A little while ago - about a year, to be precise - when my brother-in-law and his lovely girlfriend were expecting their first baby, my husband wrote this guide for new dads. You may have read it before, if you were one of the 12 people who followed my blog in April 2015, or you may be reading it for the first time, in which case, this is fucking good, but remember, I'm the writer in this relationship, so if you could keep your compliments to an absolute minimum that'd be ace, thanks.
After 42 years on earth I can list all the life advice I've ever been given (and remembered) in two short paragraphs. That's harsh, man; life is tricky and we NEED help. My children will be given advice - about everything - and taught real life skills. As I write this I'm teaching Frankie to be a ninja.
In my working life as a printer, having seen thumbs removed like chicken heads and single fingers become two fingers with the help of a Stanley knife, the best advice (given by a scouse midget cowboy - go with it) was: 'Never put your fingers where you wouldn't put your winkle.' GOOD ADVICE. I still have all my fingers (and my winkle).
In July this year, my younger, less-attractive brother will become a father. After raising 2 children past the point of babyhood and another through his primary school years (my stepson) I want to pass on some advice, warnings and philosophy to help young Darren through those golden months of new baby. Consider me his tour guide on the open-top bus through hell.
FIRST RULE OF BABY CLUB. DO NOT TALK ABOUT BABY CLUB. You care. I kind of care. Other people not so much. Do not go out and talk about babies, it's really fucking boring. That's what family are for. And Facebook.
ENJOY IT. Children are not an annoyance; yes they are 'ANNOYING' at times, but the good times are there. Have you ever given a baby a lemon to suck on? That shit is gold. Using a snot sucker is magic. Seriously, a small human baby man or girl child sleeping on your chest is as close to perfect as you can get in life.
DO NOT DRINK FOR THE FIRST SIX MONTHS. Now this goes against all my rules - I love booze - but imagine the last hangover you had, now imagine with that hangover having to get up at 5am, change a poo-filled nappy, rock a small screamy human back to sleep and repeat that scenario for the next 12 hours with the same hangover, not fun. Last drink at midnight, a small nightcap if you will, easing you into a restful sleep ... AND BAMMMM!!!! 45 MINUTES LATER AND THE CRYING PIERCES YOUR CRANIUM LIKE A FUCKING POWERDRILL. Don't do it.
GOING TO WORK IS THE EASY SHIFT. As a young man I was always confused by the older workers hanging round, staying late, coming in early. WHAT WAS WRONG WITH THEM? I know now, of course, that they had children, and working is easier than being with your children. Seriously, sorry dudes, but that line about being at work all day and being unable to take over when you get home is BULLSHIT. Work is a fucking breeze in comparison. Consider work your leisure time. When you get home YOU HAVE TO TAKE OVER. Make it fun, remember the lemons, get a bike seat, paint, colour in (I fucking love colouring in).
DO AS MANY NORMAL THINGS AS POSSIBLE WITH THE BABY. Take the baby to lunch, dinner, the beach, the pub, it's good socialisation, and trust me, you can't sit in the house for 6 months. Get a baby papoose and a good pram and you can lead pretty much your normal life.
YOU CANNOT DIE FROM LACK OF SLEEP. This is important to know. I had to reassure Lisa many, many times. Yes, your teeth will itch, your eyes will sting, you'll want to rip your own arms off and you'll go out with odd shoes on but you will not die. Remember that.*
YOU CANNOT 'BABYSIT' YOUR OWN CHILD. It's called being a parent.
GET LOTS OF DVD BOXSETS. YOU ARE NEVER LEAVING THE HOUSE AT NIGHT. There's only so much Come Dine With Me you can watch, so buy BOXSETS, lots of them.
* Addendum: technically yes, you can die from lack of sleep. A Chinese dude played PlayStation for 12 days' straight and died. Maybe don't combine fatherhood with PlayStations and being Chinese.