Yesterday evening as my partner Becky and I were returning from a barbecue at a friend’s house I removed my sunglasses, placed them on my son and said, “Look Babe, it’s Bono!” Now, if I am being honest my three month old son only had a passing resemblance at best to the lead singer of U2, but that’s not the point.

The point is, it was then that I realised that all around the planet there is a tacit, unwritten law that all new parents, at one point or another, have to put ridiculous looking sunglasses on their children and subsequently photograph them. It’s mandatory – simple as that.

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I have just returned from my first holiday with my son and realise more acutely than ever that having a child forces you to live in the present. No more wistful what ifs and certainly no time to worry about what may happen any further in the future than about ten minutes from the time you are in now.

In the past holidays for me have been quite introspective times. A time to read, a time to consider my lot in life, a time to think and to then make a list of all the ways I was going to change my life the moment I got back from holiday.

I would then take this list, put it on my fridge door and ignore it completely, only occasionally catching sight of it and feeling slightly shit that the only thing I have managed to do on a list of 20 ‘life changing’ things is to eat less cheese.

Whether you are sitting by a pool, deep in the countryside or half way up a mountain the demands of your baby are exactly the same as they are back home and, as I somewhat naively found out, these still dictate your day.

When you holiday with a three month old child you are not afforded the luxury of self indulgence. In fact, holidaying is not so much about total relaxation as just being in a different place with the same child!

My son had no relaxation issues on holiday...

My son had no relaxation issues on holiday...


My milkman comes at around twenty minutes to four in the morning and I cannot decide if hearing him arrive and deliver the pint of milk on to my doorstep is reassuring or depressing.

In one way it makes me a little fed up to still be awake, invariably feeding my son as I hear the electric whir of his milk float rattling along my road at the crack of dawn – or technically before the crack of dawn most days.

In another way it makes me feel less alone, knowing that Bill is out there, working away already when most normal folks are still fast asleep. He whistles his way up my driveway delivering my small bottle shaped beacon of hope in a sleep deprived world.

This single pint of light says it’s going to be okay, for no matter how tired you are now in just a few hours you can wander downstairs and have a nice bowl of crunchy nut cornflakes.

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Notes From An Idiot!

June 7, 2009

I thought that when you had a child the doctors and nurses basically wiped the baby clean, waited thirty minutes for the mother to feel a bit better then kicked you out into the big bad world to fend for yourself. Now, while its not totally disimilar to this, you are provided with some sort of safety net of after care in the form of a midwife or a health visitor who will come to your house to make sure everything is proceeding along ok.

The problem with these visiting midwives is two fold. Firstly, they never tell you when they are going to turn up and this is massively inconvenient. At least when you buy a new fridge freezer you vaguely know when it’s going to arrive! (I’m normally given the delivery slot between 9am and 5pm – a perfectly convenient eight hour window. I obviously have nothing better to do with my time than spend a whole day waiting!)

The second problem with these people is that they are probably the most patronising bunch of twits I have ever come across in my whole life. They talked to me with such certaintly that I was a compete moron that even I began to doubt myself.

“I am worried that my son is not putting on weight,” I asked the first visiting twit.

“Are you feeding him?” She replied. ‘No,’ I felt like saying. ‘I was hoping he would grow large and healthy just on London air! Of course I’m bloody feeding him.’

“Are you changing his nappy,” one asked with a beady eyed look. ‘Yes, on a weekly basis. I feel that’s the environmentally friendly way to do it. One nappy a week! He does get quite heavy with poo towards the end of the week but that’s the sacrifice we make to save the planet!’

“Are you making sure the nipple of the bottle goes in his mouth?” A rather large one asked.‘That’s where I was going wrong. I have been shoving it up his nose!’

After the first two visits my partner Becky banned me from speaking while they were in the house for fear these old goats would take umbrage and never allow us to look after our son on our own. Eventually though, we were ‘signed off’ or whatever it is called and deemed fit to look after a small child on our own.

Now, where did I put my pressure hose? The boy needs his bottom cleaned…

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Next week I am going on holiday. Two weeks of sanity in a world gone mad. However, what will be different about this holiday is that for the very first time in my holidaying life I will be accompanied by an 11 week old child.

My holiday time is a sanctuary, a retreat from fellow man and their mobile phones, blackberrys, internet cafes and constant communication. These days, even when on holiday, people sit around the pool and constantly text their friends and relatives back home – if I wanted to talk to my friends and relatives back home I would not have come on holiday in the first place!

On holiday I have no interest in talking to anyone. I hide behind my book, wearing a scowl and dark sunglasses.  I have little interest in talking to my partner Becky let alone some couple from Birmingham who want to tell me about a camel ride they went on or some fantastically ancient temple worth visiting.

So, I have no real idea of what the next fortnight will bring. I have explained the situation in no uncertain terms to my son, told him to bring his own books, DVDs and that I will be looking to him to entertain himself. He seemed to understand, bobbing his head sagely at me and smiling his windy smiles. I feel quite confident I am heading towards two weeks of complete relaxation….

All my baby holiday tips come from this magazine!

All my baby holiday tips come from this magazine!

Flying Solo…

June 4, 2009

I pride myself on being a pretty good father – now. In the beginning I was hopeless, less than useless, as much good as a chocolate teapot, but now I feel as if I am actually getting the hang of this thing – most days.

However, in saying that my partner Becky has only left me alone with our son for short periods of time and even then I can see in her eyes she is highly sceptical of my abilities.

“What are you doing?” She called to me from the bedroom as I fed Noah in the nursery.

“I’m feeding the boy, why?” I replied.

“I just feel that you are doing something wrong,” she said, like she was Ben Kenobi and was using the force to sense fatherly ineptitude.

She is not completely wrong. If left for more than three hours with the boy my world does start to slowly crumble and implode. Systems break down around me and even Noah looks at me like I’m an idiot – bloody hell Dad, get your shit together!

This got me thinking about single parents and how amazing they are. Coping with a baby 24/7, 365 days of the year is just phenomenal. These people are super heroes, blessed with super human ability, patience and endurance. I genuinely don’t know how they do it and I am in awe of them.

I am so rubbish that I try to rationalise with my son when he is not doing what I want him to do. I try and rationalise with a nine week old baby! “Come on son,” I told him. “You know that’s not the way to drink your milk!”

So, my hat is off to those who are on this road alone with a little one. The one thing I do realise is just how easy I have it!

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Quality literature at its best!

Today I was trying to find out which Generation my 9 week old son is part of. Myself, I am very much a child of Generation X, reading the likes of Douglas Coupland, Bret Easton Ellis and being brought up on the movies of John Hughes.

I had wondered if he may be part of the MTV Generation, like Bart and Lisa Simpson. In the episode Homer’s Triple Bypass Bart and Lisa refer to themselves as such, describing the MTV Generation as one that feels neither highs nor lows. When Homer asks what it’s like, Lisa replies meh. This is definitely not my son, he is either all goo goo happy or screaming down the house – nothing in between, its ALL highs or lows for my son!

So what is the name for our children’s Generation? It’s neither X or Y, the Boomerang Generation, the Cold Y Generation or Generation Jones – and before you ask I have no idea who Jones is or was! It could be anyone from Tom Jones to Bridget Jones for all I know.

Are they the Eco Generation, the i-pod Generation, the Reality TV Generation or even the Recession Generation? I simply don’t know. Any thoughts please post them here….

I have no idea who I am, but that does not stop me wearing a cool hat!

I have no idea who I am, but that does not stop me wearing a cool hat!

The couple in the house opposite me have just had a baby. I know this because from my upstairs back window I can look across my yard, down into their yard and into their kitchen.

As I feed my baby I can watch them feed their baby, go about their  business and generally get on with their daily (and nightly) routines. I feel just like James Stewart, but with matted hair and baby sick on my pyjamas.

The woman of the house likes to sing to their child, while he has a habit of scratching himself you know where as he peers into the fridge searching for a midnight snack.

However, in my naivity it did not occur to me that if I can watch them singing and scratching then, from their upstairs back bedroom they can also watch me in my kitchen!

This had not occured to me during one of my 4am wanderings when my son would not settle, did not need changed and would not feed. All my rationale had gone completely out the window in a fit of delirious fatigue and then it struck me – he needed to be entertained. Entertained properly by a higher art form, something straight out of The West End!  However, being the philistine that I am the only theatre I have seen in the last few years is Dirty Dancing The Musical.

So, oblivious to the fact that I was being watched by a bemused couple and a quite terrified looking baby from across the way I belted out the Bill Medley, Jennifer Warnes hit Time of My Life to my son before finishing with a knee slide across the kitchen floor tiles, almost knocking Noah out of his bouncer seat.

These days I tend to draw the blinds in the kitchen before bed and when I pass those neighbours in the street we both nod politely and pretend nobody saw anything out of the ordinary. In saying that, I swear I could hear him whistling, “She’s like the wind,” as he walked off down the street the other day.

Nice Melons!

Nice Melons!