All posts tagged Dummy

  • So, Charlie is two years old today.

    So Charlie is two years old today. And I can think of nothing better to post than this bit out of the book… part of a letter to Charlie explaining how he came to exist in the first place…

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    “…So, before you came along, we were happy and had a pretty good life. We didn’t really talk about having kids. Weirdly, it just didn’t come up that often and as we got older I think we both just kind of assumed that we wouldn’t have any.

    Then one morning in 2009, I got a phone call from my dad, your Grandad Gerald. He sounded kind of confused and he stumblingly explained that he wasn’t feeling too well. That morning, he’d been in church and when asked to do a reading he found himself halfway through and unable to concentrate. The words were spidering across the page and he couldn’t quite focus. Worried, we took him off to the hospital and, after a few days of tests, it turned out that he was more unwell than we thought and he had a type of cancer that had spread to his brain.

    (Note: If you’re not Charlie and you’re reading this, I know what you’re thinking: Wow, this light-hearted book on parenting just took a serious left turn. Thanks a lot Matt, two pages ago I was having fun and now I feel like putting my head in the fucking oven. Well, don’t turn on the gas just yet. Because this is the story of how Charlie came to be).

    There are times for all of us when circumstance will plunge its fist into your chest, tear out your heart and show it to you, pink and beating. And for the year that my dad had left, as a family we were hollowed out. I miss your grandad a lot, and it feels like something is out of kilter with reality that you and him will never meet. You’d have got on.

    But, in the months he had left we talked a lot about us as father and son. He apologised a lot for the mistakes he’d made as a parent. There weren’t any, but he apologised anyway. I apologised for my mistakes as a son. There were plenty but he pretended there weren’t. And, he talked about how he had come to terms with what was to come because his kids were settled and happy.

    These were strange conversations. Maybe it’s because when you’re talking to someone who is dying everything they say seems somehow profound and worth listening to.

    What these conversations did, though, was make me see parenthood slightly differently. Your grandad was still a young man at the time of his diagnosis and so had been given a pretty shitty deal. But he accepted that deal more easily because his children were happy, and I thought that a curious thing. There was no way, placed in his position, I could have so easily accepted such a raw fate, just because another human (even one that I was related to) was okay.

    I started to realise that being a parent was defined by an odd sort of selflessness. An unselfishness I just didn’t have, and that the relationship between a parent and their kid was a genuinely unique one. And, maybe, as I lost one relationship to the great nothing, the closest I would ever find to it again would be from the other side of that equation as a dad to a son or daughter.

    So, when your grandad died, this experience, these conversations and this new wisdom got scooped up with the feelings of mortality that come along with a parent dying. Your mum was close to your grandad and she felt the same sense, and all of this stuff was smashed together to make us realise that it might be quite good if you were in our lives.

    In the weeks after your grandad died, me and your mum had that conversation: The one that cemented our decision to try for a baby. And, in that moment, we felt like we had called out to the universe.. and you, our Charlie, boarded a big, fuck-off, white egg, like Superman leaving his home planet, and you would crash land into our lives at your earliest convenience.

    It didn’t work that way. The universe was an un-cooperative shithead.

    It would be four years before you landed. Four years of disappointments and defeats, false starts and sometimes brutal sadness. And, your absence began to feel like a weight belt. But your mum is determined and I’m disney-optimistic and we didn’t give up.

    Like so many parents for whom having kids is not straightforward, every time we walked into the wood-chipper of disappointment, we walked out the other side, bloodied but determined to reassemble ourselves and keep going. With no guarantees, nothing like simple certainty.

    Then you happened. Your superman egg appeared on the radar. Faint at first, but a clear blip. We wouldn’t get carried away or get our hopes up, but it was there, blipping away, and as you got closer the blipping got stronger.

    And three months after you announced that you were on your way (in the beautifully, inauspicious guise of a smiley emoticon on a piss-covered plastic stick).. we saw you on a screen, and the moment that we saw your black and white feet and a grainy middle finger, it felt like something perfect.

    And it was.

    Dad x

  • Baby Changing Rooms… of Doom.

    …used a baby-changing room today (in a branch of a well known, tax-dodging coffee shop). And it was horrific.

    Can anyone explain why they bother having these facilities, only to let the room become so filthy that a baddie from Scooby-Doo would think twice before having a shit in it?

    It is amazing how much a baby-changing room sign can mean to a parent when their infant has just detonated a level-9 in a packed shopping centre. This symbol is a beacon, a light guiding us to a place of refuge. A panic room. Baby Changing Rooms can be more than a place to change a nappy, they can be a room to retreat to and regroup. That’s the good ones.

    Unfortunately, the good ones are few and far between.. and the bad ones are a f*cking horror…
    You can normally tell, before you even open the door, by its grim handle and by the crooked sign above the entrance: “Abandon all hope ye who enter here”. And, as you open the door, there is a rumble of thunder and a dog howls plaintively in the distance.. Welcome to a cubicle of doom:

    A flickering strip-light overhead illuminates what appears to be a disused crack-house. If you are lucky there isn’t the chalk-line of a recent murder victim still visible on the stained floor. A floor that’s so sticky (with christ knows what) it sucks your shoe off as you walk in. You notice one of those “This facility was last checked by” sheets on the wall.. but its just a stone tablet hanging from an ancient cobweb. (“This facility was last checked by Pliny the Elder in 74AD”).

    And, cold, shivering and wary.. you approach the fold-down shelf thing..

    A shelf that appears to have been used by a tramp hosing off his balls. Its f*cking filthy. You wouldn’t euthanise a badger on this f*cking thing let alone change your baby. (Also, there always seems to be food crumbs in the hinges.. like you’d find in an oven door .. who the f*ck is feeding their baby on this??)
    Who hasn’t taken one look into a place like this and opted to change their baby somewhere more appropriate like the car, or a bench, or a derelict pig-shed.

    But sometimes you’re desperate. Sometimes there is no choice. And, so you place the most precious thing in your life onto a surface that has enough bacteria to wipe out France. And demand that your clueless infant not touch anything. As your baby, instead, decides that this is the appropriate time to start licking the walls and pawing everything in sight.

    The worst thing about the bad baby change rooms isn’t even the hygiene levels, or the fact that they look like Jeffrey Dahmer’s abandoned cellar. It is the fact that nothing is ever replenished. Everything is empty. The box of changing mat covers is empty, the soap dispenser just spits out dust, you are lucky to find water that’s running let alone hot.

    And, the design of these places is clearly the job of a f*cking idiot. Why is everything out of reach?? What is the point of having a big sign saying: “Don’t leave your baby on this surface unattended” if you are then going to place the soap, the bin, the sink and everything else precisely 12 inches out of arms length. The average arm span of a human is 5 feet 7 inches.. Just put everything within that f*cking range. Jesus.

    …Even, If you and your baby survive the ordeal of changing.. Then there is the nappy bin.. the throbbing, glowing, radioactive container in the corner of the room.. slowly cultivating the virus that f*cked everyone over in the film ‘Outbreak’. Obviously, the foot pedal doesn’t work so you have to use your hands to prise open the lid and close it quickly.. before the gas that is released has the same face-melting effect as opening the Ark of The Covenant had on the gestapo bloke from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

    Baby Changing Rooms are supposed to make life easier for parents and on the whole they do. It reflects well on a society that it wants to soften a new parent’s day. There is no legal obligation to provide these rooms, so businesses obviously think that they are a good way of encouraging young families, with cash to spend, to come on in.

    ..So, why go to all the trouble of creating one and then make it as welcoming as Death’s arsehole?
    Answers on a wipe-clean postcard to the Sheffield branch of a well known, tax-dodging coffee shop.

    www.facebook.com/manversusba

  • Another day, another parent-friendly coffee shop…

    – Could I have a cup of hot water please? I just want to warm the baby’s food.

    – No. We can’t let you have a cup of hot water.

    – Really, why not?

    – It’s Health and Safety.

    – mm. But I’ve just bought 2 cups of tea from here and they were the same temperature as the Earth’s core.

    – And?

    – Well, the only difference between those cups of tea and a cup of hot water is that the tea cost £2.50 and its brown.

    – Sorry, we still can’t give you a cup of hot water. It’s Health and Safety. Can I get you anything else?

    – Yes, could I get another cup of tea please?

    – Certainly, How would you like it?

    – Er. I’ll take it with no milk, no sugar, and no teabag please.

    [*Blank expression*]
    – But, …that would be a cup of hot water.

    – Now you’re catching on.

    – We can’t serve you that.

    – Why not?

    -It’s Health and Safety.

    ….And, in the distance, over on table 12, a hungry baby wept bitterly.. as it realised that it had joined the human race and it was a race full of dead-eyed twonks.

    www.facebook.com/manversusbaby

  • Tough week…

    Tough week. Charlie’s mum’s maternity leave ended. So the person in our house who prevents fires etc. returned to work.. Whilst I found myself looking after our little boy properly on my own..

    Its true to say that as Lyns walked out the door that first morning there was quite a few tears, sobbing, and protest-soiling.. but, in my defence, by lunchtime I had calmed down a bit.

    Anyway, to alleviate Lyns’ concerns about leaving Charlie in the care of a f*ckwit, I promised to keep in touch…

    www.facebook.com/manversusbaby/

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