Day 1 survived, and Dad didn’t do too badly either…!


Our household has raised the Plague Flag in recent weeks, meaning poor No.2 hasn’t had a great finish to her time with Mummy being at home. She’s on chickenpox alert, as big bro picked up chickenpox from nursery about a fortnight ago. He got off unbelievably lightly, as you could count his spots on your fingers, and with only one actually breaking the skin. While she has been really ill, it’s only been a terrible case of manful that nearly killed me (but had minimal effect on Mummy…), meaning we’re in partial quarantine while we wait for the spots or a serious sense of disappointment if she doesn’t get it… This has of course destroyed her and Mummy’s sleep, just in time for Mummy to go back to work. 

And then we got an email from the nursery saying there’s a confirmed case of Scarlet Fever – it’s part Hornblower and part Dickens at the moment.

This had unfortunate knock-ons to our social lives, with grandparents being waved off, and No.2 (and Mummy) having to stay behind while Junior (who is now all-clear) and I went to party at a wedding, and for him to spend some quality time with said grandparents. He had a whale of a time, with limited numbers of children meaning he was able to spend some quality time running round like a lunatic with the equally game 2 yo flower girl – I think the wedding photographer took as many shots of them as he did the bride and groom.

In terms of the first day, it went better than last time, mostly because I knew to expect the lack of napping and the crying. An unfortunate effect of the illness appears to be a loss of appetite (I had this too), which means she found it pretty tough going, especially as we hadn’t been able to practice with milk from a bottle/beaker. Bizarrely the most successful method of ingesting formula (we’re going straight to it this time, no faffing with expressing in work for Mummy) was to drink straight out of the beaker with no lid. However as she only had about 30 ml across the day, that’s still not exactly a great flow rate! However Mummy reminded me that Junior was very slow to start, until he turned into the industrial vacuum pump he remains.

Hopefully tomorrow we’ll be a bit more adventurous, although that will depend on Daddy correctly reading the nap signs, and No.2 following through on those threats and actually having one before 3pm.

I should note that I do have a whole load of blogs in my head about the last few weeks, but between doing things, illness and the time that just somehow disappears when looking after 2 kids haven’t quite go round to writing. I promise to write them before I finish my leave…

The Week That Went – but no Yogurt Test pass

Another week flies by, and one without a blog – my literally dozen of readers are protesting – and Junior is passing developmental milestones like crazy. This week alone he has started stacking cups, clapping and identifying different shapes (did that this morning!).

He still hasn’t passed the yogurt test however. This is one of Mum and mine’s devising to test when his problem solving and motor control skills have reached the real milestone of serious tool use.

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The Yogurt Test

Ingredients:

  • 1 small pot of yogurt or fromage frais
  • 1 baby spoon
  • 1 baby
  • Optional (but advised) – All-over neoprene bib

Present baby with opened pot and spoon. Observe results.

PASS = Baby uses spoon to extract yogurt, demonstrating ability to solve simple problem using tool.

FAIL = Junior sucking determinedly but vainly on bottom of yogurt pot, having dipped fingers in but failed to realise the increasingly damp sensation on his stomach is the yogurt he so desperately wants falling out of the top, and covering him, the all-over bib Mum wisely bought, the high chair and the kitchen floor. And if he’s really lucky Daddy too.

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Quiet pint and reflections on 2 weeks of Dad Time #dadtime

Sat in the Boathouse pub in Putney (good for a glass and gleaming steel structure, best river view not in Wetherspoons) watching the crews practising for the Head of the River races this weekend. This being about as close to actually sitting by the Thames it is possible to get anymore, something to thank modern embankment builders for, this seems like a fitting moment to reflect on the last 2 weeks. Two weeks which will stick in my memory forever, for all the best reasons, and the odd slightly less positive!

I knew that this wasn't going to be easy, and definitely not a holiday. What I hadn't fully thought through was how having to use a completely new feeding method was going to add difficulty. We're still nowhere near figured out how to get enough food into him, and this is having impacts on all of us (including Mum). I reckon it's added about 15% (time, complexity and effort) to doing things over Mum. Before I started I thought I could imagine what it was like to be at home with him full time when he was younger. But I'm dealing with Junior at a stage where he is able to amuse himself for at least some of the time. As a result my respect for the job done by Mum has gone up even higher. Amuse himself like now, where we're playing a game of fetch – he crawls off and I go fetch him when he goes too far…

So what are the big things I've learnt? Here they are:

Lesson the First – Sleep is your Friend. Junior is the non-sleeping type of baby (there appear to be the 2 sub-types. For reference, Junior typically naps for 1 1/2 to 2 hours a day). I knew this before I took over. But until this week I didn't fully understand why it was so important to get him his naps. On Tuesday Junior had only had about 45 minutes nap, in the morning. When Mum returned I'm not sure she could tell which one of us was more tired and distraught. I think it was me, because I can't just sit their and cry. Or at least not if Junior's got there first. Lesson learned the hard way.

Lesson the Second – Play is really fun! We've done a few things in the past fortnight that he hasn't done before – art (finger painting), mountaineering (climbing on cushions) and experienced different viewpoints and gravity (backpack carrier and stuck things to the floor and got him to pick them up). All ideas off the internet, obviously. He might not always be smiling, but the pleasure he has in trying new things is evident from the serious look of concentration on his face. We even had a hello wave going for a few hours!

Lesson the Third – Little boys really do miss their mummy. While he is more than happy with me, and doesn't mind when Mum heads out the door (except for a couple of days where he'd hold her leg for the preceding 5 minutes then be right as rain once she'd actually left) the smile on his face when Mum comes throught the door is defintely wider than the one I used to get….

Lesson the Fourth – Dads do stand out. It is definitely still unusual to be a dad at home and I don't think this stereotype will go away quickly. “Mother and baby” is used to describe everything. You get some friendly and….lets go with sympathetic looks mostly from older women.

Lesson the Fifth – Other dads aren't like Morris Minor drivers. I used to drive a Minor, and you would always wave at any other Minor you saw on the road because (a) it's always good to see another one and (b) you both understand it might all go wrong at any moment and need help. Barring the guys at Dads and Littluns, when walking past other a Dads, even if they're not full-time, I expected a bit more engagement. Rarely even a smile.

Lesson the Sixth – You really can't do things you want when you want. For instance I'm now trying to finish this post at home, before Mum gets home, as we didn't last long enough in the pub.

Here endeth the lessons. But not the fun – in summary its been amazing. In 2 weeks I feel like I've got to know Junior better than ever before – I better understand his moods, even if I'm still not sure what to do about them. I think I've seen him develop based on things I've taught or encouraged him to do. We've been lots of places and done stuff that some/many/most dads don't get to share with their kids.

Let's see what happens in the next 2 1/2 months!

 

Reflections on a first day’s solo flight

Well, that was alright. Not sure what Junior would say – I reckon I got good marks on the home entertainment/living climbing frame front, less good on the feeding and sleeping. And terrible on the toy provision while out. My two big lessons for the day were:

  • We both need to get better at figuring out when he's tired and when he's hungry. Mum assures me there is a difference, but I didn't get it today! This lead to a number of attempts at both napping and feeding that left him confused, me covered in food, and a fair amount of wasted milk – mostly the formula, thankfully.
  • Check the nappy bag before leaving the house! Junior had managed to extract a couple of key items (wet wipes!) and ensure there were no toys in it so when we stopped in the hostelry I was defending their menus from being throughly gummed because he had nothing else to play with. No doubt a cunning ploy to eat paper, his favourite food-group.

Tomorrow should be different again – earlyish Gymboree that will hopefully be sandwiched by some serious napping. A statement that with Junior is always accompanied by some of these…