The swimming lesson

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Today I took CPP for a swimming lesson for the first time.  And by ‘swimming’, I mean ‘sort of floating’.

My five meals per day + snacks regime over the last few months means I am more than beach body ready (think some of the sperm whales that have washed up on the beach in Norfolk recently) so I wasn’t at all self conscious about inevitably being the only dad at the lesson. Making small talk is difficult at the best of times. Doing so whilst both parties are in swimwear can increase that awkwardness level by anything up to about 15%. Luckily everyone there was concentrating mainly on not letting their baby sink rather than eyeing me up.

Needing eye correction, I opted for spectacles judging that goggles in the baby pool might look a bit odd – not quite as odd as a the full snorkel but still odd.

The lesson itself was a smorgasbord of playful songs including the Hokey Cokey (which I hated as a child), the Wheels on the Bus (which I hated as a child) and the Grand Old Duke of York (about which I was ambivalent) as well as some general splishing and splashing.  CPP stubbornly kept the fingers of one hand in his mouth for the whole lesson whilst occasionally failing to bat a plastic duck with the other.

Bobbing around as he did more or less emotionlessly I figure he probably would have been just as happy in a bucket.  But, if by getting him in the pool this early, he can grow to like swimming it has to be a good thing.  Hopefully he’ll be able to get a few years’ enjoyment out of it until being put off it in his teens when we force him into the water fully clothed to retrieve a brick.

My last observation – babies have special swimming nappies which are absorbent on the inside but waterproof on the outside.  What an age we live in.

Daytime TV review #1: Homes Under the Hammer

 

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Dion Dublin earlier in his career

 

We can only speculate at the events that led to Dion Dublin (613 senior appearances, 183 goals) becoming the host of daytime TV’s Homes Under the Hammer but the decision was definitely the right one.

For those unfamiliar with Homes Under the Hammer, it offers a gritty, warts-and-all portrayal of the high stakes world of buying a house and then carrying out some minor rennovations to it.

Due to budget restrictions, the BBC shows fourteen episodes of Homes Under the Hammer every weekday meaning that if you’ve ever bought a property via an auction, the chances are you’ve been featured on the show. This prodigious output has meant the presenting team has had to be increased by 50% and there is no reason why that 50% shouldn’t have been Dion Dublin.

There are two things everyone knows about Dion Dublin 1) almost uniquely he played top flight football as both a striker and a centre half, and 2) he’s got the longest cock in football. A third quality that he’s apparently been hiding under a bushell all these years is his ability to walk round houses pointing out where modernisation might be required.

“Here are the stairs leading up to the bedrooms which are on the small side” says Dion Dublin and he’s right; they are up there and they are on the small side.

The dynamic of the presenting team has been altered somewhat since the addition of Dublin. Although long standing presenter Lucy Alexander still manages to look interested as she trudges round a bungalow in Silverdale, co-presenter Martin Roberts looks thoroughly pissed off with the whole arrangement; probably because he’s no longer the biggest prick on the show.

 

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Martin Roberts: Massive tool

 

The show follows members of the public as they buy a property at an auction, describe what they’re hoping to do to it and then do it.

“Why have you bought this shed at an auction”

“I’m planning to make it into a slightly nicer shed”

“How?”

“Paint.”

Voiceover:  “Changes of this kind are unlikely to require planning permission but check with your local council.”

A show which, like the properties it features, is almost without redeeming features – 5 stars

Week 1: Achievement on top of achievement

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CPP in the hat that makes him look like a Greek Orthodox bishop. Graze in the background – scene of inaugral dad bag utilisation.

Well we made it.  Week one of my parental adventure has gone by successfully.  VERY SUCCESSFULLY.  Although Captain Poo Pants (CPP) has spent the entire week sucking on his fingers, there has also been time for me to apply some of my expert parenting techniques.  I haven’t yet found time to teach him chess or a musical instrument but he has been successful in mashing some banana into his trousers so that’s good. Here are the week’s highlights;

Get Ups

At around 3 o clock on Monday morning, I was sat at the end of CPP’s cot thinking that the SAS should start recruiting new parents.  We can cope with the sleep deprivation, we’ve got excellent upper body strength due to all the baby rocking and we are utterly unfazed by someone screaming at us two inches from our face.  If only I was able to descend a rope from a helicopter whilst firing very accurately at the enemy, I’d basically be the perfect recruit.

Left to my own devices, I would replicate the sleep pattern of a brown bear; eat twice my body weight for dinner and then sleep for 3 months.  Transitioning to the sleep pattern of a teething baby therefore has been the most difficult thing this week.  After three bad nights, uncovering CPP’s hands so that he could access his fingers during the night has meant he has slept around one million times better.

 

Adulation

To be honest, I had assumed that all I would have to do is step outside the front door and receive the adulation of the world simply for the achievement of being a dad looking after their child (I was thinking spontaneous applause, ticker tape etc).  In fact no one’s really that bothered and that’s the way it should be.  Looking after your child is just something you ought to do.  I think we should make it easier for dads to take more of the load but actually we shouldn’t get a medal for doing something that women have been doing for tens of thousands of years.  I exchanged a knowing nod with a couple of other blokes doing the same and a few words with a woman in a mobility scooter about the difficult terrain on Tonbridge High Street.  Other than that, no one has batted an eye lid.

Poo

The dad bag received its initiation on Saturday lunchtime.  Graze in Tonbridge has excellent changing facilities accessible to dads.  Unfortunately this means that loads of other people with kids go in there which is annoying.  I thought CPP might have given me an easy one to break me in but actually it was like an industrial accident in a shit factory.

Food

Feeding the little mite was the thing I was most worried about.  He’s become so used to ordering take out from Boobs R Us that I wondered how he would cope without round the clock access.  Previously, every one of his interactions with the cup has involved him screaming at it, me pouring some milk into his mouth and him allowing the milk to dribble out of his mouth down his shirt.  As it happened, as soon as mom was out of the house, he realised that he didn’t really have much option and was happy enough to drink from a cup rendering all of our careful habit forming cup training completely wasted.

He is also more than happy eating solid foods and is trying foods that I genuinely didn’t try until I was in my 20s (so basically all fruit and veg).

Daytime TV

No matter how good the night’s sleep, early morning get ups are the norm now although CPP is happy to go back to sleep again around an hour after ‘getting up’.  With nap times on top of this, it means I have imbibed quite a lot of daytime TV and what a packet of bollocks it really is.  Other than Dion Dublin’s performances on Homes Under the Hammer (“these are the stairs which lead up to the bedrooms”), it is slim pickings.  I’ll be starting a daytime TV review series later this week so stay tuned for that one.

I have the chess set ready for week 2.

6 Techniques to sooth your baby back to sleep

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Pick up, put down method
When your baby wakes crying at night, pick them up whilst you imagine experts putting down your parenting techniques.

The self sooth method
Simply allow your baby to bat itself in the face and have a look round for a couple of hours in the middle of the night. Can be used in conjunction with the shhhhhing method.

The no-tears method
That’s a doll. Your baby is the one over there. OVER THERE.

The shhhhhhhh technique
WAAAAAAAAA
Shhhhhh
WAAAAAAAAAAAAA
Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

If you don’t stop crying, HOW WILL YOU HEAR THAT I’M SHHHHHHING YOU??

Controlled crying
Just bury your face in the pillow and howl away so as not to wake your partner.

Retreat method
4.45am is a pretty reasonable time to start the day. Retreat to the sofa with your baby and see what’s on ITV2.

Things dads don’t know about birth until it’s too late (part 1)

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Calming art in Lewisham Hospital (may be fire damaged).

  1. Giving birth hurts more, a lot more, than getting kicked in the nuts.  There, I said it.  On behalf of men everywhere, I withdraw this comparison.  A more adequate parallel would be having your goolies tied to the back of a Vauxhall Nova whilst an inner city youth does U-turns round a car park every ten minutes until they drop off.
  2. Nature performs a Blake-7 style memory wipe on mums that allows them to forget the worst parts of child birth and this is how it tricks them into wanting another one.  Nature has not so far seen fit to extend this service to dads and as such, every second of that grisly, magical, horrific, magical experience is etched on your subconscious from now until the day you die.
  3. The hospital really would prefer if you weren’t there.  Everything would just run a lot smoother without the inconvenience of patients. Waters have broken and you want to go in?  Unless you can already tell what colour your baby’s eyes are, tough shit – you’re getting sent home.  Come back when you’re baby-width dilated.
  4. The hospital really doesn’t want you, specifically, to be there.  They’re short of beds; the last thing they want is your non-ill body cluttering up the place.  Hey you want to stay the night?  Why don’t you sleep standing up just here next to this cabinet.
  5. Placentas.  What the hell is that all about?  Once the baby’s born, that’s not it!  There’s all this other stuff that still has to come out. Whilst presumably important in some way, it is certainly treated with less care and attention,  This I discovered bending down to retrieve my shoes after the birth finding a placenta (presumably ours) just gently airing in a bowl next to some plastic flowers two inches from my nose.  Hopefully someone moved it before the next people went in.

Packing the dad bag

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The dad bag is packed. It’s specially designed for dads (i.e. it has a compartment for my pipe and screwdriver) so I’ll be looking quite the man about town very soon.

Here are the essentials.

1. Muslin cloths
Check carefully that you have got the spelling right before ordering online else the only thing you’ll be prepared for is manufacturing a salwar kameez. Muslin cloths are only useful for 2 things;  cheese making and rubbing infant sick into fabrics.

2. Wet wipes
Symptomatic of our throw away society. Wet wipes are for people too lazy to moisturise their own tissues. Buy them in bulk and they can replace a range of household items; out with the duster, the J-cloth, the flannel, the post-it notes. Buy shares now.

3. Spare clothes
One of the first things they teach you at finishing school is that it is not polite behaviour to soil yourself in public to such an extent that your whole outfit needs to be changed. This memo hasn’t reached babies yet and as such a poo-splosion can realistically be expected at any time.

4. Changing mat x 2
Have you seen the changing tables in pub and restaurant toilets? If you’re a man the answer is almost certainly no because there aren’t any. You’re doing it on the floor buddy. On the floor of a public toilet. That’s why it’s important to have two changing mats – one to do the changing  on and the other to protect the better changing mat from abominations lurking on the floor.

5. Alcohol hand gel
Buy shares in alcohol hand gel. Goes well with tonic and a slice of lime if you’re in a bind.

6. Nappy sacks
Er, so you don’t have to carry shitty nappies round in your pockets.

The man bag has a special pocket for ‘my’ things but given that all of the other items in the bag are designed to clean up sick or poo, I don’t think I’ll be keeping my sandwich in there any time soon.

Now all that remains is to go outside.