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Tuesday, 29 March 2016

The Twin's 1st Day At Nursery

At eleven and a half months it was time to take the twins to nursery for the first time. There were a few tears but after a while I managed to compose myself and get up off the floor.


I jest, of course. It was more complicated than that.

The nursery staff came and gave the boys a friendly smile and very impressively, knew which twin was which.

My wife handed Ben over as the knot (that wasn’t there ten seconds before) tightened at the pit of my stomach.

Zac started crying immediately. Normally when he cries it’s because he’s tired or hungry or he’s done a poo the size of his head. But this was a different cry. This wasn’t whiney – this was desperate. 

There was real, adult emotion in his sobbing. He sounded like he’d been betrayed.

As tears streamed down his face he shot me a look that seemed to say:

I trusted you. We had something. But you’ve brought me here. A strange place where I don’t know anyone. How could you?

I was aware that graphic interpretation of his crying wasn’t doing anyone any favours so I quickly turned to Ben in hope that he’d have already settled in, having been there now for a full twenty five seconds.

Someone had sat Ben down on the floor, facing away from me. He still had his coat on (clearly outing him as a newbie) and all the other kids had scrambled round to get a closer look at the fresh meat. 

Some were crawling, a few were standing up, one was even doing this rather unsettling arse-shuffle that I’d previously only seen dogs do. But they had one thing in common – they were all staring at him.

Staring in the way that only kids can. Wide-eyed and with enough intensity to cook an egg.

There was no malice in them, clearly, but my god it was intimidating.

Don’t show any weakness, son I thought to myself before remembering that this was an Ofsted-approved nursery, not a high security prison.

The staring continued but Ben stared back. Some of the regular ‘crew’ grew bored and went back to their daily tasks of nose picking and raspberry blowing. A small victory it may well be, but I felt a huge jolt of parental pride as I watched my son settle into his new surroundings with all the ease of a foot into a comfy old slipper.

Unfortunately I hadn’t been that wrong about something since I accidentally brushed my teeth with Anusol at the Glastonbury Festival in 2004.

He slowly turned his head towards me and I knew I’d been premature when I could see his bottom lip protruding from his face like a novelty draught excluder.

He did one of those extended inhales that babies do when they’re preparing for an extra noisy bawl – it seemed to last longer than The Leveson Enquiry – and he let rip with a scream you could cut diamonds with.

At this point I made the executive decision for us to leave the room. The whole scene was beginning to resemble something from Kramer Vs Kramer and another kiss goodbye would’ve been like throwing petrol on an emotional chip pan fire. I grabbed my wife like a presidential bodyguard in the midst of an assassination attempt and we fought our way through the empty corridors until we were outside in the rain. I think it was raining, it may have been Ben’s tears.

We got into the car feeling strangely all grown up. Our babies had become, if not quite little boys yet, significantly older babies. My wife opened up the small gift bag the staff had given her – it contained a packet of tissues and a couple of biscuits. I secretly wanted a tissue but made do with a chocolate digestive.

We looked at each other and tried to convince ourselves they’d be alright. After all, it was only a day at nursery, right?

Then we realised we had another conundrum to contend with. What on earth would we do with ourselves for the next seven hours?

We could do pretty much ANYTHING for the WHOLE day. No nappies, no bottles. Just us.

Scary. What the fuck were we going to talk about?

If you’ve enjoyed this blog and have 30 seconds to spare feel free to nominate me in the 2016 MAD Blog Awards. There’s a link on the top right of this page. Thanks muchly J

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

You Don't Have To Enjoy Every Moment of Parenthood

Parenthood is like a novelty rollercoaster through a farm - plenty of ups and downs with tonnes of shit and screaming.

But before I divide the readership, let's all agree that being a parent is the most rewarding, amazing and unique experience we are lucky enough to have.

All on board? Good.

Next, let's agree that at certain times it is HARD. More difficult than Chinese algebra. Tougher than a Wetherspoon’s steak. In short, fucking difficult.

Is it realistic to enjoy every single moment when you feel like a malnourished zombie who’d do time for a lie in?

The magical times make everything else worthwhile but it’s hard to remember your baby’s first laugh when you’re scraping dried porridge off the kitchen wall with a razor blade. Of course, wiping shit off your hands with a fresh bout of child-induced tinnitus could be your idea of heaven, in which case you would’ve REALLY enjoyed last Wednesday.

Maybe I read the wrong books pre-fatherhood. All full of practical advice and no mention of the living hell that certain moments would cause. Moments that make you want to jam a rusty spoon down your ear to check your brain is still there.

Take nap time for instance. The romantic notion is that your baby drifts off to sleep while you hold them in your arms, stroking their hair. The reality is more like trying to smother an emotionally unstable overgrown salmon that’s learned how to scream.

And as beautiful as our twins are, I found out the hard way that washing their necks feels like running your hand under an old settee that’s been left out in the rain.

A little bit of honesty is all I’m asking for. If driving manuals adopted the same blinkered approach as some of these parenting books they’d be talking about how ‘your bond will now be beginning to develop with the road’ as you mount the pavement and plough into a group of pedestrians.

Sleep deprivation makes everything difficult. An all-consuming soup of confusion that descends and takes charge like a dozy supply teacher. I was once so burnt out I spent five minutes queuing up behind a row of parked cars. I knew I’d be tired but nobody told me that exhaustion becomes as much a part of life as your eyebrows.

If your only reference point is the utopian bullshit painted in these books, the hard-faced reality of parenthood can make you feel useless. A fraud. Worse still, a failure. When my boys start crying I’m often tempted to just join in.

As a comedian I’ve worked on mental health projects that use comedy to help aid an honest discussion. We encourage people to communicate their emotions, not bottle them up. If we create an impossible vision of parenthood that none of us can compare to, everyone falls short.

And that’s as unhealthy as the packet of biscuits I had for breakfast.

To admit you’re struggling takes courage. 

Of course, some people disagree. Those holier-than-thou super-parents, smugness oozing from their mouth like puss from a sore.

You’re lucky to have kids in the first place!

When did discussing the challenges of a situation mean you weren't grateful? I’m grateful for being born into a country that isn’t war-torn or disease-ridden but I still get annoyed when the wifi doesn’t work.

Every time I look at my boys I feel like the luckiest man on the planet. And every time they won’t nap I know the rest of the day will be more challenging than flying a kite on the moon.

You should be enjoying time with your baby!

I love my sons more than I thought it was possible to love anything. The word ‘love’ seems like a pathetic piss-take when describing how I feel – I ‘love’ chips too, for instance. The concept of love is as insignificant as MySpace compared to the all-consuming devotion to my sons I’m filled with every waking second.

Clearly, I do enjoy time with my babies.

But I would argue it's impossible to enjoy time with ANYONE when you've had two hours broken sleep and they’ve morphed into an uncontrollable slurry truck who can scream louder than The Who.

So, I’m not enjoying every single moment. But I love being a dad.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

10 Things I've Learned as a Parent This Week (#25)

1.It's easy to get to midday and realise you've not stopped since 6am but have achieved a grand total of fuck all.

2.Postman Pat is really starting to get on my tits.

3.You don't need an alarm clock when your son can just twat you in the face repeatedly.

4.Highlight of the week: Twin 1 pressing a toy that shouted 'Well done!' seconds after Twin 2 noisily shat himself.

5.If your son headbutts you on the nose mid-cuddle there's a good chance you'll also jolt your head back and whack it on the wall. Happy times.

6.A baby who poos while you're feeding them is, if nothing else, efficient.

7.Only as a parent have I ever sat down on the toilet and thought, 'yep, I've earned this...'

8.If our washing machine and tumble dryer were in a trade union they would've called a walkout for better working conditions months ago.

9.Nothing will underline how utterly exhausted you are more than sitting on the sofa for two minutes.

10.After my wife spending the week in bed with norovirus I have even more respect for single parents. I doff my cap to all of you.

10 Things I've Learned as a Parent This Week (#24)

1.I don't care how strong you think you are, nobody is stronger than a baby that doesn't want to get dressed.

2.Incredibly smug parents are more irritating than genital warts.

3.It's entirely possible for a sweet, beautiful baby to stink like the Glastonbury toilets.

4.If youth is wasted on the young, parenthood is wasted on the tired.

5.My son's "poo stare" is more intense than an episode of This Is England.

6.A 6 month old kicking you in the balls is funny. An 11 month old kicking you in the balls isn't.

7.People who don't pick their dog shit up from kids parks should have their nose rubbed in it.

8.Nothing halts frivolity quicker than a baby grabbing your glasses.

9.I'm pretty sure the lingering stench of that last nappy has taken value off our house.

10.Getting pissed on by your baby is not an acceptable Mother's Day gift.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

The Secret Diary of an 11 Month Old (Part 17)

Nappy leaked today. Went everywhere. Decided to kick what was left all over the wall. Big people were grossed out but come on, we’ve all done it. What’s their problem?

That music on the baby monitor is proper shit. There’s no beat. Give me something I can move to.

Faffed about forever before naptime. Threw stuff about and puked a bit. Finally got settled but then did a poo bigger than my head. Nap got postponed. Nobody was happy. What else could I have done?

Woke up crying because I’d leaked. Big person tried to burp me. Didn’t work because I’d leaked. Big person put the pretty lights on. Didn’t work because I’d leaked. Big person sang lullabies. Didn’t work because I’d leaked. Leak reached their hand. Big person changed me. Went back to sleep. Big person is stupid.

I’m feeling quite obsessed with one of the big people. Hate it when she leaves the room. Not the hairy one though. I don’t think he knows what he’s doing.

Had a bad dream last night that I was an actual big person. Christ, it was horrible. Had loads to do and no time to do it. And I looked terrible.

I think someone has been reading my diary and showing everyone. No doubt some two-bit clown desperate for a cheap laugh at my expense. Well guess what, thief? I just pooed in your coat pocket.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

10 Things I've Learned as a Parent This Week #23

1.People who say you should 'enjoy every single moment of parenthood' are at best, unrealistic and at worst, morons.

2.There's more chance of seeing a Dodo than the bottom of your laundry basket.

3.Nap time is fucking brilliant.

4.Dried up weetabix on the kitchen floor is like frigging Tarmac.

5.Constantly using a happy voice with your kids helps keep your head through the sheer insanity of it all.

6.Whoever came up with the idea of a beauty facial was definitely feeding porridge to a baby at the time.

7.Babies can be more fussy about their food than Mary Berry.

8.Visiting a 'Nearly New' sale is a great opportunity to get rid of all the old, unwanted baby stuff and replace it with an equal amount of shite.

9.The following conversation is pure fiction:
"Shall I put a wash on?"

10.Your baby's first wave will make you weep.*

*Especially if it occurs on the day you had to give his beloved Jumperoo away. Was he waving it goodbye?