Things I’d Like my Son to Know

Lesson 9 – Sometimes you just need “Me-Time”

After a tiring evening putting my son to bed I realised that in the past 3 months, i’ve not taken time out to go for a walk.  It was a bout 8pm and I was getting to that agitated point in my day where I felt as though I needed to expend some energy before I rest my head.

As I grabbed by jacket, keys and phone (for emergency) and exited the door and down the street, I realised I had left my prized partner at home – my wife.  For once, in a very long time, I was doing something that wanted to do, that was just about me and fresh air (as much as can be had in the suburbs of the UK) and I was actually glad for the time to myself. Continue reading

The well placed F-Bomb.

So I’m not a huge fan of foul language, (in front of children), but sometimes the little things can really annoy the sht out of you at times. One such time was a couple of nights ago when my phone decided to play silly buggers and not connect to the Wi-Fi at home. The story of what happens next will crack you up…

Its late in the evening, and I’m about to take my son for his bath.  I decide that some music is in order because, well why not, and go to get my phone from the kitchen where it was sat charging.  I had left it for about 40 minutes or so, and it had only picked up about 10% charge which was infuriating, as Sid’s bath would take at least 8% of the charge.

Anyway I realise that it is also not connected to the Wi-Fi and so I turn the Wi-Fi on on the phone, and wait.  And wait.  And wait.

By this time I’m seriously hacked off and under my breath, seeing that my son is now buzzing around me I mutter “why the fk isn’t the phone connecting to the Wi-Fi?!?!?!”. He was about a metre away from me and I immediately realised I had said those magic words a little too loudly.  He suddenly stopped what he was doing, stared me right in the eye and said “Daddy don’t say that. Don’t say fk. It’s not nice to say it. Instead say .. Hmm (looks at his book of planes) instead say helicopter.”

I was both amazed and mortified at the same time.

I wanted to swing my genius son around and at the same time cut off my tongue for using such profane language in front of my angel with horns child.

There was an itching curiosity within me as I rested that evening.

How did my son, my 2 year old, whom we never swear in front of, know that fk is such a bad swear word?  No-one told him, and certainly not me.  I wondered – did my son realise that my frustration, linked to the extremely well placed F-Bomb meant that the word I used was a naughty word?  Or has someone secretly been teaching my son things to just wind me up?

I did a very crude experiment with him the next morning.  I pretended to get really angry and shouted out “What the chin!?!?!” – and lo and behold – he stopped what he was doing (eating) and said – “Daddy – don’t say Chin.  It’s not nice”.

Could it be that children are that more sensitive to the way we say things compared to what we say?

If it is so, then it is both sentiment, emotion, AND language that has an impact on a child.

This relates quite nicely to what we hear about communication and arguments – most of the time arguments occur not be cause of what we say – but because of how we say it.

It seems like this is not a learned construct – It’s almost innate and we know what this “feeling” of negativity is, from a very young age.

If there’s anything I have learnt from this experience, that is to never underestimate 2 things.

  1. The value of a well placed F-Bomb
  2. The ability of your child at such a young age to pick up on emotion, more than the words.

Top 10 Beach Safety Tips from a Pro

We heard on the news that 5 young men tragically lost their lives out on Camber Sands Beach in Sussex, England while in the sea yesterday, 24th Aug. They appear to have caught out in a possible rip-tide which dragged them out to sea.

My thoughts and prayers are with the families who have lost their sons, siblings who have lost their brothers in this tragic accident.

Speaking on the BBC Asian Network this morning, I was joined with Aaron Dhanda who is a Community Drowning Prevention Officer with The Royal Life Saving Society UK who gave some great advice on safety when out at the beach, and in particular this applies to parents with young children.

Here are his top 10 tips for beach safety shared with daddydze.co.uk

  1. Seek advice from your travel agent when booking a holiday to ask if the beach is safe and whether trained lifeguards will be on duty
  2. Be aware that the most common time for children to have accidents on holiday is within the first hour of a holiday when parents are unpacking and distracted. Parents should take care during this time to make sure that they know where their children are
  3. When you have unpacked, visit the beach and look for yourself what the potential dangers are before going into the sea
  4. While at the beach, never let your young children out of your reach –supervision is the key to preventing serious accidents
  5. Always ask for local advice, for example from lifeguards, tourist information offices, local coastguard stations, or even local fishermen, on where and when it is not safe to stroll on the beach or enter the water
  6. Do not swim near or dive from rocks, piers, breakwater and coral
  7. Water safety signage can be very different in different countries, so find out what local warning flags and signs mean – and adhere to them
  8. Inflatable dinghies or lilos are a well-known hazard – there have been drownings as people on inflatables are blown out to sea and get into trouble. Do not use them in open water. Use them in sheltered and confined spaces, such as rock pools
  9. If you get stuck in quicksand or mud do not stand up. Lie down, spread your weight, shout for help and move slowly in a breaststroke action towards the shore
  10. If you witness an emergency, whether it is in the UK or overseas, know how to call for help

This is not an exhaustive list – but with all things, be sensible, know the risks and precautions, and be safe.

Case #3 heart vs mind – to have a second child?

Last night in told my wife how lucky we are that Sid sleeps through the night, and that we get to at least have some time to ourselves from around 7.30.
I was at that point immediately flooded with the emotional trauma and painful memories of the nights that Sid was up, through the night, and the constant battle with fatigue for about 7 months.

I was also reminded of all the graft during the days- all the food prep, the milk, dinners, house tidying, nappies, buying formula at 10pm from the co-op, eating crap takeaway at 11pm in between Sid falling asleep and then waking up again. Just so many memories.

And funnily enough, they’re all negative ones.
When did I move from loving my son, to just having bad memories and trauma from his early months?

What about the first time he said “hello”? Or the first time he grabbed my finger? Or the first time he crawled and then walked? Or the first time he said baba or muma?

Of all the beautiful memories, the ones that are more prominent in my mind are the negative ones.  And these come out, when I’m thinking about whether or not to have a second one.

On a purely selfish note, I wouldn’t want one. I think it would be an absolute game changer if we did.

But in my heart I feel that Sid needs a sibling or two. The world can be a lonely place and you always need family.

So I have this dialogue within myself about whether to have a second child, it’s primarily between my heart and my brain.

It’s triggered pretty much everytime I see a newborn, or smell baby lotion, or see sid’s baby photos (damn this ridiculous amount of hormones in my system!)

It goes like this

Heart: ahhhh isn’t that an adorable baby…? I remember how Sid was at that age so adorable and …

Brain: dude are you high?

Heart: NOOO… but Sid smelled so nice,and he was so cuddly

Brain: Stop smoking your socks dude…
Heart: Hey you know what’s a good idea?

Brain: Sleep?

Heart: No… I think I want to have another one…

Brain: High as a kite …

Heart: but don’t you think Sid needs a sibling? Someone to play with, to cuddle, to look to for friendship? What happens when we aren’t here?

Brain: hmmm

Heart: I’m telling you… We need a 4th musketeer..
Brain: you remember the movie right? Remember how much of a pain d’artanegn was to the 3 musketeer? He was an ass…!

Heart: but he made them cool…
Brain: meh!

Heart: let’s consider this… Remember how much fun we had making Sid…??
Brain:…
Heart: Dude …

Brain:…

Heart:GET YOUR HEAD TOGETHER MAN!
Brain: sorry … Good times… 😉
Heart: let’s give it some feeling … Have some hommones…!
Brain: dopamine? Serotonin?
Heart… You know I’m right … And you know I’ll win …

10 things only sleep deprived parents will feel

Sleep deprivation is torture on every level. I understand why it is used as a torture mechanism by governments. It hurts physically and mentally. 

  Being a parent is an awesome job and I wouldn’t give it up for the world. I love my son and I love how my wife has evolved into a mum, and seeing her transition into this role has been beautiful. 

I mean, she’s still my drop dead smoking hot wife, but she’s an awesome mum to our son too. 

It wasn’t all plain sailing though. 

As we chose to breast feed Sid, getting rest was one thing that was a real struggle. Sid had a huge appetite and was hungrier at night.

We didn’t plan for this, nor the effect (obscenely detrimental effect) this would have on us. 

We went through 10 months of Sid being a rough sleeper of which the first 5 he was up about 10-20 times a night. That eased off to about 8times a night and then by 8 months he was up 4 times a night. You can see where I’m going with this. 

By month 1 I looked like this. 

 
And felt 10 times worse. 

So without going into details of what we did to manage this … I thought I’d list a few things that we experienced during this time and things to warn future parents of.

  1. Slurred speech. Ever remember trying to get out a sentence in a coherent manner to your work colleagues to sound vaguely intelligent after having a glass or two of wine? Well this is the first phase of delerium. Only it doesn’t wear off. You only know shit’s got wierd when you ask your work colleague to hold you up in case you fall over a desk you didn’t know you were standing on, wearing trousers that don’t match your suit jacket. 
  2. Waking up in the middle of a conference call you started at work and wondered where everyone was, then realising you weren’t on a conference call, you’re not at work, your phone is just stuck to the side of your face. 
  3. Desi parents will always try and bring food over just to play with the baby and when you explicitly say “don’t wake the baby” you shout at them for waking the baby with their overly loud questioning at the front door “Sid asleep!!??” 
  4. Getting random bruises from walking into things that you knew perfectly well were there but on this drunken state, may as well be invisible. 
  5. Walking into the the microwave door whilst it was wide open head first forgetting that 10 seconds ago you left it open yourself 
  6. Sleeping together no longer means “getting lucky” it literally means falling asleep together. Sex is no longer on the menu. Sleep is the dish of the day. Any day. 
  7. Having one partner that is responsible for putting the baby to sleep means we’re literally ducked if that partner is away for a night. 
  8. Slapping yourself in the face just to get through drinking your first cup of coffee. After the first one you’re not so bad. 
  9. Regretting not using protection. Having suffered with sleep deprivation for months it was always a niggle in the back of my mind. What if?  I would be sound asleep and happy. Instead, I have the antichrist as a child at night. 
  10. You’ve used shaving gel for toothpaste. Only happens 4 or 5 times 
  11. You fall asleep taking a number 2 which started as a number 1 only it moved in that direction. 
  12. Stubbing your toes on anything while picking up/putting the baby to sleep and then cursing the baby. 
  13. Getting to 13 points in this list and while forgetting that you only wanted 10

Yes people sleep deprivation from having kids is real and it will f you up hard. But honestly it is worth it. 

After the first 12 months, unless you decide to have another one. Then you only have yourself to blame. 

4 Tips for prenatal bonding for dads- how to get involved after your work is done

So you’re pregnant!! 

Well, not you per se, but you other half is. 

     
 And as dads, we get considered the accessory to all of this. The number of times I got ignored and pushed aside while people flocked to Wifey to say “wow aren’t you blossoming?” Was met with a number of stern looks from me and my casual response of “well I actually did most of the hard work but whatever” (rolling eyes emoticon). I had another 9 months of this. 

Now for the next 9 months you may be wondering what to do when you’re not building the nursery, or panicking if you’re going to be a good dad, or dealing with the surge of emotions (hers) and so on. 

But for me (like other dads) this was an incredible journey. 

I was able to witness the creation of life and the development of my unborn child in all its glory. Without having to actually have the morning sickness, or the mood swings, or the swollen ankles.

  We tracked the development of Sid using an app called babybump, and it was great. Week by week I took photos of Sang and tracked her development up till his arrival. 

This is about as much as most guys I’ve spoken to get involved. For me,this wasn’t enough. I often think that mums to be get the opportunity to develop a unique bond with their child, way before it pops out. They get to feel the baby and talk to the baby, they share a heart beat, and other bodily fluids. 

But dads, it feels like we kind of sit there twiddling our thumbs before we can connect to the baby, which happens after its out in this world, and at this time you’re fighting off all other relatives to get time with him…

Me, well my family say that I’ve been broody since the age of 19 (probably true) and so this journey was one waited for patiently and I wanted to get connected to Sid as soon as possible.

I thought I’d list a few things that I would do, every evening, to connect with Sang and the growing baby, to develop a bond as a prenatal family. 

These things kept me close to her, and I feel gave me a great connection to Sid before he arrived in June ’14. 

  1. Listen to the bump. Every evening I would stick my ear to Sangs abdomen to try and hear the baby swishing around. More often than not, especially for the first few months, I just got Sangs sloshing tummy thanks to her hyperemesis (a whole other blog). But as the foetus developed, i would get the occasional punch or kick from Sid- probably won’t to my weighty head resting on him too much. 
  2. Talk to the bump, really close up. Sid was a great listener. I did at times feel a little stupid talking to him, but being able to tell him about the outside world, how beautiful his mummy is, and let him hear another voice was a great feeling. For me it was a connection to him that I developed over time and I think it explains why he doesn’t bother listening to me now! 
  3. Mozart for babies. We found a great piece of music, about 2 hours long written by Mozart, on YouTube. It was a sleep remedy for me and sang and also something for Sid to hear over my snoring. Apparently Classical music is great for a foetus’ development. 
  4. Importantly – and this is especially useful for the mum- massage cream onto the bump every night and every morning. We used a Sanctuary Spa cream developed for mums in the evening which was loaded with collagen, and a tummy oil by the same people in the morning and after showers etc. I get a lot of praise from Wifey for doing that – not a single stretch mark from the pregnancy. Aside from the obvious benefit, massaging is a sure fire way to build a bond with mum and baby. Lots of kisses and hugs kept the love flowing. 

    So this was one part of my journey with Sang and Sid. It was a journey worthwhile. 

10 Things to do when visiting a dad of a newborn

When my son was born we had the dread and fear as new parents, of visitors and hygiene and our care for our precious new arrival. 

We knew that we’d have family/friends wanting to come over before we even step out of the hospital, and Indians are typically fast when it comes to seeing a newborn. 

It’s as if we’re gonna get real offended if you wait to see us. 

Honestly we’re not!

Now I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that I was the more neurotic parent and I was really sensitive when people came round. I wanted them to enjoy their time with my son, as well as try to give as much protection to him as I could. 

You’re probably thinking “but kids need to have some exposure to germs in order to build up their immune system”- WRONG. 

A newborn doesn’t need that shit from the day they’re born.

They need a clean safe environment to stop them from developing complications such as meningitis, viral infections that cause problems later in life, or in my sons case- sepsis which he developed at 2 weeks old.  I’m not saying that visitor cleanliness was the cause, I’m convinced it was during delivery but let’s highlight the point shall we. 
And you’ll always get the older parents (and their kids who don’t have children of their own) saying stuff like- “well you forget that our parents had kids too” – AGAIN WRONG! 

Our parents had us 30+years ago. We’ve had numerous advances in research that give us the newest advice to help bring kids up in the environment we live in today.  An environment away from thalidomide for example. 

So now to the things that all parents of newborns dread. I have my personal list, and it’s made worse by the fact that desi’s are exceptionally difficult to “control” let’s say.  (you know who you are) 

Just as guidance – if in doubt – ask the parent!

  1. Stay for an hour – TOPS! Unless you’re cooking dinner or doing the dishes/laundry, or my project plan for work. 
  2. Wash your hands- and don’t pretend like we didn’t see you pick your nose, we know your gonna want to try and touch my sons face with those fingers. 
  3. Don’t – EVER kiss my child on his lips. Period. That is reserved for parental love ONLY. cheeks, head hand yes. 
  4. Ease off the aftershave/perfume. I don’t want my son smelling like he was out clubbing all night. 
  5. Shoes off at the door please. My son will crawl on the floor and pick up anything you bring in. 
  6. If you’re even marginally ill, come another time. We’ll love you a lot more if you do. 
  7. If you post a pic on Facebook of my child before I do, I will break your camera. 
  8. Use a muslin when requested. Or even if not requested. 
  9. Remember – the parent is ALWAYS right. Don’t second guess, over-rule or say things like “you’ll get it soon”. 
  10. Finally – I will and did look fubar’d. I don’t need reminding that “you look tired”. Great observation- now get me a coffee. 

Thanks for your understanding. 

Sincerely,
All parents of newborns.