Just a quick disclaimer: this is not, as the title may lead you to believe, a post about flatulence. It is a post about lots of things, but, alas, bottom burps is not one of them (although they are mentioned because poop humour is always funny).
The first year of parenting has been such a dreamy time for us. We’ve been floating around in a little bubble of our own making, just us dads and our pumpkin, blissfully ignoring the rapidly unravelling world outside. No day job, no responsibilities other than keeping myself and my child alive and happy.
It’s like floating down a warm, lazy lagoon in a little dinghy together. So peaceful and serene – except for the moments when it gets a bit choppy, like when your child is having a bit of a meltdown or does a ginormous dump in his nappy minutes before you’re due to leave the house. You’re equipped with an oar so you can wade around all those jagged parenting rocks, but apart from that… it’s bliss. You’ve got time, time, endless time…
And then, just like that, the time runs out and the world comes a-knocking. It’s racing towards you with a really sharp needle, ready to burst that bubble you blew all those months ago. Get your arses out here. It’s time for you and your child to reintegrate into society. Get some clothes on and put those pyjamas in the laundry bin; you’ve been wearing them for nine days straight, you absolute minger. And for goodness sake, haven’t you ever heard of conditioner?!
But I don’t want to, I cry. I’ve enjoyed not doing my hair and not shaving for ages and not showering for ridiculously long periods of time (lol joke, I do still shower… occasionally – but it’s 2020 and nobody is going close to one another, so I shall forgive you if you are spending some time getting to know your own bodily musk). I’ve enjoyed having cuddles on command and reading storybooks and singing songs and going for walks and not really knowing what day of the week it is.
Cry me a river, says the world (I imagine her to be some sort of Kim Woodburn figure, giving me a stern look over her spectacles and brandishing her feather duster at me like a weapon of mass destruction). C’mon, get up. It’s time for the little one to start nursery.
Nursery? Did the world just say… nursery?! Cue that horrible sicky feeling like lots of worms sliding about in your belly. I’m not ready for nursery to start!
No, says the world, but your child is.
And that, my friends, is one of the most anxiety-inducing realisations you can probably have as a parent. In the weeks leading up to our little one starting his nursery taster sessions, ready to build his confidence before I go back to work, I’ve had anxiety diaorrhea. I don’t mean I’ve had diaorrhea caused by anxiety… I mean I’ve had a profuse amount of anxiety cooped up inside of me just waiting to burst forth and-
Alright, alright, that worked a lot better in my head, okay?
The long and short of it is that I wasn’t ready. What if he broke his heart on his first day? What if he broke his heart every day? What if the other kids were mean to him – or he to them? What if, a few days in, I received a phone call from the nursery staff to say that our child is singlehandedly responsible for burning down the whole school building, and it’s recommended that he find some other educational establishment to attend?
I know it sounds like I’m being a tad dramatic with that last one, but you haven’t met our child. He has a fascination with pyrotechnics and practically tried to eat a jumbo sparkler on bonfire night the other day like it was a nice mango Solero. He could have a bright (har-har, fire pun) future as a circus performer.
Or what if, weighing down the other side of this dizzying anxiety see-saw, he ran off without a second glance, his eyes as dry as a bowl of Weetabix without a drop of milk? What if it turns out he didn’t need us all along and now he finally feels free, released from the parental shackles that his two dads have woven around him?
So, yeah. These are the thoughts that were running through my mind in the build-up to last week.
But then Monday came along, and… it went fine. More than fine – it went brilliantly. He was whisked out of my arms and waved me a brisk goodbye, and that was it. I think a swift goodbye was probably for the best. I went away for an hour, my phone practically glued to my hand, and received a photo update from the nursery staff within twenty minutes that showed him drinking milk and having a look around.
The relief was unlike anything we’ve ever experienced.
When I picked him up, after what was probably the longest hour of my life, the nursery staff told me that he was an absolute pleasure, and that they’d actually all offered to babysit for us whenever we want. For all I know this is something they say to every parent to put them at ease, but it certainly worked on me!
So the week went on, and Pumpkin spent three short morning at nursery in total. Every day, I wondered if it was going to be the day that things changed, where he realised: damn, these two are serious… they’re actually gonna keep leaving me here with these people.
And every day, he surprised us. He brought his first paintings home for the fridge (they were weirdly good, so either out kid is actually an artistic child prodigy or he had some grown-up help; we’re choosing to believe the former for now), he explored, he ate lots of toast and apples… he enjoyed himself.
And it just made me realise how amazing our kid is. I know everybody thinks their kid is amazing, but hear me out: our kid came to us with a complex medical history, having not had the best start in life, and with not a very good forecast for his developmental future. We were told he might not walk, talk or see, and then we joyously watched as he learned to walk, outgrew his need to wear glasses, and now is now – god help us – starting to find his voice.
So it just goes to show that these kids, our kids who come from chaotic backgrounds – they can do anything. They are more resilient and confident than we believe them to be. They can go on to do amazing things, as long as they’re given the opportunity to thrive. They just need cheerleaders.
And believe me. His dads are the two biggest cheerleaders around. Somebody fetch me some pom-poms and teach me some choreography that my tragically unmelodic hips can handle. I truly do pray to the forest gods that I can be a composed and gracious parent at his first sports day, because the way it’s going I’m going to make a right tit out of myself and be the subject of many eye-rolls. At least his other dad will be really good in the parents’ race whilst I’m being escorted off school premises.
So, it’s been a successful first week and we’re so infinitely proud of our little one. And you know what? He may have gone readily into nursery, but the best part was picking him up, when he ran across the room and into my arms with the most delighted smile.
He’s still our little baby, and he always will be.
Until next time,