Posted on 27 January 2011.
I love being a father. My son, The Monkey, brings myself and my wife great pleasure and happiness. And I’m sure pretty much every other set of parents feels the same way.
Before Jake was born we read a lot of books and scoured hundreds of websites trying to learn as much as we could about babies and toddlers in the hope that we would be the best parents ever. We learned a lot from the experts behind these books and websites. Alas, they neglected to tell us certain things that had we known before Jake was born our lives would have been so much easier.
Here is a list of 10 such things that we have learned…
1. Not all baby poo is equal.
Ordinary baby poo smells, we all know that. It’s bad, but not so bad that it makes you retch. However, if you feed baby some food with a high meat content, the stink level goes off the scale. I have never retched so hard in my life when I had to change Jakes nappy after a feed of Gerbers finest meat based baby food. And before you say anything it’s not just a man thing, my wife suffered the same too. So bear in mind that what you put in to baby has a major impact on the smell of what comes out of baby.
2. They learn to be manipulative at a surprisingly early stage.
At 4 months Jake learned how to manipulate those around him with cute looks in order to get the most attention. If there were several people in a group around him he would move his head to point at each person in the group and make a cute look. If the person failed to respond with enough attention for him, he moved on to the next person and repeated the process. Having observed this I can be certain that there were deliberate though processes powering these actions. When you think your 18 month old has just learned to take advantage of you, bear in mind they have probably been doing so for about a year already.
3. They are stronger than they look.
Although Jake is tall for his age, he is still skinny. This is perfectly normal for a toddler of his age. Although, he doesn’t look like he could take an adult on in a fight, the truth that he can lay down a fairly painful punch if he wants to. There have been occasions where either myself or my wife have been holding him and he has seen something that he wants to investigate (usually an animal of some kind). When this happens he wants to be put down immediately and will struggle to break free from our grip, but we have to hold on to him for safety reasons. Although we usually win, we pay the price through sheer exhaustion. And just today I got a nice punch in the face from Jake after he decided he did not want to get eyedrops to help cure his conjunctivitis. To be fair getting eyes drops isn’t pleasant and I could see why he would want to fight back. So bear in my parents everywhere, toddlers are a lot stronger than they look.
4. Crèches will make your child and you sick.
Crèches are like aeroplanes in that loads of people come in to a confined space and force everyone else to share their germs, but with children instead of passengers. You child is going to get sick from other children, your child is going to get other children sick. And no matter what – the parents are going to get sick too. It’s normal and there isn’t lot you can do about it except take the usual precautions to prevent you and your family getting an infection such as eating healthily, exercising and taking vitamin supplements
5. The paperwork is a right pain.
Imagine a pile of forms that you will need to fill in for your child during their first year. Now multiply that pile in height by 10 and you will be heading in the right direction.
There is so much paperwork that need to be processed for your child that you never know when it has all been completed. For example this is a selection of things that we had to process for Jake in his first year…
- Birth registration.
- Hospital forms.
- Hospital bill.
- Community nurse paperwork.
- GP (local doctor) registration.
- Vaccination records.
- Never ending scheduled health check-ups.
- Passport application.
- Medical insurance applications.
- Child benefit applications.
- Bank account opening.
- Trust fund openings.
- Crèche/daycare paperwork.
The worst thing about all this is that there is no list of things you need to do paperwork-wise when a baby is born. We learned all this as we went along or got letter in the post asking why we hadn’t something we were supposed to. It was all such a pain.
6. Even more expensive than you think.
We all know that having a baby is expensive. Hospital bills, clothes, nappies, food, pram, car set etc. It all adds up pretty quickly. Sadly there are loads more other costs that are very easy to overlook.
Firstly, the car seat and pram you bought will have to be replaced. They don’t last as long as you think. Jake is already on to his thrid pram and he has just managed to break the foam inside his car seat. In fairness, we are fairly outdoorsy people and that could explain the rapid pram replacement. But we paid lot for each pram, yet only got about 8 months use out of each. You should expect the same no matter how much you spend.
By having a baby you instantly become members of the new parents club. All of a sudden neighbours, colleagues and friends will invite you to their children’s birthday parties. You will have to buy presents, it won’t be cheap.
You will discover soon enough that the cheaper nappies will make babas bottom a bit red and that you will have to buy the expensive branded ones from then on. The same goes for wipes too.
And I haven’t even discussed the cost of baby sitters and Christmas!
Yep, it’s more expensive than you could have ever imagined.
7. It won’t affect your social life, until…
…baby learns how to crawl. Up to that point our baby will be a little cute stationary bundle of love who will happily stay in their pram all day long. You can go to restaurants, do shopping and even go to the cinema without any problems. Once your baby learns how to move on their own say goodbye to your social life. From this point forward you will need attention 110% of the time and there’s nothing you can do about it.
8. Some people hate babies and will let you know this.
There are some people in the world who have a weird and downright irrational hatred of babies. There are the people who say things like “I hate being in a room with a crying baby” or “I don’t want that baby anywhere near me”. Some of these people will actually let you know how much your child irritates them. Although I have never experienced it as I am built like a proverbial outside toilet, my wife has. She has had people come up to her in restaurants and tell her to make Jake be quite, sometimes this happens when he is just making happy sounds and not even crying.
The people who say such things are idiots who don’t realise that they were babies once and probably caused the same commotion out in public. Babies do make sounds and yes they sometimes cry, it is annoying, but it is also a natural part of being ahuman being.
If someone says something to you along these lines just point out that they are being a hypocrite as they were babies too. Whatever you do, don’t let it get to you!
9. Most child locks are crap.
Yep, they are. We’ve tried loads and The Monkey has learned how to defeat each one either through intelligence or sheer brute force. So stay alert mum and dad, always keep an eye on the little one.
10. Valuables will get lost or destroyed.
You can never make a house 100% child proof, your baby will find and destroy important things. You have to accept that. Jake hid my fancy Nokia N900 smartphone last October and I still haven’t found it.
11. It’s more amazing than you could ever imagine.
A bonus point just to say that despite what I have said above, I love being a dad. I wouldn’t have it any other way and I am so glad that I have such a wonderful son. Yes, it’s expensive and tiring, but I don’t care. Jake makes everything perfect for me and I recommend fatherhood to everyone.