Fatherhood²: 12 Lessons I’ve Learnt From Being a Dad

June 14, 2011 at 8:24 pm

Robert is 3 today

Three years ago this morning, I became a father. At 01.37am on June the 14th 2008, my life changed in a pretty big way – and in a few weeks time, it’ll all be turned upside down all over again.

But don’t worry though, I’m not going to get all weepy on you – a birthday is no time for poignancy after all. Instead, I thought it would be a good opportunity to impart a little wisdom – if you can call it that – about some of the things I’ve learnt in my short time as a father…

These are in no particular order….

1. Cbeebies is worth the license fee alone. Whether it’s the brilliance of Charlie and Lola, the educational genius of The Octonauts, the chuggers of Chuggington or just the good old Birthday Time, Cbeebies has provided us with hours of peace and quiet, often just when you need it most. Thank you, BBC!

2. Make the most of it while you’ve got it. As I sit here and write this, I’ve been up and down to Robert’s room twice to sort of various complaints he’s had – first he was “too hot”, then he didn’t like the pull-up nappy he had on. It was only very recently that he figured out the baby monitor meant he could attract our attention once he’d gone to bed – oh for the days when “Night, night!” meant a quiet evening downstairs.

The same advice goes for not being able to crawl (make the most of not having to lock up your ornaments), nappies (they might seem like a pain, but potty training is grosser!) and any number of other things.

3. LEGO is just as good as you remember it. The sooner you can start buying your child LEGO, the sooner you get to “help them” with it – cue many happy hours pawing-through instructions and making up new models after the little’un has gone to bed – all under the cover of a toy for your child. Brilliant!

4. Parties at your house are a nightmare. Having been to all kinds of kids parties in the last 3 years – ones at soft play, ones in gardens, ones in nature parks – I can tell you with some experience that whilst having a kids party at your house might SOUND like an easier option, it will wear you out good and proper. Do yourself a favour – book a room in a sports centre or soft play centre. Let THEM do the tidying-up after…

5. You’ll never get sympathy from a pregnant lady. As my wife so eloquently told me this morning, as I explained the acid-reflux pain I was experiencing, “Unless your arm’s falling off, you’ll never get sympathy from a pregnant lady”. I’ll spare you the details of the long and painful list of ailments she threw back at me to illustrate her point…

6. Giving birth is going to surprise you. No matter how many books you read, how many anti-natal classes you attend, the process of giving birth will throw you completely off-guard. Put yourself in the hands of the professionals and belt-up – it’s going to be a bumpy ride…

7. Most other people’s children will annoy you. Whenever you come in to contact with the children of strangers, it’s almost a certainty that you’ll find yourself thinking “Crikey, they’ll let anyone become a parent these days!” From what I can tell, this is a fairly natural reaction – something to do with hunter gathering or some such. Either way, it’s something most of us experience, so don’t beat yourself up over it!

8. School sneaks up on you. If you’re anything like me (and my wife is not, in this instance) you might assume that you don’t need to start thinking about schools for your child until they’re just about to start. Turns out I was a little bit niaive about this – seems that you need to start figuring out what school you want your child to go to before they’re even born – where you live is crucial to what schools your child can go to, so if you live in a crappy area like we do, you’ll need to get your thinking caps on…

9. Some books for children are literary masterpieces. Don’t get me wrong, some of them are utter tripe, but books like “The Snail and the Whale” and “A Squash and a Squeeze” have lessons in that we could ALL learn from. Some of them should be on the “required reading” lists in anti-natal classes. Find some good ones – you won’t regret it!

10. Children love repetition. This can be a brilliant thing – just watch most children’s TV shows and you’ll quickly realise that repetition is a key component in their methodology. It can also be quite a bad thing – like this afternoon, when Robert was telling some of the marbles on his marble run that they were “Morons” for going in the wrong direction. I’ve got no idea where he got that one from… ahem.

11. Children’s shoes are expensive. VERY expensive. Just like gadgets and computers, the smaller the shoe, the more expensive they seem to be. We recently bought Robert 3 pairs of shoes, only to find just over a month later that he’d grown another shoe size and we had to buy 2 more. One of the pairs never even came out of the box! With my luck, child number 2 will have different shaped feet and we won’t even be able to use them as hand-me-downs…!

12. Some dads are loud and proud, others aren’t. Since I’ve been blogging about fatherhood, I’ve had lots of other lovely dads interacting with me. Some of them have even been kind enough to write me guest posts – and they’ve often surprised me just at the mention of being a dad. I wouldn’t have even realised they were parents until then. Some dads (like me) will happily talk about being a dad to anyone that will listen. Some like to keep it to themselves. I guess it takes all sorts to make the world go round – though as a proud parent I don’t think I could imagine a situation where I wouldn’t want to wear my “Dad” badge as a badge of honour!

So there we have it – a small selection of the lessons I’ve learnt in these past three years. I’m sure there are MANY more that are yet to come…