101 days… and counting…

You're the Daddy

A few weeks ago, thinking perhaps I ought to start reading a bit about this whole parenting lark, I picked up a book on establishing a good sleeping routine for your child. It seemed straightforward and easy to read, so I thought it would be worth giving it a go – you never know, I thought, I might actually learn something useful. I determined, however, that I would read it alongside the latest Stephen Baxter or whatever, so I didn’t feel like I was back at uni doing the Childhood Development module of my Psychology degree… but flip me if it wasn’t as dry as a Rich Tea biscuit which had had all the moisture sucked out of it by some kind of moisture-draining vampire! Not surprisingly then, I only managed to get through a dozen or so pages before I was utterly overwhelmed by the book’s brain-desiccating properties. I gave up. And I vowed henceforth that I wasn’t going to read another book on parenting unless it was fun and entertaining, as well as educational. I mean, parenting is meant to be a joy, not just a scientific experiment, right?

Then I spotted Stephen Giles’ book at the library, on a tableful of other books on parenting and things. I was taken in by its witty title, the snappy little semi-rhyming sub-heading (“From nappy mess to happiness in one year”) and its humorous cover pic of the eyes of a befuddled dad (presumably those of Giles) peering over a smiling, gurgling (so it appeared) baby… not to mention the fact that it was just over a hundred pages long… That’s the book on parenting for me! – I thought; so I checked it out and started to consume its wise and witty words straightaway.

In accordance with my aforementioned vow, You’re the Daddy was, from the off, primarily entertaining. Giles’ voice is similar to another favoured non-fiction author of mine, Danny Wallace – so it was a bit like reading another book by Danny Wallace, which just happened to be about surviving the first twelve months of fatherhood. It was chatty, informal, anecdotal, and although, in the spirit of honesty and frankness, Giles speaks about the frustrating, stressful and downright horrifying aspects of being a new dad, amidst his relating of its incomparable joys, there is nothing in what he says or the way he says it that led me down the path of o-my-god-what-have-we-done-we’ve-made-a-terrible-mistake… and things. In fact… as my reading of the book progressed, there were times when I just wanted to say to the author, “Just quit your moaning and get on with it!”

Now obviously I’m not a parent yet, and every parent that has ever existed would probably say to me that I can’t possibly know what it will be like until I start travelling down that path, but there are aspects of this book that have been oddly reassuring in perhaps unintentional ways. I mean, I know I’m a bit odd and deal with some parts of life (alright, probably most parts) a bit (or maybe a lot) differently to other folk, so I don’t want to be too harsh on the man, but just by way of a few examples…

1. EARNING A LIVING… Stephen Giles works from home, as a writer, and frequently speaks of finding it immensely difficult to establish a working routine around the baby… but if one is fortunate enough to be in this kind of position, doesn’t it make sense to learn to be flexible and adaptable, to work when the baby is asleep, and to not expect the baby to sleep at specific times of the day and only work during these times?

2. FAMILY… I know I see my family relatively rarely, but Giles & Co seem to experience (endure!) an inordinate amount of family visits in the first year of the baby’s life – visiting and being visited – to which I’d be tempted just to say… keep the rellies away! Obviously family are important and people will want to visit, but for at least the first few months, it seems to me that parents/baby need to be established as the number one priority.

3. DAY TRIPS… Giles seems a little obsessed with taking the baby out on trips to the park, heritage sites, bookshops (bookshops!), etc… which is all well and good, but they rarely seem to have the desired result… and he seems to constantly forget to pack essentials, like nappies… to which I might say… do months-old babies really care about castles, ducks and bookshelves? Wouldn’t they be equally/more happy sitting on a blanket in the garden, playing with colourful toys and listening to music?

There are other similar things, but like I said, I don’t want to be too harsh on the man… and I am a bit different… I’ve never had as much of a need for sociability as most other people… I don’t see my family that much (which I think ties in with the sociability thing)… and although I don’t work from home, I have a bit of a – *ahem* – “different” attitude to work (ambition? Missing the “cut and thrust” of the office? Does not compute…)… so like I said, this book has been reassuring in ways it probably didn’t intend – I can’t imagine worrying or fretting about some of the things Stephen Giles worried and fretted about; and I can’t imagine some of his issues being issues for me at all… which can only be a good thing! 🙂