Whoever came up with the idea of baby-led weaning: congratulations, sir, sterling plan. I can only assume it was somebody at one of the major detergent manufacturers.
In earlier days, before we allowed Mina hands-on involvement in what went into her mouth, we often had her in the same clothes for a couple of days running. No chance of that nowadays. Come bath time, she wears the day’s menu in all its multicoloured glory. The churn of the washing machine is the soundtrack to our lives.
I used to think that I ran a tight ship where the girls were concerned, but since embarking on Mina-led weaning no mealtime pass without her resembling Joseph in his dreamcoat. I don’t remember Lola being quite so fond of slathering herself in her lunch but then when she was a baby sleep deprivation had unhinged my mind so exhaustively that anything could have been going on.
Kids’ birthday parties, a good idea for a blog post, I thought. I can rattle off a rant about junior school shindigs in the time it takes Lola to eat her way through a packet of party bag Haribos. To wit, remarkably quickly.
But hold that thought, I thought. How about waiting, returning to the idea in the first or second week of September shortly after Lola’s fifth birthday party, unleashing the diatribe when the wounds are raw, the credit card bill unpaid, the post-traumatic stress still being worked through.
Yet here I am writing about birthday parties in mid-June. Which begs the question why? Neither of my kids was born in June. There should be few topics further from my mind.
Last week was half-term, so with one thing (Lola) and another (Mina), I didn’t get much writing done, hence the brief hiatus on the blog.
Half-term is great because it means that Lola is at home. This has twin benefits, namely (1) Mina and I get to spend more time with her than when she is at school and (2) I have a second pair of eyes and ears to ensure that Mina doesn’t ingest any Lego (oddly, the second born always goes for the foodstuffs when she attempts to consume Lola’s Lego – the pretzels and the strawberries are particular favourites; it’s as if she knows).
What I don’t get much of is time alone with Lola. During term time when she is off getting an education and Mrs Burge is at work, Mina and I are a veritable crime-fighting duo, never separated, keeping the streets of Ealing safe. However, it’s rare that just Lola and I get to do anything together.
Over the past fortnight I’ve received a couple of comments about my endeavours to expedite ten month old Mina’s development. Last week I wrote about how she has just learned to crawl, an activity that my little red-headed princess has been working to perfect for some time. Walking is next on the checklist.
I don’t deny that I have a propensity to egg Mina on. Helping her become more mobile hasn’t made my life any easier but I’ve gradually developed a low level addiction to the sense of achievement that comes with every new trick she learns. I now understand how Mr Miyagi was getting his kicks.
It was this enthusiasm to get Mina racing through the milestones that saw me accused of being a Tiger Dad. I don’t like this term though; it doesn’t quite do me justice. I’m not the male equivalent of those Chinese mums whose approach to raising children involves dispensing with the carrot and replacing the stick with a riot baton.
Two weeks ago today, I witnessed something that fully justified my decision to take time off work to look after my daughters.
I now have the perfect answer to every question I’ll ever get asked about why I deemed it appropriate to step out of the office to become a stay-at-home father.
That moment was a tangible flag in the ground that I can look back on in weeks and months and years to come and say, that’s why I did it. These few seconds were emblematic of why I wanted to care for the girls and what I hoped to get from it.
Due to the sudden closure of The New Day newspaper by Trinity Mirror last week, my contribution to their ’11 DAYS IN THE LIFE OF’ column was cut short by a single article.
Had the newspaper survived, this is the article that would have appeared in today’s edition to complete the series.
There’s a tension at play for the modern stay-at-home dad. While it’s definitely becoming more common for fathers to look after their kids, society still views men as the ones who bring home the bacon rather than the ones who cook it with eggs for breakfast before the school run.
These are the five articles about my experiences as a stay-at-home dad that appeared in the ’11 DAYS IN THE LIFE OF’ column in Trinity Mirror’s The New Day newspaper.
The first five articles in the series are available here and the final article that didn’t make it into print due to the newspaper’s untimely demise is available for the first time here.
Although these all appeared on my Instagram account, the text I have included below the images is the original text that I submitted to the newspaper and thanks to the sub-editing process there are some slight differences between this and what ended up in print.