The Curious Case Of Albert Royall
One of the most rewarding aspects of having a young child is watching them learn new tricks. I suppose ‘skills’ would be a more appropriate description – tricks makes it sound like Albert has learnt to jump through a hoop or balance a beachball on his nose. By the same token, ‘skills’ makes it sound like he’s learnt needlepoint or French, which I can assure you he hasn’t. Either way, it’s been...
Daddy's Coming Home
Somewhere, in the big rulebook of human behaviour, there’s a chapter on parental duties. This ancient record, drawn up by our forefathers, divides all the household chores neatly into mum jobs and dad jobs. I’m not sure what our foremothers were doing at the time (the dishes, probably) because the division of labour is appallingly one-sided. I don’t really need to elaborate on the details,...
One Night in Luton
Here’s a fun fact. Our travel cot is exactly the same size as the bathroom floor-space in a budget room at the Luton Ibis hotel. Ok, maybe that wasn’t necessarily a fun fact, per se, but I can assure you it is undeniably a fact. As I survey it from the doorway the head of the travel cot is pressed up against the sink, the foot of the cot is pressed up against the toilet, and the far cot wall...
... And Breathe
Is it illegal to drink tequila in a children’s hospital? There are no signs anywhere saying you can’t. Maybe it’s one of those things where it just goes without saying. Except it obviously doesn’t or I wouldn’t be asking the question right now. In the absence of any forbidding signs I’m just going to assume that it’s probably frowned upon but not explicitly outlawed. I take a furtive swig from my...
Long time no blog, right? Sorry about that. How are you? How are the kids? Actually, don’t bother, I’m not interested. We’re here to talk about my kid, ok? If you want to bore me with tales of your simpering progeny then you should update your sodding dadblog. [[MORE]] A lot’s happened since my last missive so I should probably just crack on. First things first: Albert has turned one. We had a...
Crawl of Duty: Mortal Wombat
Anyone got any cotton wool? I need enough to cover… *makes complex mental calculations*… uh, EVERYTHING. After spending 10 and a half months happily sat on his arse or lying prostrate on his back (not the front, never the front), Albert has finally decided it’s time to give forward motion a try. His initial attempts at crawling were predictably pathetic (lunge, faceplant, cry, repeat). Then, for...
Here’s a top parenting tip: don’t have a sick baby. Better yet, don’t have a baby at all. That one piece of advice alone should ensure you many years of happy contentment – but if you really must insist on saddling your life with a squawking, little flesh bag, for the love of god, don’t get a sick one. [[MORE]] It was inevitable really. I’m not the healthiest specimen of humankind myself,...
Boy Meets World
I am a jaded, cynical soul. World-weary even. I am weary of the world. That’s a terrible thing to admit about yourself, but there you have it. The world, after all, is a big place. There’s quite a lot of stuff in it to be weary of, much of it laudable. Bees, dogs, socks, velcro, tree-frogs, lolcats, piñatas, microwaves, Beyonce, skateboarding pets, people called Gary, metamorphic rocks, large...
This Old Man
Bloody hell, do you know how old Albert is? Probably not, no. Why would you? He’s not your child, after all. And other people’s children are pretty much the dictionary definition of ‘not that interesting.’ I realise that kind of undermines the whole point of this blog, which is why I try to write about slightly broader themes than just “Albert rolled over!” or...
Baby On Board
There’s something about having a baby that makes people think you’re a nice person. Complete strangers will smile and nod at you simply because you’re carrying a small human around. Having a baby says, “I am a caring, trustworthy person, capable of putting someone else’s needs above my own.” Or at the very least “I am not too proud to wipe someone else’s arse.” It’s not necessarily true, of...
Happy (belated) Christmas!
Sorry for the silent blog treatment. It’s nothing personal, I’ve just been a bit distracted with a few other projects, not to mention a Christmas holiday to Australia. Please accept this family portrait as an apology for my tardiness. In related news I’ve just now decided to collate all of Albert’s photo protests into another tumblr. I give you CRANKY ALBERT!...
It began, as it so often does, with a solitary word. “Pint?” An innocent enough enquiry, I’m sure you’ll agree, posed to a fellow gentleman via the medium of text message. Nothing wrong with that, is there? I suppose, with the benefit of hindsight and in the interests of factual accuracy, it should have read “Nine pints, two bottles of sauvignon blanc, one bottle of fizzy wine and a pad Thai?”...
This Won't Squirt A Bit - Part 2
Part 1 can be found here. The doctor looks up, first at me and then at my wife. “I erm… suppose I could… ah… take a look at it.” His face is now a vivid shade of hot pink. “Would you mind erm… removing your top please? And umm… your bra.” We seem to have accidentally stumbled into a terrible John Hughes coming-of-age movie. I start to wonder if our doctor is actually a doctor, and not just a...
This Won't Squirt A Bit
“Is there anything else you want to ask?” enquires the young, male doctor. Mid-twenties probably. 27 tops. I have officially reached that point in life’s great conveyor belt of clichés where you start guessing your doctor’s age. “Yes,” replies my wife. “I want to talk about my boobs.” This isn’t the response the doctor had been expecting. In the preceding 20 minutes we had discussed our baby’s...
Suck It And See
Within a few hours of birth, many animals are not only feeding but standing up and walking around. I remember watching a baby foal being born on Countryfile once and marveling at how quickly it was up and drunkenly gambolling about on its long, wobbly legs. By these standards, I think it’s fair to say our baby is pretty useless. He can’t walk. He can’t crawl. He can’t communicate in anything...
Whatever Works - Part 2
Part 1 can be found here. Two hours later, I wake up with a start. Silence fills the room. Sweet, merciful silence. I allow myself a few moments of quiet ecstasy before the inevitable creeping dread invades my consciousness. “Just go back to sleep,” I try telling myself. “He’s absolutely fine.” But already it’s too late. The seed of fear has been planted. “What if he rolled over and suffocated...
Whatever Works - Part 1
“HEEEENGH! WAAARRGHAAHHH!” exclaims the little man with the big voice before repeating himself just in case I didn’t catch it the first time. I’ve been listening to Albert cry for an hour now. Listening so hard I can practically see the audio waves. And yet, I still have no idea what’s wrong. My wife only recently fed him so he can’t be hungry. I’ve tried rocking him. I’ve tried changing his...
It’s a chemical con. A hormonal hoax. Love, that is. I don’t want to strip away the romance for you but there’s simply no other explanation. How else is it possible to adore someone you’ve only just met? I’m talking about little Albert, of course, but the same theory applies to anyone and everyone. Why do you love your wife/husband/girlfriend/uncle/hamster/all of the above? Why does anyone love...
It Was A Good Day
12. 52 I run down the hospital corridor carrying our bags towards the maternity ward reception. My wife follows some distance behind, immobilised every few steps by another excruciating convulsion. “My wife… is in labour,” I wheeze urgently at the woman behind the desk. “Contractions… every minute.” She looks over her glasses at me with a weary expression. “Take a seat and fill in this form.” I...
Time's Up, Shorty
Time’s up, shorty. Can you hear me? Last time I saw you, on a fuzzy ultrasound scan, I don’t think you had ears, but you do now, so no excuses. It’s only a matter of days now until you arrive, so I thought I’d give you the quick lowdown on what to expect. You are fully cooked. Every organ, every bone, every limb you need, you’ve got it. Head, shoulders, knees and toes; they’re all there. I...
Reasons To Be Cheerful
I wasn’t sure what to write about this week. It feels like I’ve covered everything there is to say about pregnancy. Ultrasound scans? Done. Ante-natal classes? Check. Parental jitters? Ditto. Male lactation? Been there, done that, stained the t-shirt. So I started reading over a few of my previous columns to see if I’d missed anything, and I couldn’t help but notice a worrying trend. Or more...
The Baby Toothbrush
There’s a baby toothbrush in our house. I haven’t seen it for a couple of months but I know it’s there. Somewhere. It haunts me at night when I can’t get to sleep. Why is there a baby toothbrush in our house? We don’t have a baby. Or at least, we shouldn’t have one for another four weeks. And I’m pretty sure babies are born without teeth. In fact, they generally don’t sprout fangs until...
Queasy Does It
Let me start with a confession. In my previous column, about our first ante-natal class, I may have given you the impression that while my wife struggled with her emotions, I remained manfully stoic throughout; that she trembled like a leaf and I was a rock; a resolute source of comfort in times of uncertainty and graphic childbirth videos. Did I give you that impression? I was certainly...
The midwife bounces gently on a large inflatable exercise ball, holding a cow skull in one hand and a baby doll in the other. This, and I can’t stress this enough, is not an ordinary Thursday for me. Ordinary has flown out the window. Ordinary has joined a travelling circus. Ordinary has gone for a walk in the desert with a pocket full of peyote and won’t be back for a very long time. “You...
Life, Death & Disney
I don’t know about you, but I haven’t planned on dying. Like going to India or watching all three Lord of the Rings films, it’s something I’m curious about but have no intention of actually ever doing. I know there’s some boring old aphorism about death and taxes being unavoidable, but frankly I’ve had a look at my payslip and I figure that since I’m doing so much of one then I might get a...
Prepare to have your tiny minds blown. I know you’re not reading this column expecting your entire belief system to be irrevocably shattered but that’s what I’m going to do, damn it. Should have thought of that before you started digging around the shadowy back pages of Stylist’s website. To those of you who want to opt out, better do it now. There’s no shame in clicking the back button and...
Panic In The Playground
“What’s that?” “A hedge.” “What’s that?” “A letterbox” “What’s that?” “A tractor.” This is Max’s favourite game. He points at things. You tell him what they are. Max knows what these things are already, however this seems to be immaterial to his enjoyment of the game. Max is three. “What’s that?” “The sun.” To be fair, I’m not sure he did know that one; he is English after all. My...
The Not-So-Magical Scan
“Well, that wasn’t very magical,” says my wife. She’s right. It really wasn’t. I’m not sure what we’d been expecting, but I distinctly remember being promised magic. Everyone we’d spoken to had said the 20-week scan was going to be an amazing experience. By now our baby would look like a baby, and not like the weird grey jellybean it looked like at three months. We’d get to say hi. We’d...
That’s everyone told then. I appear to have announced my impending parenthood, not via the traditional method of Facebook status or Twitter update, but instead through a sodding full-page magazine article with colour pictures. (I really should have ironed that cardi.) Obviously I’d told my family already, but an embarrassing number of friends and colleagues were still in the dark until two...
We're Having A Baby
“We’re having a baby.” This has been the soundtrack to my last three-and-a-bit months. Occasionally it’s said out loud to delighted friends and family but mostly just inside my head. Over and over and over again. And it’s this internal, four-word monologue that my wife interrupts while we’re sat on the train. “I want to show you something in Stylist” she says pulling a crumpled...