I noticed, my last post on fatherhood concentrated on the fact that babies are hard work. Damn hard work. But like all hard work, it does bring rewards. ‘What rewards, fool?’ I hear you ask, agog with incredulum. Well, nothing can explain the feeling of the moments when your baby first laughs when you play peek-a-boo. Or when you see the first commando-style crawling action, and from there the first stumbling steps of a baby. I can’t remember a life without my daughter, not just because the sleep deprivation has scrambled the tenuous nerve connections in my addled brain, but because, well, was I a complete person without my child?
Don’t get me wrong. Pre-baby, I had a great life. Didn’t have to plan too far ahead. If I wanted to go out, I just did, no need for rounding up the baby and extensive military-style planning just to get out of the door. I had a 9 to 5:30 job, and a long sweaty commute to get to work trying to scramble up that greasy career pole. But, what was I achieving, exactly? What was my purpose?
When a child enters your life and takes over the family home, it puts life into sharp perspective. Literally, nothing else matters. Maybe my views on this are tainted a bit, as I was brought up without a father – although I had, and still do have, lots of ‘father figures’ – and so from an early age I realised that it was important to me that my children knew who I was and what I do and what I stand for. And now that I have a child, I’ve tried to put that in practice. I’ve realised my baby depends on me for more than just putting the food on the table, like Johnny 5 from ‘Short Circuit’ babies need input. And the more input you give ’em, the better.
It is a joy watching a child learn new things, and as each day passes, you will notice the acceleration in learning, from first words, to first sentence, your baby gets better at communicating, and as that communication gets easier, so to will your life! For instance, my daughter can tell me when she needs a nappy change. The fact that she chooses not to tell me until long after the fact is neither here, nor there, she has that ability and she knows what happens during ‘nappy change’ time. She doesn’t like it much, but when I say ‘nappy change’ she knows what is about to go down. She can identify various child characters, like Noddy, Fifi, Thomas the Tank Engine, and yes, even Iggle Piggle. Why? Not just because the only time there is any peace in the house is when she gets to watch kid’s TV, but because her mum and dad taught her who these characters were.
At the moment, my daughter enjoys a good gallop around the living room on my back, and if I’m not in the correct position for her to jump on, she will let me know what she wants by pulling me onto the floor, or perhaps lying on the floor herself so that she signals to me that she wants me to do that so that she can get on. It may sound weird to you, but I wish you could bottle those moments of communication, and realisation that a young human is figuring out ways to express herself and get what she wants.
My child, although draining me of energy, money, and, occasionally, the will to live, has become the focal point of my life, and often brings me joy by taking it upon herself to trot over and plant a kiss on my cheek for no discernible reason. It doesn’t get better than that. She has become my purpose, a little needy creature who needs discipline, love, food and warmth, and some one to do the pant-swinging dance with!