You know about the tunnel, right? The early childhood tunnel? YOU KNOW: that vortex that you enter – oh – at about the same time time you deliver a tiny human into a midwife/surgeon/surprised bus driver’s arms, and you hear, “Congratulations! You’re a parent!”
I hadn’t really thought about the tunnel until I listened to my second-favourite human (Adam Buxton) interview Rob Delaney (off of my favourite TV show, Catastrophe) for my favourite podcast (The Adam Buxton Podcast). Adam Buxton was asking Rob Delaney about fatherhood, and Rob Delaney explained that he had, like, four kids (four boys!) under four, or something like that. It might’ve been three under three. Regardless, there were many male children close in age. The youngest child was still very small – like, nipple-sucking small. And Rob Delaney was explaining the chaos of trying to change the nappies of two wriggling, milk-drunk humans while being simultaneously beaten around the head with a plastic sieve and a Smurf, or something (that wasn’t the analogy. I can’t remember the exact analogy. I’m only talking from bitter, bitter experience with regards to that analogy). Anyway, Adam Buxton – whose three kids are older – was like, “Oh, MATE. You’re in the TUNNEL.” And Rob Delaney had a bit of a light-bulb moment, and was, like, “Yeah! I’m in the fucking tunnel!” And at the time that I listened to this podcast – probably about a year ago now, with at least one kid still in nappies, and only a third of my children at school, and 100% of my offspring unable to wipe their own arse – I thought, “Yeah! I’m in the fucking tunnel too! It’s dark in the tunnel! Hold me.”
So anyway, last week I was interviewing the thoroughly nice pop star Alex Lloyd (as you do) and he was explaining that he’s been out of the music-making biz for a few years, and is only just getting back into writing and recording his own stuff. And I was, like, “Why’s that my friend?” And he goes, “Oh, you know, KIDS. They’re all at school now, so I’ve got a bit of my life back.” And I practically shouted (uncool): “DUDE! YOU WERE IN THE TUNNEL!” And he was, like, “Yeah! I was in the tunnel. It was dark in the tunnel. Hold me.” He didn’t really say that. Anyway. We had a bit of a chat about the tunnel, and about how all-consuming early parenthood is, and how – one day – you reach the end of the tunnel, and you emerge, blinking, like a newborn calf – all wobbly kneed and covered in bodily fluids. And it’s weird, because THE WORLD HAS CONTINUED TO TURN in your absence, and you’ve kind of got to readjust to humanning. (I reckon that’s why Alex Lloyd got a hard time at the Brownlows, or whatever the fuck they’re called. He’s been in a tunnel, GODDAMMIT. He’s forgotten how to human! Give the guy a break; he has FOUR CHILDREN.)
I reckon the reason I’m ready to write about the tunnel is that I’m coming to the end of it. It’s strange. My babies aren’t babies anymore. They dress themselves (albeit badly). They feed themselves (albeit badly). They tell jokes (albeit badly). They remember where they’ve hidden the Foxtel remote, and will tell you once they’ve been appropriately blackmailed. They can dob on their siblings. They sleep in beds and wear normal human underwear and can be bargained with. GO THE FUCK TO SLEEP OR WE’LL LOVE YOUR BROTHERS MORE THAN YOU.
I’m going to say the next bit very, very quietly, just in case I jinx it: parenthood is getting easier. Touch wood! Touch wood!
I genuinely feel as though I can see the light. It’s dim, but it’s there. Which brings with it a little hint of sadness, ‘cos NO MORE BABIES. I like babies. I miss not having one around.
God, that’s bullshit. I like the bit when babies fall asleep on your chest and – god, no, that’s bullshit too. I’ve just remembered what it’s like when they fall asleep on your chest and you’re dying for a wee but you can’t move because even if you so much as blink you’ll wake the little fuckers and have to walk around the bedroom rocking them in that very particular fashion to get them back to sleep. You forget about that shit.
I like THIS bit. This bit when they’re proper, functioning humans conversing in lisps and fairy tales. Like, Frankie the other day was explaining about the different types of RIGHT. “There’s wight the way and wite with a pen and wight and wrong and white the colour.” And god we laughed, and I thought, wight, that’s perfect, you can pause time now please. They’re at their absolute funniest at this age – three and four, and to a certain extent 10 – and the fact that they’re practically self-sufficient and can prepare their own breakfast of Cheezels and Jatz Crackers is simply an added bonus. All aboard the end-of-the-tunnel express! Wooooo-woooooo! (I’m so sorry.)