Guest Blog by James’ Daddy…
When it came to writing this, I thought about several different topics, but when I thought about all the different things he does, or doesn’t do, the one thing that really stood out for me was the happiness he brings. Now, I don’t want to write about how marvelous fatherhood is, or write one of those smug ‘my kid eats quinoa and pomegranate seed salad’ blogs, Leila has always tried to present an honest view, warts and all, so I think I should follow her lead. It’s just that to me, even his most tyrannical behaviour makes me smile. Maybe it’s Stockholm syndrome, having been oppressed by a rampant baby/toddler in my own home for almost 2 years now, but let’s put it down to love.
James makes me happy. Even as I write this, I’m watching him watch ‘wheels on the bus’ on YouTube. He is doing this because he ‘ disagreed’ with how mummy was putting the shopping away and had a tantrum. Mummy matched his tantrum and banished him into the living room with me to watch YouTube, let’s call it a difference of opinion between the two. Anyway, he is stood there, watching YouTube, dressed in his red polo shirt and slacks as if he were about to play a round of golf. He is spinning around and smiling to the music, and trying to copy the actions he doesn’t understand. It’s these nondescript moments, rather than big partys or passed milestones that give me genuine happiness and that stay in my memory. I can’t really remember the specifics of his first tooth, his first word, or his first crawl, but I remember when I span him around in my arms in a park in Bath and he laughed his head off at me as if this was the most fun he had ever had. I remember when he smiled at me and moved my hand to his toy cars a week ago to communicate that he wanted me to play with him with them. I remember how happy these moments made me.
Milestones are not as I expected anyway. It’s not like they just start saying words, or just get up and walk. Things like a first word or first step are gradual and leave you wondering…was that a word or just a noise? Was that a step or did he just actually stumble? We used to try to make sense out of every noise he made from 6 months, was it a word!?!? What does it mean!?!? I hear friends who are new parents doing this too, it’s natural, just make sure you don’t miss all the magic moments in between.
So what? Kids smiling or laughing are always going to bring happiness right? Well yeah, but James makes me happy even when he is being his tyrant self. His current party trick is to push me out of the door and close the door on me, which he does with full eye contact (I don’t take it personally, he does it to mummy too). Rather than this making me alarmed or sad, I love it. He does other tyrannical things too. If my hand goes in the bath when he is playing at bath time he will very calmly pick it up and move it out, that will be my first warning. If I try to turn him upside down when we are playing together, he will twist my nipple (this is daddy specific, I’m pretty sure he scientifically targets it as a weak spot). If I disturb his independent play he will go nuts and try and shove me out. For some reason, this rejection doesn’t worry me, it’s James expressing himself, that he doesn’t want daddy at that specific moment, he is being independent.
As well as the lovely memories and the despot behaviour, there is also the ‘that’s a bit weird’ category. This is James’ speciality. Actions falling into this category include giving me the back of his hand to kiss at dinner, as if he were a fair maiden and I was a bowing prince. If I don’t play along with this game, he will be VERY displeased. There was also the sausages phases, where simply saying sausages caused a reaction so extreme, it was as if it were the funniest things he’d ever heard. Then there’s the habit he has to put any loose cat food pellets back in their bowls as he waddles past. If he sees a stray pellet of food he will carefully bend down, pick it up and return it to their bowl with a world-weary sigh, as if he disapproves of the cats slapdash approach to food hygiene. (This makes him a massive hypocrite, James lecturing on messy eating is like Humpty Dumpty doing a lecture on wall safety).
All these good, bad and plain weird things he does always make me smile. James has good points and bad points. He is good at growing hair, teeth and sleeping. On the flip side he is not talking yet, grunts and growls at the most minor perceived parental indiscretion and refuses to even countenance eating food which isn’t a variant of chicken dippers, mash and beans. He is my James though, and he is developing little quirks, likes and dislikes which all make up a personality. We often joke that if James were ever kidnapped, they’d offer us money to take him back, but I couldn’t put a value on the joy he brings to my life. He is imperfect and yet perfect, a tiny terror and yet a beautiful little cherub. Happiness to me is James being all these things and having the chance to watch him grow and develop in front of my eyes. Still, he can be a bit of a jerk sometimes….