My son is only seven months old and already has more toys than he could ever play with. He has toys bought for him by our friends, his grandparents, the neighbours, in charity shops, given to him to by fellow parents… you name it, he has received toys in that way. The irony is that most of the time he is more interested in the box that the toy comes in than the toy itself. He can play with the box, then tear it to pieces and finally he can eat the box – many more uses than a simple plastic car.

However, what I am discovering as a parent is that the toys that drive me right up the wall are those bought for my son by people who do not have children of their own. Fellow parents turn up and gift things like soft toys, things made of foam, sometimes even clothes. The really smart people who are kind enough to buy us things realise that Noah already has more toys than Hamleys and buy a present for us instead of the boy. My favourite people are those who bring wine. On Noah’s birth my friend Terry gave me a bottle of 15 year old scotch – now that’s thinking!

The people who do not have children bring the toys that make the noise – and who can blame them. They are trying to be nice. They are wandering around the local toy store. They see a Proton Phaser Laser Light Saber with 60 different sounds and one volume setting – bloody loud! They realise that a small boy will love that kind of toy… and they are not wrong… but they are not thinking! A small boy may well love a Proton Phaser Laser Light Saber with 60 different sound effects but after 15 minutes of him battling the Sith at a hundred decibels the parents become quite homicidal. A week later the parents take the batteries out and the small boy is left with a Proton Phaser Laser Light Saber with no sound effects at all… which is a vast improvement, until the small boy uses the toy to smash every ornament, photograph, CD, book and lamp in the house.

So my friends, the moral of the story is this. We have all that we need. Please do not bring any more toys that make the noise. I may end up killing someone. All we want from our friends, relatives and neighbours is your friendship… and Terry, if you are reading this then some more 15 year old scotch would not go wrong.

Baby_Blues-noise

“See that Simon Cowell bloke,” I said to Steve the other night while we stared at the engine of his car trying to work out why it would not…er, go – to use a technical term. “According to the papers, he’s worth 17 billion pounds. According to the papers his income tax bill is 20 million quid – and that’s after he has claimed for stuff like haircuts!”

Steve pulled at a cable and then waggled the dipstick. “Ah, but is he happy?”

“Of course he’s fucking happy! He’s got a grillion pounds! What’s there not to be happy about?”

Steve pondered the question, gave up on the car, closed the bonnet and sat down heavily on it. “Yes, but he may not be happy. Different things make different people happy. Take me for instance, before my son was born I was a right miserable sod… but when Harry was born it completely changed the way I think about… well, everything. I believe  children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way….”

“Very poetic,” I replied. “You should send that to Whitney Houston…. I thought it was all about the triangle… you know – work life, home life, sex life? If you can sort those out then you are on to a happiness winner.”

“Nonsense,” snapped Steve before going to the boot of his car and producing 2 beers. Is that even legal?

“Work life? Who the hell is happy at work?” He continued.  “Most of us trade our days making shit, selling shit or trading shit that no one really needs. People that are happy at work are either idiots or fascists. Or fascist idiots….  Sex Life! You have a child. Has no one told you yet that having children will kill off your sex life quicker than getting gored in the nads by a walrus? The only time you will have sex now my friend is to have more bloody children,” and he took a long slurp of the possibly illegal car boot beer. “Home life. That’s what counts. That’s the only thing that is important. Once you work out that nothing else matters or is even slightly important the rest will fall into place. You, your partner, your children. That’s the traingle!”

These people are not happy. They are mental. There is a difference.

These people are not happy. They are mental. There is a difference.

The Stud.

October 18, 2009

It is a little known fact that the stud fastener was invented by a French man who disliked babies and hated parents even more.

Stu D’Fastener, a Parisien inventor, was so consumed by his anger towards all things parenting that after inventing this press together button he actually made it his life’s work to to secure a deal with the governments of the world ensuring that all baby gros should be fitted with stud fasteners.

So, the next time your baby’s screaming has reached a red faced crescendo and they are thrashing and kicking on the changing table as you fumble with the stud fasteners on the baby gro like you have two hands full of thumbs and you are thinking, ‘why can’t these bloody buttons be just a tiny bit bigger? I can’t fucking believe I have just buttoned this up wrong AGAIN! Why could they not have just used velcro or a zip? How easy would that make life?’

Remember, all these things are and could have been possible, but Stu D’Fastener was just a bit of a bastard!

French Inventor and all round bastard Stu D'Fastener.

French Inventor and all round bastard Stu D'Fastener.

Stop The Drop!

October 7, 2009

When  my seven month old son is awake I could juggle kittens and chainsaws.

My son would watch in rapture as I tossed kitten after chainsaw, chainsaw after kitten with hands as sure as England goalkeeper David James… hmmm, perhaps not the best example. Basically I am looking for a metaphor that says I have very safe hands, that there is little to no danger that any kittens will end up harmed even in the slightest by the flying chainsaws…. because that would not be nice, and probably messy, and may mentally scar my son for life – but this is not the point.

When my seven month old son is awake I don’t drop things. I am able to behave like an adult should. I can pick up plates from the dish rack, dry them and put them away without creating havoc. I can lift items from one place and put them down in another without incident. I can even prepare whole meals and most of the food stays on the plate.

And then there are the times when my son is asleep.

At the weekend he eventually fell asleep after two hours of grouching. As I tip toed from the nursery I dropped the baby bottle. Not only did it peel like a bell as it hit the floorboards it then managed to bounce and hit everything else in the room that could possibly make a loud, ugly, baby waking noise.

Two days ago when he was asleep on our bed and looking beautiful I thought I would take a photograph of him on my phone. Suddenly the phone turned to butter, springing from my hand and landing square on my son’s forehead. Naturally all hell broke loose.

This morning as he slept peacefully I lifted a blanket from the chair. I did not see the two (yes, two!) rattles that were sitting on the blanket. Both crashed to the ground waking him immediately.

Where does this dropsy come from? Is my karma bank so depleted I am being punished? Why can I no longer hold something or see the looming dangerous potential of something to create a cacophony of hoots, cackles and wails?

I would dwell on it longer but right now I have to take advantage of the fact Noah is finally asleep and  move this tray of champagne glasses to the top shelf.

child-20

OutRAGEous!

October 5, 2009

As a younger man, like many young men, I raged against the machine. I had boundless energy and too much testosterone and was generally angry at the world… for no particular reason. Things were too big, or too small, or not right, or unjust, or too just… or just too bloody stupid for words.

This is another great irony of life. I had all this energy and had no idea what to do with it and now, when I have a baby son to look after and a focus for all my energy, that energy has upped and buggered off leaving me sitting on the sofa wondering where it went.

Occasionally though something will happen that really gets my dander up – whatever dander happens to be, and this week my dander was well and truly up.

I have heard of people suffering from road rage, air rage, office rage, desk rage, rejection rage, work rage, bike rage and even trolley rage and this week I added a new rage to that list – pram rage.

You would hope that when you are walking along the pavement, pushing your pram carrying your delicate newborn that other pedestrians may afford you a little courtesy and perhaps walk on the outside of the pavement nearest the traffic. Failing that you would hope that they would see you coming and stand aside so that you can manoeuvre the buggy past them and carry on down the road – this is what you would hope… but not in this bloody town!

This week I have been constantly thwarted, challenge, ignored and shunted by people with little or no manners. A hooded teenager refused to move out of the way, standing stock still and glowering at me through his acne. A woman at a bus stop seemed to think that if she moved just an inch to let me past the bus she was waiting on would not stop for her – I actually had to bump off the kerb, on to the road, go round her and bump back up.  A fat man on a narrow pavement clung to the inside forcing me to take the outside, nearest the hurtling, buzzing traffic.

On each occasion if it had not been my son in his pram and I had, for some odd reason, simply been pushing an empty four wheeled, chariot like contraption I would have given in to my pram rage and rammed these people where it hurt.

I have visions of turning my son’s Bugaboo into some kind of Ben Hur war machine with fierce blades on the outsides of the wheels and me at the back brandishing a whip. Now that would be justice!

Outta the way lady, I've got a mother and toddler coffee morning to get to!

Outta the way lady, I've got a mother and toddler coffee morning to get to!

Okay, so it’s the 21st century and we men are meant to be all Sex And The City and metrosexual and whatever else…. and to a certain extent I am. The other day I was annoyed at myself when I noticed that I was so busy looking after my son that I had left the house without putting any moisturiser on! That is the kind of statement that if vocalised to my father he would probably hit me with a shovel…. or some other heavy, blunt implement that is used in manual labour – which is what real men do.

However, amongst all this effeminate behaviour of mine there still beats the heart of a warrior – just one that would want to perhaps put a bit of concealer on before going into battle. And it’s these braveheart like stirrings from deep within that  make me wish for my son to be a good, strong and brave man.

“I worry we baby him too much,” I said to my partner Becky.

“I would hope so,” she replied. “He is a baby after all.”

“No, I know that…. I just worry that the things we do now will shape his behaviour forever. Some days he seems really needy… and he wants his dummy a lot…. he’s not going to be much of a Spartan with behaviour like that. What about fighting wolves at aged 7 and not understanding the meaning of fear!?”

“What did I tell you about watching that bloody film!” Becky retorted, in what I thought was a rather Spartanly wife like way. “For a start this is London in 2009 not Greece in 650 BC! There are no wolves in the UK… and if I even catch you thinking about teaching him any sort of fighting you will be in big bloody trouble!” And she glared at me until I did not have the courage to hold her gaze any longer.

I dwelled on our conversation and my son’s future for most of that day and by the time bedtime came around I was satisfied my son would grow up to be brave and strong – how could any child with a mother as scary as Becky become anything but the most fearless of modern day, UK based, non wolf fighting Spartans.

Carter+Sparta