Dear Father Hood: how was your Monday morning?
Good day to everyone, and thank you for asking about a morning that in my view perfectly explains how your life changes when you have kids. What I mean by this is…My wife and I were woken at 5.20am by a crying child. At this point we faced a big decision. Did one of us face the music and get up, or did we attempt to gain 45-60 extra minutes of sleep by either taking the baby into our bed or attempting to rock him back to sleep?
Initially, we chose the get him into our bed option. It didn’t work. To be honest, it hardly ever works. But for some reason it always seems worth a go, probably because it means you don’t have to spend any more time staggering about on your feet than is strictly necessary. Also, it’s just possible that your partner will break first (read: get bored of being kicked and scratched before you do) and thus have to go down and do breakfast.
This morning, I snapped almost immediately. Not because I had a sudden desire to have cereal thrown at me, but because I had a hunch that if I put him on my shoulder for a few minutes he might go back to sleep. And do you know what? I was right. After around 20 minutes of rocking and back tapping he returned to Snoozeville and I got to go back to sleep for another 35 (yes, thirty-five) minutes.
The cries began again just after 6.30am, at which point the key question was: has he pooped? This isn’t our usual early mornings with kids chat, but over the weekend the bubster has developed a slight stomach bug that’s making his bowel movements more frequent and about 16 times smellier than usual. To quote The Unmumsy Mum, “#blessed”.
Pleasingly, he had not done his business, so it was time for breakfast. Normally, my son has one-and-a-half Weetabix and some raspberries, but this morning the rasps were replaced with a banana in a bid to, how shall I put this? Oh I know, constipate him. It didn’t work. Roughly four spoons and three distraction devices in, his face reddened, his brow furrowed, his eyes looked a bit sad and… if you’re a parent, you’ll know the rest. We headed back upstairs to change his nappy and clothing (he had a leak).
He absolutely loved this. And that’s what you call sarcasm. As usual, he screamed and flapped his way through this process, stopping only briefly to play with his penis and testicles. Men, huh.
Out, out, out
Change complete, we returned to the kitchen, where I managed to get 90% of the way through his Weetabix and banana combo before giving in to his incessant demand and lifting him “out, out, out, out, out, out” of his high chair. Once on the floor, he immediately and rather obviously wanted to be picked “up, up, up, up, up”.
In terms of our relationship, this made me feel good. In terms of getting the two yoghurts he’s supposed to eat down his throat, this made me feel uneasy. Would he stay still in my arms for long enough to compliantly chow down a couple of Petit Filous? Of course he would. Again, this is what you call sarcasm. The moment he glimpsed the calcium packed fruity treat, he bucked like a bronco, stuck his hand in my face and cried “nooooooo”. Fine, son. Let’s do things your way.
Which means I put him down in amongst his toys and then spent the next 10-15 minutes looking for split seconds where I could shove the foodstuff in his mouth. This isn’t a competitive sport, but given the fact it mixes elements of parkour, Pilates, gymnastics and the board game Twister it possibly should be. This morning’s match saw the runner (aka my son) use a variety of tricks including scrambling along the sofa, lying face down on the ground and driving his toy car into the chaser’s head, legs and sternum. And the chaser (me) achieve the world class score of 12/14 – that’s 12 spoons out of 14 in the mouth and fully ingested. The other two, if you care, were splattered over my son’s cheeks and nose (and subsequently the sofa).
Job done, it was now 7.50am (yes, just 7.50am), which meant it was shower time. Bubby loves showers. That’s not sarcasm, but there is a but. He loves showers, but he does not love a) baby shampoo/shower gel, b) keeping the water in the confines of the shower, c) getting told off for spraying the water outside of the confines of the shower, d) getting out of the shower. So how did it go? Well, if I am honest, this morning’s battle was fairly timid, with only two half-hearted anti-shampoo screams and a brief bout of foot stamping.
Next, we had to get him dressed, while simultaneously packing his nursery bag. It was at this point we spotted Cuddles. Cuddles is the nursery’s teddy bear. He was presented to them by a former pupil, and, in a bid to share the love around, is given to a different family each weekend. Said family then has to take pictures of the bear and use them to illustrate a written report of Cuddles’ weekend. Pleasingly, we’d managed to take three shots of our son semi-close to the bear (he seems to hate it and kept throwing it away). Less pleasingly, we hadn’t written up the report.
Weekend with Cuddles
Thus I was dispatched to my laptop to write an extremely quick review of our weekend. Mission complete, I printed it off, stuck it in the special ‘Adventures of Cuddles’ book, grabbed bubby’s lunch and then headed for the front door where my wife was strapping an agitated young man into his pram. His mood quickly improved when we got outside, but predictably descended again when we approached the nursery’s front door.
He’s been going there five months and loves it, but still insists on bursting into tears every time we drop him off. Emotional gauntlet run, there was just time to say goodbye to my wife before rushing to get the train to work. I made it with two minutes to spare, sat down and relaxed. Not really. I did make the train, but I didn’t get a seat. Instead, I leaned on the luggage rack, closed my eyes and transported myself to an alternative universe where I’d done my teeth and hair, trimmed my beard, found some unstained clothes to wear and slept in until 8am. I call it the Land Before Kids and if I concentrate hard enough I can just about remember it.