…One Sunday afternoon many years ago I had to get a box out of our loft. I opened the loft hatch, lowered the ladders, went up into the roof space and found the box I was after. It was full of comic books and it was heavy. Really heavy. And so the sensible thing to do was to wait until Lyndsay came home so that she could help retrieve it. But, for some reason, I thought screw that. I came into this loft to get this box and get this box I shall. So I dragged it to the opening and started to descend the ladder pulling the thing after me.
It was at this point, halfway down the ladder and with a tonne-weight in my arms, that my pyjama trousers fell down.
I know. Comedy gold…
I don’t just mean they crept low on my waist or revealed a seductive glimpse of arse cleft. I mean my pyjamas, with no underwear beneath, literally fell down around my ankles.
In that instant I was living in a seventies sitcom. ‘“Matt” is filmed in front of a live studio audience’ etc. But, instead of this amusing bit of slapstick generating canned laughter, it generated something close to horror. You have to understand, I now found myself halfway up a ladder, holding a massive weight in my arms and because of my ankle-trousers I was completely unable to move. No more able to go up the ladder as I was down.
I couldn’t pull my trousers up because my arms were holding the box and if I let go of that it would come crashing down on me, probably crush me to death under its weight and I would be discovered on our first-floor landing hours later, assumed to have died whilst apparently having sex with a cardboard box.
I ran a gamut of emotions. There was a moment in which I found it funny, then a moment when I found it ridiculous and finally I settled on an emotion that is best described as terror. I thought, I’m stuck here, I can’t move, no one knows I’m in this situation.
This is how it ends.
I stayed like this for what seemed like hours (it was probably minutes), in a situation that, as far as I could see, could not get any worse.
It was at this precise moment that the situation got worse. As our window cleaner appeared four feet away, cleaning the landing window with a cheerful whistle. He peered in and, seeing me standing there, gave an uncomfortable thumbs up.
Now, a normal person would have seen this as an opportunity for rescue, but not me. I simply spent the next five minutes pretending I couldn’t see him. I just stood there, facing forward, on my ladder, holding a large box and naked from the waist down, whispering to myself through gritted teeth, ‘Christ, Kevin, how long does it take to clean a fucking window?’
Eventually, Kevin finished cleaning the landing window, made a mockery of my attempts to seem invisible by shouting, ‘Alright, mate, see you later,’ and then descended his own ladder.
Somehow, after a while, I managed to shuffle my feet out of my pyjamas, kick them to one side and slowly made my way to safety with some relief. Just as Lyns arrived home early.
“Why have you got no trousers on?”
“Well, I was getting the box out of the loft and –”
“Never mind. I do. not. want. to. know.” She said shaking her head and clearly wondering, not for the first time, how she now found herself in a twenty-odd-year relationship with a colossal dickhead.
When it comes to the past couple of years, I keep thinking about this incident. It is perhaps the closest I ever came to feeling like a parent before becoming one.
Being a parent is funny and ridiculous and embarrassing and sometimes absolutely terrifying. Some days it is like being in the middle of a task that has a higher purpose but on other days it feels like carrying a huge weight and being stood halfway up and halfway down a loft ladder with your trousers around your ankles, praying that no one can see how badly you’re fucking the whole thing up.
[extract from Man vs Toddler]
Man vs Baby’s Matt Coyne is from Sheffield, South Yorkshire. In September 2015, Matt’s life was turned upside down by the arrival of his son Charlie. After three months of parenthood, he logged on to social media and wrote a viral post about his experience of having to live with ‘a furious, sleep-murdering, unstable and incontinent, breasts-obsessed midget lodger’.
Following this, Matt created Man vs Baby, which now has over 360,000 followers. And has written two Sunday Times bestselling books based on his parental triumphs and disasters, the first entitled: ‘Dummy’ and the second ‘Man vs Toddler’.
He has also written for The Guardian, The Telegraph and GQ Magazine.
Matt lives in Sheffield with his son Charlie, his partner Lyndsay and a Jack Russell terrier with ‘issues’ called Eddie.