Incessant talking, rubbish playing, and getting walloped in the balls. Here are some important things every new dad should know about.
With one Age of Dad writer about to become a father for the first first time, I decided to share some of parenting’s greatest secrets and give him fair warning. Here are some things every new dad should know.
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Playgrounds and playgroups are a nightmare
They sound like fun, but they are in fact a political and social minefield. Hordes of middle class mums roam around like pram-pushing Mafioso, while the dads stand alone on the fringes, desperate to make a grown-up friend but too awkward to start a conversation.
You will never sit down for longer than 90 seconds ever again
You will try, but you will fail. Every time you sit down, someone (by which I mean one of your persistently irritating and freeloading kids) wants a glass of water or a biscuit or a DVD putting on or a game of something you can’t be bothered to play. Either that, or they’ve shat themselves.
You will get whacked in the bollocks every day
Kicked, walloped, head-butted, charged into, jumped on, or even bitten (yes bitten). All accidental, of course, but those poor chaps will take a beating. Not that it matters. Once you’ve had kids your balls are pretty much useless anyway.
Having two kids is more than twice as bad as one
When you’re being tag teamed by two of the buggers, you will know the true meaning of “really fucking tired” – mentally, emotionally, and physically harassed every minute of the day. And to think, I was angling for a third baby until a few weeks ago, when 18 months’ worth of exhaustion finally caught up with me and I found myself asking my partner if she knew where we could get our hands on a gun.
You will become a competitive dad
You didn’t think you were the sort of petty, small minded, needlessly competitive bloke, but you are, as having kids will inevitably reveal. And you’ll take a quiet but very real pleasure in beating them at everything – football, video games, running, snakes and ladders, even building LEGO (which doesn’t sound like a competition, but it totally is). Sure, let them score a few goals, but then hammer ten more past them at full pelt to show them who’s boss.
Playing with your kids is rubbish
Getting on the floor and having a good old play with some toys is one of those things you imagine as a dad-to-be – a heartwarming image of father-son bonding. But once the kids become sentient creatures, their playing demands are relentless – and mind-numbingly boring. I’ve spent the best part of three years holding an action figure while my eldest son smashes other action figures against it and makes an explosion noise. On the plus side, I can usually get away with having a much-needed lie down while he does it. I even managed about 10 seconds sleep yesterday. Either that, or my brain finally shut off.
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You will regret the things you didn’t do before having kids
I don’t mean you’ll regret not travelling the world, or meeting more people, or going out more with your mates – you’ll regret not sitting on your backside more and watching films all weekend. I’d give anything to watch a Sunday afternoon movie marathon on Channel 5 without having to wipe someone else’s arse halfway through.
Kids never shut up
I mean, they really never shut up. My eldest has been talking for about three years straight now (mostly out of his arse, as well) while my youngest – who doesn’t even know the meaning of the word “why” – has started just blurting out “Why? Why? Why? Why?” non-stop.
And the thing they say most is your name
Sounds nice, doesn’t it? It’s not. I estimate that between them, my kids say “Daddy” at least 7million times an hour, and each utterance is like another nail being hammered into my soul, piercing my will to live.
Every parent is haunted by the same fears and doubts
You may spend a significant time worrying yourself into a panic over your parenting. “Am I too quick to lose my temper? Am I nourishing their mind, body, and soul? Have I somehow mentally and emotionally scarred them for life, even though they’re only two-years-old?” It will come as genuine comfort to know you’re not alone (unless you’re in the playground, of course, and the Mafioso mums won’t be your friend). Whatever you’re feeling and worrying about, every other decent parent is feeling it too. Don’t be afraid to admit it’s bloody hard work.