Your first newborn is tough to look after. And not because of the sleepless nights, feeding troubles, and poo explosions. It’s because nothing in life had ever prepared you for these things, and their constant wearing away at your normally well rested self. You’re sub-consciously wondering when your weekend will come, or if the baby has an off-switch. When will you get to sleep! When will you shower! Then you clock that it’s only been a week (felt like a month), and you’ve got the rest of the next 20 odd years to do… at least.
Fast-forward 8 months into parenting… It starts to feel like you can do this, and it’s getting pretty fun. It’s like you tasted your first pint of bitter (beer for non-Brits) 8 months ago and it was disgusting, but now it’s turning out pretty refreshing and has become your drink of choice.
A few months back I noted how amazing it was that your unresponsive little potato of a newborn becomes a practicing yoga master in such a short space of time. Well, no surprise, it gets even better. Not to say he’s easier to look after, no. He’s now more than a full-time occupation.
The little trolls have a habit of doing away with one problem and then quickly giving the poor unsuspecting first-time parent another one. When will it end! The tough stuff like battling colic and being terrified of breaking the baby goes away, but you get some new things. Little Bear now has some serious opinions. Not just that all solid food is disgusting, but he now demands that Pappa never leaves his play area, and continues to read the same book again and again, or hand him balls to bounce.
[I say ‘Pappa’ I’m now being referred to as ‘daddy’ despite our attempts at only talking Swedish… Who am I kidding, he calls everything daddy, and I’ve been called ‘baba’, ‘mummy’ and fart noise in the last hour]
Me: ‘Stop chewing on that coaster Little Bear’ – LB: ‘Stop cramping my style!’
Me: ‘No you can’t eat the DVD’ – LB: ‘What else is it good for? Oldie’
Me: ‘I’m just going to make myself a coffee’ – LB: ‘NO! Come here! Make me fly! NOW!’
Me: ‘Stop trying to get through the gate’ – LB: ‘Why are you always following me? Get a life… Looser’
I was hoping I’d get till he was a teenager before this started.
His newly discovered mobility means that the second his nappy’s off he must attempt a gymnastic vault off the changing table. Holding him back from such a plummet prompts some surprised shouts and stamping his foot on the table. The only solution is to make fart noises on his tummy as giggling is better than a vaulting. But somehow the foot is always strategically aimed at the fresh poo in the old nappy. Not that his foot is the worst of him by this point after the wriggling.
Wriggling… He wont stop. It started when we were in Sweden a few months back. Whatever soft play area we’d make for him, he’d fidget and wriggle his way straight to the hard floor on the edge (way more fun as grown-ups keep pulling him away from it). By the time we got home, his once perfect jungle gym which could keep him content on his back for what seemed like hours, became the object of destruction.
First it got a baby-rage attack, with a bear growl his strong little arms managed to tear of the toys, with dolly and robot being innocent casualties in his Incredible Hulk moment. Shortly after, he rolled out of the jungle gym, and began dragging it across the floor… Ok, so it was time to upgrade his play area.
The new play area I built took up half the living room, and has since expanded to nearly the whole living room as he scurries around hiding ball-pit balls in various places for Pappa to step on. It temporarily expanded to the dining area and the kitchen, as we watched him make a b-line for the robot-hoover, switch it on, then attack the fire-extinguisher and finally head for the stairs… A fence was erected an hour later.
He shuffles all the way over to me from the other end of the living room to bite my feet (I think this is him trying to tell me he wants to be held). After a giggle and two seconds in my arms, he then fidgets round and continues his gymnastics practice from the changing table and tries to dive head first into the coffee table, only to find himself put back on his mat and start the process over again. You’d think he’d tired of this level of activity, but he just starts giving bad attitude rather than falling asleep.
I feel like this is the toughest and most fun stage of a baby, but then I thought that about when he was newborn too, and I’m pretty sure I’ll think that when he’s trying to walk, and when he’s a toddler. Simply because it’s new, and you quickly forget about the tough stuff you went through in the past.
Head bumps, getting stuck under the coffee table, attempts to escape from his pushchair, but he’s getting all the more fun to be around. I don’t go very long without thinking, ‘crap, how did he learn how to do that!’ Wouldn’t miss this for the world.
Introducing Dad’s Turn, Raising Little Bear – Dave Freed
In my early 30s and normally working in the energy sector in London, I’m sharing parenting equally with my wife for our first kid, The Little Bear. I’m from London, but my wife is from Sweden, and we’re planning on bring up the baby in both languages. It’s now my turn to take Shared Parental Leave and look after the little guy. Little Bear is now 8 months old and growing fast.