Oh look, the obligatory Man Asleep With Baby shot…
As places that are conducive to weeping go, a doctor’s office is probably up there, and yet somehow it had taken me almost 40 years to get round to it. Now I’ve done it twice in the space of a few weeks. The first time was when we had a family day out to the local nurse so that she could stick needles into my son’s legs to inject some kind of pre-emptive antidote to the plague. The needle went in and a look of shock on his face gave rise to perplexed and profound sadness and I was still at the stage where if he started crying my primal inner man was instinctively obligated to join in. The nurse smiled meekly as me, my wife, and my son all wept in her office because she’d hurt him.
The second time was about a week ago, very shortly after we found out that our perfect little angel wasn’t entirely perfect after all – he’s got tongue-tie. A nice doctor was showing me on my hand how hard I should massage the underside of his tongue following the minor-operation to snip the little cord in his mouth. My job – or, more likely, my wife’s job (because I’d be at work, not because I’m big on sexism… although I am) – would be to disrupt the healing process to ensure that it didn’t grow back incorrectly. She pressed her finger deep into the area I traditionally reserve for hits of snuff, and even without an open wound to aim for, it bloody hurt. I looked on trying to be tough, but I knew immediately that I couldn’t do it, neither of us could. Other parents with this problem were stronger than us, more able to see the bigger picture, but I knew that we’d rather endure a lifetime of our boy spitting haphazardly on S-words to four weeks of inflicting quickly-forgotten mouth torture. My wife was already crying at the prospect, so it seemed appropriate for me to join in.
Anyway, I’m a huge daddy-bore now (can you tell?), I’ve been one for about three months. So if you’d indulge me here are a few more valuable lessons I’ve taken from the front lines of very middle class parenthood…
I’m doing everything I swore I wouldn’t do, you just can’t fight it – I shouldn’t be doing a blog about parenthood, no one should ever be doing a blog about parenthood. It’s like doing your own Travel Blog – aka, look where I went on holiday. Or your own Food Blog – aka, look what I had for dinner. A Parent Blog – aka, look what happened after two people had unprotected sex for the gazillionth time in history. No one needs to read another one of these things, no one needs to have their Instagram or Facebook feeds littered with cute photos of some guy’s baby. I KNOW ALL OF THIS. But you just can’t fight it. If you claim to write for a living, it’s like being left in a room with a massive cake and a big spoon.
Having a baby doesn’t make you more attractive to women, it just effectively removes your penis meaning they can trust you – ever since that episode of Friends where Joey borrows a baby and gets lost in a world of pussy, men have inaccurately read the kindness of women towards their children as an open invitation to a hypothetical fuck marathon. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Very basic science will tell you that being a man with a baby lets the women of the world know two things: 1. That you are most likely in a very serious relationship. And 2. That you definitely won’t try to have sex with them, because you have a baby with you (even the very worst men in the world tend to draw the line there). That said, a couple of girls have asked me how old he is. Is that code for something?
Formula is wicked – I know it’s contentious to talk about the way you feed your baby – the point is raised and you can feel buttocks clenching, backs straightening and lips pursing, some guy squeezes a testicle through his pocket to distract himself from the awkwardness. To some people Breast is Best, to others Formula is a godsend which delivers them from the eternal hell of angry swollen nipples and broken spirits. Well NEWSFLASH guys, we do BOTH! He spends half of the day seeing what’s on offer in his mother’s boobs, then the rest of the day pouring back formula like it’s the last days of Rome. I’m not saying that the two things are linked, but since we introduced formula to his diet he just seems less tiny and less miserable. Sorry, I meant THEY ARE LINKED, the two things are linked.*
*As an aside, Josh wonders if the saying “getting on my tits” derives from the horrors of breastfeeding **
** he then writes stage directions about himself in the third person
I will never watch a whole film again – thus far, I’ve made it through the first 23 minutes of Mr Holland’s Opus, about 90 seconds of Superbad, I glanced at Aliens, I put The Lost Boys in the DVD player then never had time to press play. I’m beginning to think that my child hates Hollywood. He’s so anti-establishment.
You can’t trust your own judgment, but you probably should. I think – we decided early on not to read any baby books, not because we’ve got anything against books, but because it’s time consuming and I’m convinced that there’s a wormhole in there that would find us constantly ordering ambulances for no reason. Hence I can’t speak with any certainty that we’re doing any of this right, sometimes when people ask me how he’s been sleeping, I say REALLY WELL and then have visions of him screaming in his cot while we snore in the bed a few feet away. All I know is that he sometimes wakes up laughing. That’s a good sign, right?