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Diary of a New Dad

I have become adept at the two o'clock trundle; the fuzzy walk to N's room where I find him crying and kicking arms and legs. Pick him up, bring him to Mummy and drop back to sleep while he has his feed. Seemingly two seconds later I am woken to return him. To try to stop him kicking his way free of his blankets, I tuck them in nice and tightly. Back to sleep.

Sunday, the Day of Rest, is spent doing the Rest of the jobs that haven't got done during the week - folding nappies, gardening, phone calls and what have you. N has learned to roll over from his back, but doesn't like lying on his front and can't roll back. Have nick named him 'Beef Joint' because he needs turning every thirty minutes.


At least, after a weekend of overnight sports phone ins, the Learning Zone is back on BBC2 in the early hours, so while N is feeding we try to absorb intermediate Spanish (difficult, since 'beginners' was missed by us four months ago). Progress in Spanish is further restrained by occasional sleeping bouts - I can now ask for a table in a restaurant but order nothing, and go through customs, but can't check my flight time. Tuck his sheets in really tight to try to stop him wriggling out. By morning he is free of all blankets, happily flailing away with all four unrestrained limbs.

Working at home today, so hear Mummy and N trying to negotiate control of the cotton wool during a nappy change. David Attenborough's voice floats through my head as I imagine his description of this ritual. The phrase 'dominant male' recurs frequently.

Re-fold his bed sheets to try to give more 'tucking in' material.


N has emerged out of his blankets yet again, but this time neatly so that he is lying on top of nicely tucked in bed linen. It appears that the fabric had melted through his body. LZ is on the physics of everyday objects. I had no idea that a fridge door could be so complex.

Work today. A new student asks how my baby is. I wonder how she knows about N until she smiles and points to the saliva stain which is now a more or less constant feature of my right shoulder. Spend lunch break thinking through ways of securing cot blankets. As winter approaches I worry that N will get cold if he keeps wriggling free.

N spends most of the evening staring at the gas fire. He stares at odd things for ages. I thus occupy my time imagining his thoughts. He wonders what a gas fire could possibly be. In his short life (no, he would think of it as a long life - twelve full weeks) he has not had cause to provide extra heat. He knows all about fans, having seen a spectacular heat wave, but what could a fire be for? I spend all this time contemplating his thoughts, and then I imagine that he looks at me and wonders what I'm thinking, lost in concentration as I am. I don't suppose he knows I'm imagining his thoughts, so I suspect he thinks I'm trying to figure out the gas fire too.

Experiment with moving the cot mattress slightly to make a tighter fit and thus grip the sheets.


'Learning from the Landscape'. Saw a bit about evidence of human activity. Find more evidence of human activity on N's cot where he has once more broken free of his cotton bonds. Tonight the Baby Listener, which seems to pick up and broadcast any slight noise anywhere in the house, brought us N quite clearly shouting "Pete!". This is a refreshing change after the unsavoury gurgles and rumbles which normally punctuate our slumber, and presumably that of the neighbours too as the amplified sounds drift into the noise receptive night through our open window.

Visitors this evening. N is a hit as always, as he cutely brings back some of his milk onto Aunty's jumper. Mummy and I frantically apologise and offer cloths and sponges, but Aunty tells N that it's all OK. Strange how many conversations are now mediated through N ("Does N think naughty Daddy should clear up that mess he made?") even though his communication skills are not fully developed.

Fold the edges of the blanket double thick to wedge it hard between the cot and mattress.


Am seriously considering promoting N in show business as an escapologist, as I find him contemptuously eying the dishevelled blankets from the far end of his cot and kicking wildly at 2am awaiting a feed. LZ tonight covers optical lenses, but as I later sleep I dream of a three hour slot devoted to cot blanket child containment.

Have the afternoon free to go with Mummy to N's inoculation jabs. I volunteer to hold him as a large (massive, relative to N) needle is thrust into his leg. He screams and looks at me. In my head I think he is blaming me, will forever hate me for deceiving him and bringing him to this nasty place where he has been inflicted with deep emotional scars. This haunts me all day. In his head he stops crying after a minute and stares in fascination at an 'Exercise for the over 50s' poster on the wall, then laughs along with the practice nurse at her funny faces.

New approach at bed time. Instead of pulling the sheets back and then drawing them over him and tucking them in, I tuck everything in as tightly as I can before sliding N in. Confidently predict finding him still thus contained at next feed.


All blankets and sheets are gathered at the foot of his cot. He is at the head of it kicking away at the stuffed fabric spoon, knocking it into the cow and moon of his nursery rhyme cot mobile. Tonight's LZ concerns changes in approaches to security in prisons. They know nothing.

Take N to visit friends this evening. He sleeps in the car, as ever. Little does he know that since his arrival the car has been transformed by the fitting of sun shades, an electric fan, mirrors so that he can be seen from different seating positions, and a Wallace and Gromit cut out figure so that he doesn't have to stare at a plain grey seat cover from his rear facing car seat. Despite all this effort to stimulate and comfort him he sleeps peacefully and quietly without so much as a twitch. I am considering fitting a loud diesel engine and vibrating springs to his cot.

Take advice from a nurse friend about hospital corners, and apply it vigorously to his cot linen.


Mentally compose letter to solicitor with instructions to sue my nurse friend. No LZ again. We have to flit between profiles of pop groups and ancient feature films. When I write my book on parenting I will stress the importance of a remote controlled bedroom TV. N is now sleeping eight hours without a feed. Unfortunately this is from 7pm to 3am, then he adopts his normal two to three hour pattern. Think about adjusting house lighting to con him into thinking 11pm is 7pm and thus engineering a night's sleep for Mummy and me.

Spend today doing the usual Saturday job of sorting out his clothes from the beginning of the week that no longer fit him, and sorting out some slightly bigger ones for the coming week. Pop into a DIY store to investigate the option of rivets to hold the top blanket in place.

On the way home from the DIY store, call in to buy lots of thick, warm and fleecy children's pyjamas. Try unsuccessfully to negotiate a part exchange for a selection of cot blankets.

Andy Sutton