Thursday is now officially the new Friday, in my world anyway. As Mrs B re-enters the rat race I’m dipping my toe into the subculture of the stay at home dad.
It’s only one day a week but I’m hoping spending more time with the small person will help us to get to know each other better.
Flexible working continues to be a political hot-potato as Labour announced today that should the electorate decide to give them another chance they’d double the amount of paid paternity leave from two to four weeks. Not only that but they’ll also increase paternity pay from the miserly £120 a week to £260.
This is still only the equivalent of the minimum wage so not really an option if you earn a decent amount and have a hefty mortgage or rent to pay. But I suppose it’s a grudging shuffle in the right direction.
Anyway, other people have written a lot of well-researched words about the UK’s family-friendly policies (or lack of) so I won’t try and replicate those arguments here. But this post by John Adams is worth a read.
Thankfully my employers don’t have an issue with flexible working.
And after weighing up the financial pros and cons we decided that the difference between handing Baby B over to our childminder for another day versus me giving up a day of work was negligible.
Whereas him being looked after by his dad for a day would be a good thing, provided I didn’t let him watch The Sopranos.
I wrote a while back that I was worried about whether Baby B actually knew who I was, as days could go by without me getting home before he went to sleep.
As he’s got older and his short term memory has improved I’m less concerned and recently he has actually started saying ‘dadda’ or sometimes ‘diddi’ or occasionally combining the two; ‘diddi-dadda’.
Mrs B remains miffed that he hasn’t said ‘mamma’ yet but I’ve assured her this is quite common. Perhaps it’s an evolutionary quirk to keep less committed dads interested in their off-spring but I have read that saying ‘dadda’ can mean ‘mamma’ anyway.
So on Friday I was looking forward to a day of bonding with my son. I had excellent handover notes so I was feeling confident.
After spending three days with his childminder Baby B was very clingy all morning. Every time I put him down his face crumpled so after a while I gave in and resigned myself to sitting on the sofa and looking at books.
“Dadda,” he said with conviction as we looked at a picture of some chickens.
At 9am I carried him upstairs for a nap. This lasted long enough for me to walk back downstairs and make a cup of coffee.
He stopped wailing and looked very pleased when I walked back into his bedroom and picked him up out of the cot.
“Diddidadda!” he shouted as he hurled himself at the cat, who had found a nice spot by the radiator.
We spent 20 minutes looking out of the bedroom window. The birds, the sky, some tree branches, and a man sweeping the street were all an excellent opportunity to practice the D word.
Back downstairs I put some music on so he could practice bopping in his high chair while I tried to answer the door.
We were having a new washing machine delivered. Some burly men entered the house and chuckled as Baby B tried to eat the cat’s food. I scooped him up and we both watched as the men did man things.
“Dadda” he murmured in awe as they huffed and puffed and sucked their teeth while trying to locate the standpipe or something.
I peered under the kitchen worktop to give the impression that I cared and would remember this for the next time there was a leak. Yes, there were some pipes. They fitted together.
“DADDADADDADADDA!” exclaimed my son at maximum volume.
“Good lad!” said the burly man. “Got a lively one there.”
The doorbell rang. It was the man from Ocado. The shopping entered the front door as the old washing machine left by the side return. It was all very exciting. Baby B watched in concentrated silence.
This was no time to randomly shout syllables.
“Daaaaadaaa” he said sadly, staring at his fallen chips, reaching out a tiny hand; he reminded me of Luke in The Empire Strikes Back trying to get his X Wing to rise out of the swamp.
After a VERY SHORT afternoon nap the rest of Baby B’s day passed in a whirl of climbing up and down the stairs, emptying the kitchen cupboards, chasing the cats around the living room, dancing to Ed Sheeran, getting stuck behind the sofa, and eventually some exhausted viewing of Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom.
So I was relieved when Mrs B came home early from work as everyone else had gone to the pub for a ‘long lunch’.
I handed the bundle over and went to make us both a cup of tea. Baby B looked adoringly at his mum.
“Dadda” he said happily.
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Categories: Being Dad