As a child, you’re taught to avoid strange men in parks, says dad-of-one Joel Defries. “But once you have a child you BECOME that weirdo in the park. You can’t get enough of mindless chats with strangers by the swings.” Joel Defries on the realities of fatherhood…
If you’re thinking about having a child or you’re in the early throws of actually having that child, then you’re probably receptive to idiots like me giving you their five-cents of rubbish. So, on cue, here I sit.
1. Shame. You will love to chatting to strangers
You’ve most likely spent your life avoiding awkward conversations with weirdos in parks. It was probably the first thing you were taught as a child. “Don’t talk to strange men in parks”. Well, once you have a child you BECOME that weirdo in the park. You can’t get enough of mindless chats with strangers by the swings. You’re gagging for it. You put your child in the swing praying someone will pop up in the empty swing next to you and ask you the question “how old is yours?” Boom. You’re in! Off you go on your three-minute monologue you’ve inadvertently been working on for the last year. “Oh mine? A year, going on… 40. HAHA! HAHAHA. Please don’t leave. I just want to talk to you about myself.” You go home satisfied, itching to return to the same park in an hour’s time to find your next victim. Your poor child is constantly suffering from motion sickness. But who cares, you have made friends with people whose names you don’t know.
2. Man vs. Socks
You’ve heard it all before, I’m sure. You have baby, baby doesn’t move. You pray baby moves just to punctuate the mornings/afternoons/evenings. Baby then moves all the time and you pray that it would just stay the fuck still so you can check your phone without them risking their lives in a plug socket or swallowing a coin. However, even in their most sedentary-like still state, one thing they learn from the moment they exit the womb is THAT THEY HATE SOCKS ON THEIR FEET.
Quite frankly, the mind boggles. My baby didn’t move for months. Wouldn’t even crack a smile or bother to hold his head up. He would just sit there like a bemused drunk. So, how on earth are his socks on the floor? You cautiously look around the room to see if someone else did it. You put the socks back on. A minute later they’re off again. They haven’t moved. They’re staring blankly into the abyss, their socks sitting idly next to them. This is the beginning. From here on in you spend all the hours trying to put socks on their small annoying ice-cold hoofs. You put them on. They take them off. You put them back on under their trousers, making it practically impossible to … nope, they’re off again. You continue this charade until they go to university. You never look at socks the same way. Instead, you wish you lived on a sandy beach.
3. Going to the pub with your baby is not a thing
You’ve seen those families at the pub who are having the best time ever. The mother is radiant, breastfeeding and drinking wine at the same time. The father is tanned and having loads of fun with the older child. They have a ton of attractive young friends all smiling and being helpful. Everyone looks rested. You say to yourself: “I can’t wait for some of that”.
Well, forget it. Because the reality will be this:
You go to the pub. Your friends are useless, because what friend actually wants to help you with your child? You’re arguing with your partner because your baby is crying like a lunatic. You order a pint, pretend to have fun and socialise, one ear blocking out the wailing coming from the corner of the pub. Your partner is also pretending to talk to someone but all they’re doing is panicking and thinking how best to escape. You’re about to order your second pint when you’re forced to leave. You’ve had a terrible time. You’ve been there for twenty minutes and it took an hour to get there. You get home and the baby is still crying and doesn’t sleep the whole night. You never go to the pub again.
4.Friends/other babies don’t make you feel better
My aim was to get a crew/squad of friends with kids; we would be empathetic to each other’s needs and be able to cancel plans at a moment’s notice – guilt-free. However, the reality is that other people’s babies are just tools to carry out secret milestone tests in your head, thus turning you into a neurotic insufferable fool. Other babies make you realise your baby isn’t the genius you thought, because it can’t put a lid on a box. Your baby assaults other people’s babies – “sorry, did your baby just slap Arabella in the face with a very heavy book?” Oh God. My child has a predisposed violent condition. Other people’s babies punch your baby in the face with heavy books. “Oh God. My child has a predisposed wimp gene”. Other babies speak, walk, crawl, jump, read, have hair, teeth, jobs, volunteer, give to charity, are cute, sleep 18-hours a day are quiet etc etc. All the while, your baby isn’t doing any of that stuff, so you become panicked and go on the internet and search stuff like “what should an eight-month-old baby be doing”.
5. You should never make another plan ever again
Look at your diary. Now cancel everything. NEVER THE LEAVE THE HOUSE. End.