Saturday, 12 December 2009

Shoot for the stars

I haven't been posting lately, mainly because the bond between father and son is too beautiful to write about. Our magical family moments are like shooting stars, so dazzling and yet so brief; who am I to drag them back to earth?

Ok ok, I'm just really lazy. Happy now?

Luca's been very busy though, learning, amongst other things, to style his own hair:

He's also been working on a range of new and slightly demented facial expressions, the favourite being the 'laugh-cry', a Mona Lisa-inspired tilt for when he can't decide if he's happy or sad.

And eating. Oh the eating. Any adult who's ever sat through a crap meal must be jealous of the way he can subtly express his displeasure by spitting the offending dish into his hand and rubbing it into his own eyes.

Most of the time he loves food. When he doesn't, we nurture him through mealtimes with the sheer force of our goodness. Either that or just stick the laptop on and stuff food into his mouth before he has time to think about it.

Don't judge us. 'Pingu Goes Snowboarding' is actually very educational.

Having a quick check around my favourite baby blogs, I am amazed and a bit ashamed to note that Mum's yoga and baby buddy Emily is still posting on The Shock of the Two almost daily. Despite have twice as many babies and even more chaotic mealtimes. Some bloggers are just dedicated.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

The silver lining

There's only so many times I can complain about not sleeping. There's only so many depths of hallucinatory, rage-inducing, reality-altering sleeplessness a man can plumb.

It's making us fairly fraught and I see no good reason why you fine people who read this blog should have to put up with it, neither of you.

So put the misery to one side and join me instead on a whistle-stop journey around the things that ARE still brilliant about having a baby son.

Last Sunday we sent mum packing to a well-deserved day of pampering at The Sanctuary in Covent Garden. She came back looking good, smelling fine, and with a aura of calm that lasted at least till Luca's 18th unscheduled wake-up in the early hours of the next morning.

I hung out with the boy, visited friends, took him to the shops, and generally swelled with pride. My only issue was the many people we passed who failed to coo over him, or even acknowledge him. Simpletons.

Yesterday I got back from work in time for bathtime. I jumped in the bath with Luca, splashed around and we generally had each other in stitches. I play a game with him called, for want of a better word, bumsplash. (I realise that this is the only time in my life where it will not be very weird to say things like that.) He stands on my belly, and then then gets quickly and vigourously dipped in the water, bum-first. He usually takes a moment to look puzzled before bursting into rapturus giggles. And he NEVER gets bored of it.

Finally, food. What he lacks in sleep, he makes up for with a gloriously indiscriminate attitude to everything we put in front of him. And the sight of him gurgling a mouthful of blended vegetables while simultaneously trying to suck his thumb, grab for the next spoonful and bury his face in the bowl is enough to reduce the hardest heart to mush. Long may it continue.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Luca battles the bomb

So Barack Obama has won the Nobel Peace Prize. What on God's green earth has this go to do with my blog, you ask? Because Luca is clearly going to win the Nobel himself one day. We've already cleared a space in the cabinet, alongside one for an Oscar, the Booker prize, the World Cup and Robert Mugabe's formaldehyde-preserved head on a stick. If you've yet to notice the obvious all-conquering genius of my son, then here it is. It's in the eyes, see?

As this blog is about being a new daddy without a clue, I'm going to venture into another area that I'm even less qualified to comment on: nuclear war. It's really not as bad as everyone thinks.

Just kidding. Nuclear weapons are evil in a pretty straightforward way. They kill people on the grandest possible scale. They were despised and feared, Frankenstein-style, by the very man who invented them.

Unless you were unlucky enough to
live in Japan towards the end of the Second World War, then they have never been a particularly immediate threat.

But if a shadow has loomed over my generation and the one before, then nuclear bombs are it.

It brings me back to a familiar theme of vague, pantomime-like threats of my pre-daddy life that I could never seem to feel
that worried about. And I don't want to be a sanctimonious old bore but these things are more important now the boy's here. Ban the bomb, make the world a better place for the kids, man.

Could he grow up without the bomb, or even with things heading gradually towards disarmament instead of proliferation?

Maybe. The last few weeks have seen unprecedented moves, led by Obama
shelving plans for a missile-defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic, getting rid of a major source of bitterness between Russia and the US - hence the Nobel Prize thing.

And others have followed, probably just to bask in Obama's reflected glory, but followed all the same.

Gordon Brown has promised to keep less nuclear submarines, and even the Russians are smoking the proverbial peace pipe.

This isn't any old news. This is big important people making seemingly genuine attempts to make the world a better place. Bring it on.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

How we learned to stop worrying and love the madness

Luca is eating! Actual food! Thanks to our meticulous planning he is now on a regular diet of breast milk, formula milk, baby rice, gooey baby fruit stuff, and the odd finger-dab of ice cream, yoghurt, strawberry or whatever else we happen to be eating. Sod the routine, sod the gradual introductions to new food, time to get messy.

Being used to bottles and breasts that keep on giving, he's struggled with the concept of solid food from a spoon. Specifically, the three seconds in between mouthfuls, when he demands to know why the hell the last spoonful wasn't immediately followed by another.

But I'm happy to say that he takes after his dad in eating anything and everything we put in front of him.

This is the way it's going. We're not ignoring the advice of books, health visitors, and breastfeeding counsellors, we're just mixing it up a little. Our latest theory, which will change at least eight times in the next 24 hours, is that instinct should win out over routine.

People are chaotic, tiny people even more so. He is nowhere near learning how to sleep through the night. But instead of listening to him cry at 4am in a vain effort to 'teach' him, we just feed him every time he seems to want it. Everyone sleeps more, everyone's happier, and Gina Ford can kiss my hairy white ass.

We are also the proud new owners of a Tiny Love Symphony in Motion Mobile. Apparently it might help him get to sleep on his own. He might yet learn to love it, but he might not.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

The gates of hell

Finally, it comes - bloodshot eyes, apocalyptic rage over trivial matters, crying that pierces the cavities of our brains, 15-minute stretches of screaming that feel like hours and carry us to the brink of insanity.

Come in sleepless nights, we've been expecting you.

I've had 12 hours sleep in the past week and I have literally felt the flames of hell on my toes. Fuck off sub editors, I DO mean literally.

Luca has cried his way through the nights and made us question everything we thought we were doing right. The bath-massage-feed-bed routine is laughing at us. The other night he screamed through every step of it. Then screamed at what seemed like three-minute intervals for the entire night.

What's worst, impossibly, is when he IS sleeping. When he's calm for half a priceless hour, and my mind is telling me, pleading with me, that now is the time to sleep.

In case you've never heard it, it's almost impossible to sleep to the din of your own mind's impassioned reasoning. 'Sleep now man, sleep while you have the chance. Sleep now or never again!'

Then, before I know it, it's 5.34am, Luca's at it again, and the prospect of getting up for work in two hours looms like a slow dance with Satan himself.

Yes, I was warned. Yes, we've had it pretty easy up till now. And if you want to say you told me so, then I'll agree and shake you by the hand. Except my hand will be like Freddy Krueger's, and I'll shake you by the neck instead. Sorry, I'm just having nightmares. Or am I? I don't even know any more. Night night.

PS. Parents, psychics and anyone at all with an opinion, if you want to offer any life-saving advice on how to make the boy sleep, please use the comments box, we need you!

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Fun in the sun

Some might call my son a show-off. I say if you've got it, flaunt it.

Like so much, holidays with the little one take some getting used to; different, but brilliant. Gone are the marathon drinking sessions and forging of deep, meaningful, one-night friendships on the miraculous premise of meeting someone else from London. Gone are the lie-ins and five-hour reading/napping/tanning sessions on the beach.

In come early starts, wide-eyed wonder, meticulous planning and religious application of baby suncream.

Luca was a joy, smiling, squealing, into everything, and taking the odd siesta.

The evenings were mixed. One was spent eating dinner on the floor of our en-suite bathroom, trying to keep the room quiet and dark enough for him to sleep in. It didn't work. So the next night we put him in his pram and painted the town red with him in tow. And by painting the town red, I mean gulped down pasta and downed wine before traipsing gratefully back to the hotel. He slept right through.

So, to summarise, babies will not sleep in a peaceful darkened room, but they will sleep in a noisy sea-front restaurant with the buzz of Vespa motors drilling into their tiny dreams. You've got to admire nature's fine-tuned sense of irony.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Life's a lido

Tucked into a quiet corner of Tooting Common is a beautiful, sprawling mass of life and Britishness; dads reading sports pages, mums reading fashion pages, babies sleeeping, kids screaming, teenagers checking each other out, grown-ups checking out teenagers they probably shouldn't be, dropped ice creams melting into cartons of chips, cans of Stella snuck past lackadaisical security guards. It's all there.

A family flies past, leaping one by one off the side of the pool, each striking a diffferent pose in mid-air before crashing into the water; slim kids diving, fat kids bellyflopping, Luca taking in the scene with cool indifference.
On the way there I explained to Mum why the country was so gripped by a fear of England not winning the Ashes, despite being in a position where it is almost impossible to lose. I know precious little about cricket, but I don't want to miss anything, so I kept checking the score on my phone. Mum was unmoved.

We found a spot next to another young family. They looked cool. We remembered when we might have conceivably looked cool, then we noticed a pram behind them, from which they eventually pulled a screaming one-year-old. Excellent.

In between increasingly frantic attempts to calm the angry baby, he was explaining to his wife that Australia needed to score more runs than any team ever has in a second innings.

"So how can England lose?" she asks tiredly.

"It's England. They always find a way to lose."

A few hours later another dad, flanked by rampaging toddler and weirdly thoughtful eight-year-old, is staring dreamily at his phone and explaining to his family that England really have won the Ashes. They don't care.

On the way home I go to the shop to get the Guardian and milk. There's two people ahead of me in the queue, and they are both buying the Guardian and milk.

When I was younger, I fancied I was bit different from the rest, a bit special, that life should and could have more glory in store for me than most. Years later, with my new family in a sun-soaked lido, I realise that we're essentially all the same.