ve annoyed, don’t worry I don’t have any power to enforce my anti-poo ideas.

Yet.

In the meantime if you see a bearded man, with a pram, looking for a stick. It’ll be me, refusing to find poetry in motions.

Still Sinking…

The Out of Depth Dad. 

@Outofdepth_dad

 

 

 

 

 

Sleeping? Beauty!

The 2 most beautiful words in the English language:

“He’s asleep.”

Let me say it again: “He’s asleep.”

(For the record, the next most beautiful words are: “Don’t worry, I’ll change the nappy”.)

Nothing I have ever done in a professional capacity has filled me with so much satisfaction as successfully getting Sam off to sleep. Nothing has even come close. This is coming from a man who once spent a morning ice skating with The Cheeky Girls.

Don’t ask.

I was so naïve.

I mean SO naïve, before Sam arrived. I genuinely thought that, every now and then, he would wake up in the night, when he was upset, bless him, which would mean I’d need to get up and pat his head and sleep would resume once more.

So naïve.

They don’t tell you the truth.

The real truth.

The truth is now, almost 8 months in, sleep is Holy Grail, the oasis just over the horizon – never getting any closer. There is only one person in our household getting enough sleep, Sam himself.

Right now, I would genuinely, without hesitation, give large (and I do mean LARGE) amounts of money for some sleep. I think of it in the same way normal, sane, people fantasize about winning the lottery.

Everything in my life is based around sleep at the moment. It’s all about not waking Sam up, trying to get him off to sleep or thinking tantalizingly about the next time I can actually get into bed.

Putting Sam to bed is like dealing with an unexploded bomb. In a past life I used to gallery produce live TV shows. Nothing in a live broadcast comes even close to the tension involved in trying to put Sam to bed – a long process of rocking and shushing, more complex than any Chinese Tea Ceremony, that builds to a make or break climax of placing him horizontally in his cot. In the best-case scenario, you stand up and see to closed eyes. In the worst, there are 2 peepers looking back at you – often laced with tears and the whole sorry routine beings again.

The irony isn’t lost on me, I can think of few scenarios where someone deprived and desperate for something tries to give it to another, who is equally desperate to avoid it. The only person who currently finds my lullabies soporific seems to be me.

It’s not just nighttime when sleeping is an issue. During the day it’s a battle too. Although in the daytime the combatants aren’t Sam and I… Daytime has become a fight between me and the rest of the planet.

Sam will sleep twice during the day. That’s it, no more no less. The thing is if one of these sleeps is 5 minutes long it makes no difference – he’s not going to sleep again. He’s stubborn that way. These 2 pockets of slumber, sacred sleeping moments, are where my partner and I live out our lives. These naps are also the battleground in which I constantly try to stay 5 steps ahead of the loud people that share our space.

Noisy people of the world, you are the human equivalent of tinnitus. I’ve learned to live with you, I know silence is almost as precious a commodity as sleep and one I, frankly, can’t afford. What I don’t understand is why, when you see a dad and his sleeping child, you feel the need to be as loud as humanly possible in their vicinity?

“Is he asleep?” you bellow, thinking that volume is an adequate substitute for personality or wit.

“Not anymore,” I reply, fighting the urge to thump you.

Then another time…

“Arizona, Arizona, come and have a look at the little baby,” you announce, with such gusto the public address system makers of the world find their shares dropping.

Or famously…

“You don’t mind me bringing my (barking) dog over to look at your baby. Do you?”

Yes, that actually happened.The dog’s curiosity was satiated and had 3 hours of tired irritable child.

I know I’m not going to beat the system. I know I’m not going to get much sleep anytime soon. But it does feel good to vocalize my frustration… quietly.

I must go, I can see Sam’s on the verge of waking. Perhaps a bit or rocking can preserve the moment a little longer. Fingers crossed.

Still sinking.

The Out of Depth Dad.

@Outofdepth_dad

 

Rhymes against Humanity

I can’t be the only one, surely?

My brain feels like it’s melting and about drip out of my ear, like some kind of novelty candle.

Why?

Nursery sodding rhymes.

Really! Nursery rhymes!

If I have to ‘row, row, row’ my bloody boat down another stream, I think I’m likely deliberately crash it into the river bank and set the wreck alight!

I just don’t get it.

Why are they all so archaic?

Why are they all so dull?

Perhaps they were designed by a shadowy part of the government as a subtle form of psychologic torture to keep parents brain-dead during the early years? On reflection, this would be overkill – sleep deprivation is fulfilling that function quite nicely.

Don’t get me wrong, they work. I understand that nursery rhymes are like catnip for kids. Sam’s entire demeanour changes when he hears about the aforementioned watercraft and its oar-based method of propulsion. He can be fully on a one-way trip to the Dark side, I mean full Sith, and the mere mention of that boat will bring him back to a smiley state (for which I’m grateful). Yet, the thing is, I hate them! Nursery rhymes are driving me up the wall!

I used to be a thrusting young professional. Actually, I was never a thrusting young professional. To thrust in a professional capacity is a particularly niche occupation, but you get the idea. I used to be a man about town (also lies, I used to sit in pubs reading the paper mentally debating where I’d get a take-away from that evening). Anyway, whatever I was, it was infinitely more exciting than some of the rhymes I’m currently singing on a seemingly endless loop.

There’s ‘Old MacDonald’, who, as the rhyme tells us, is in agriculture. Good for him. Why I’m spending whole chunks of my day listing in inventory of his livestock and the sounds they make is beyond me. Sam seems to enjoy the experience, perhaps he’s pleased that these animals, half of which he’s never seen, are present and in good voice?

Another classic is ‘If you’re happy and you know it. clap your hands!” Sam can’t (currently) clap his hands, it’s a milestone we’re still yet to hit. I’m sure when we get to that particular promised land the song will gain a whole new meaning, but right now it feels like we’re going through the motions somewhat.

I mustn’t leave out ‘The Grand Old Duke of York’, who seems to have some kind of obsessive compulsive desire to walk his men up and down any molehill in sight. I can understand ‘Up’ being useful vocab for a child, as is ‘Down’. But ‘Halfway Up’ is probably going to be little used by any kid who isn’t obsessed with umbrellas.

They’re just so dull. I can’t be the only one feeling this, surely?

I also can’t be the only one who’s ‘adapted’ the lyrics somewhat. Nothing major, but enough to keep me from losing the plot.

Here’s a few examples:

“Old MacDonald had a farm, that supplied his burger business.

 And on that farm he had some cows, ‘cause it’s a cattle farm.

 With a moo, moo here. A moo, moo there.

Here a moo, there a moo.

Everywhere a moo, moo.

Old MacDonald had a farm and an abattoir.”

Another favourite is:

“Row, row, row your boat, over to the villa.

Don’t forget to put the prosecco straight into the chiller!”

A refusal to go to sleep, well past 9pm, after I’d cooked an elaborate meal for my partner’s birthday led to:

“If you’re happy and you know it scream and cry,”

If you’re happy and you know it scream and cry,”

If you’re happy and you know it and you really want ruin a meal that daddy sweated over for hours…*

If you’re happy and you know it scream and cry.”

*Note:

I’m aware this doesn’t ‘scan’ correctly, but I feel that deficiency adds to the poignancy of the piece somewhat.

Perhaps you think badly of me, rewriting these classics. As far as I’m concerned, Sam just likes the sounds of the words I’m saying and doing it keeps my brain (mildly) active. Anything’s better than watching Judge Rinder on a loop surely?

If you have your own unique nursery rhymes, let me know! In the meantime I’ve got to go. I need to tell the tale of Incy Wincy Spider – a lesson in futility if I ever heard one.

Still sinking.

The Out of Depth Dad.

“Turbulence”

It’s time for me to be honest.

I thought I knew exactly what I was going to write in this blog. I really did. I had it all planned out. “What is he going on about?” I hear you cry (I don’t). 

Let me explain.

Today was Sam’s first full day at nursery. It was, not entirely coincidentally, my partner’s first day back at work after her maternity leave. So far, so predictable.

I had a blog planned, on how we were worried about mutual separation anxiety caused by Sam’s stay at the nursery. I was going to say that my partner and I had planned how she would balance her workload – which before Sam’s arrival had been considerable – taking into account the effort and tiredness that goes along with parenting a small child. I’d expected to build all of this up into a pleasingly tense crescendo, until, surprise surprise, it all turned out well in the end.

That’s what I’d planned to write. That’s not what happened.

I woke this morning feeling like I’d gone 12 rounds with Mike Tyson – boxing, not drinking. My head thumped and my throat was sore. “Never mind darling,” said my partner, “you can get a nap after the builders have gone.”

Did I mention we had builders in today too?

What kind of idiot books in builders on an already busy day (see above)? I did. But, to be fair, I didn’t. The building work was supposed to take place last week, but it drifted, as building work has a tendency to do, so that the builders were still with us today. Glorious.

This morning was supposed to be the family version of an exhibition match. A morning where I showed how smoothly it could all run, with me in charge of Sam then dropping him at nursery, while my other half got on with her job (she works from home).

I don’t know if babies have an inbuilt ability to know when important conference calls are happening? Sam was as happy as Larry (whoever he is) until 9 this morning (we decided to start him at the nursery at 10 – easing him in). From 9 onwards, just as his mum began the ‘back to work’ conference call in the next room, he screamed the house down. There was nothing I could do. All the usual appeasing tricks didn’t work. He screamed and screamed, the conference call listened and I became grayer and grayer. I couldn’t take Sam out of the house, because the builders hadn’t arrived (they were predictably late) and my partner was on her besieged conference call and so couldn’t let them in.

I’ve rarely been so frazzled as when I delivered Sam to the nursery. Handing him over I noticed a small – zit like – spot on his hand. I mentioned it to the care assistant, who agreed to keep an eye on it.

Stressed, but relieved Sam was in good hands, I made a mental list of all things I was going to achieve in the next 6 hours. 6 whole, beautiful hours. Time, when you’ve got a little one, is such a luxury. At least, I comforted myself, the worst of the day was over.

I’d just sat down with a coffee, – beginning a piece of writing I’ve put off for far too long – when the phone rang.

It was the nursery.

Sam needed to be collected, in the last half hour spots had broken out all over him. He’d only been a nursery 27 minutes!

I rang the doctors straight away. Had a I done the drinking glass test? I felt sick. It’s amazing how, as a parent, your mind races to the most dramatic conclusions.

Sam’s mum and I raced (literally) to the nursery. I was soaked with sweat when I arrived. True enough, Sam was gathering an impressive collection of red spots. I tried to seem calm as we raced him to the doctors. I couldn’t help but feel guilty about not being more sympathetic during his screaming this morning: clearly he’d been ill and I’d just taken it as grumpiness.

I’ll bring the story to a rapid conclusion. I see no need in drawing it out. It was a viral infection, nothing, thank God, more serious. Nothing, I mean nothing, is more likely to make you feel out of your depth than the prospect of a seriously ill child.

So now, as I type, I’m sitting with a spotty, but sleeping child. Nursery for Sam is out of bounds for the next week so I’m on permanent daddy duty (rather than my usual 3 days). As for my partner’s stress-free transition back to work. Well, that may have been too much to hope for.

I wonder if Sam has hit some kind of record – being removed from nursery on his first day after only 27 minutes?

Maybe not.

Either way, it’s not been a day I’ll forget in a hurry.

Must get back to the spotty boy.

Still sinking…

The Out of Depth Dad.

Freefall 2: “Unwanted Advice”

“Where’s his mum then?”

I must admit I was startled by the voice, seemingly from nowhere. It’s one of the (many) problems of being my height (I’m 6 foot 5), very small people don’t feature on my peripheral vision. For a moment, I thought I was hearing voices. They say that happens, don’t they – overtired people have hallucinations? They’ve always sounded like fun to me, in the abstract at least. I quite fancy spending an afternoon talking to Shergar or being one of those daring men on a flying trapeze.

But I digress.

I wasn’t hearing things, I was hearing someone – a middle aged lady to be exact, keen to interact with me and Sam my son. She was tiny, almost professionally so – hence my confusion.

“Sorry?” I replied, woken from my day dream of flying through the air in a Big Top.

“His mum?” the lady looked around expectantly. “Where is she?”

“She’s at home, working.”

She gave me a look of “Oh you poor dear” and then stuck a grubby finger in Sam’s unsuspecting mouth.

“Please don’t do that,” I said, trying to control my temper.

“He’s fine,” she said, dismissively.

Whether Sam was fine, or not, was hardly the point – although I was simultaneously trying to remember if there was a way of disinfecting a baby’s mouth.

“See… he likes it.”

Sam also likes to throw all of his weight in the opposite direction when he’s being carried, meaning you have to lunge to ensure he doesn’t fall. My point is, just because Sam likes something doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for him. In fact, as a 7 month old baby, the idea of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are not concepts he’s familiar with.

As politely as I could, I disengaged her finger from Sam’s mouth and attempted to carry on with the shopping. She didn’t take the hint.

“That face, he’s pulling right now, that means he’s tired.”

That made 2 of us.

“I know.”

She made a little clucking sound and shook her head.

“I mean what you’re doing taking him out when he’s tired is beyond me. Men…”

Here is the crux of the matter. For some reason, that I am yet to figure out, some people think it’s perfectly acceptable to come over and interfere when a dad is out with their baby. It drives me mad. It really does.

“Got to go.”

“What are you feeding him on?” she continued.

“Bye.”

Before I’d removed myself she’d grabbed a can of baby food from my basket.

“He won’t like this,” she said, eyeing up the Chicken noodle mush.

Sam does like it. He eats it like it’s going out of fashion. I took another jar from the shelf and walked away.

“Some people are just rude,” she said, as I left.

I couldn’t agree more.

Unsolicited advice, has it ever been well received? I mean, ever? Why, as a father, am I destined to be the recipient of it, by the bucket-load? Perhaps it’s a generational thing?We really need to get over the idea that a dad, on his own with his child, is providing inferior care – so poor indeed that a complete stranger, who happens to be in the possession of a second ‘X’ chromosome, could do a better job.

I’m aware that I may sound like I’m ranting. Mainly because I am. But really, when you’re tired, it’s the last thing you want. I fumed about it for hours, while Sam on the other hand, was happily napping in minutes. The lady was right, he was tired and today so am I.

Back to Shergar and the trapeze.

Still sinking…

The Out of Depth Dad