Last night my first Illiterate Infant and I started a new book. There I was, snuggled under the butterfly quilt reading about the structural implications of a poor choice in housing materials, seamlessly switching between my impression of a big bad wolf and a squealing rendition of “who’s afraid of the big bad wolf”.
For many people, this may not seem a like a big deal but I need to point out that I’ve come a long way. I can still remember the deep discomfort I felt when my wife told me we had to sing our little girl to sleep. I remember trying to lip sync along to twinkle twinkle until I received a stern dose of WTF, followed up with a glare that said “just sing!”. There I was in a darkened room cuddling our then 6 month old mumbling my way through the nightly mega-mix of Twinkle Twinkle, Baa Baa then Rock-a-bye baby to finish.
Up to that point my singing in public would have been alcohol assisted, surrounded by mates in a similar condition and probably involve lyrics about a guy called John who was a dock worker and his girlfriend Gina (first to name the song in the comments get mine and others complete admiration). I’ve vaporised from work functions at the merest hint of Karaoke, and “Milli Vanillied” my way through countless happy birthdays, funeral hymns and Christmas Carols.
For some reason, singing in public made me really uncomfortable. As did dancing, skipping, laughing loudly and anything else that drew unnecessary attention to myself.
Maybe it was the look of death from my significant other, maybe it was the trade-off I did in my head that if it made her sleep I’d try anything but that night I learnt something about being a Dad.
You see new Dads… it’s easy to step back and let your partner be the primary carer, hugger, kisser, repairer, band aid applier, tucker-inner and story-teller. If you work full-time and you’re the primary (or sole bread winner) you’ve got a pretty good reason to step back but if you do, you’ll be missing out on all the best bits about having kids.
My advice to you, new Dads is;
- If your child wakes at night – cuddle it to sleep
- Go grocery shopping with your kids without mum. It’s bonkers but you’ll have a ball and get some great stories.
- Read to your kids and use as many voices as you can.
- Take your child on adventures, just the two of you. Make some stories
- Watch their favourite television programs with them
- Sing to them – lots
In other words – get involved. No matter what hang ups you have or how silly something is or how busy you might be, at every opportunity… get. in. volved. Build your own relationships, create your own stories, give it some enthusiasm. Get. in. volved.
And don’t just focus on the fun stuff;
- Change nappies
- Give bottles
- give baths
- nurse through temperatures, colic, reflux, teething and mystery illnesses
- Cook, wash up, bake, clean
Let your child see you, a Dad being involved in everything. And while you’re at it; play silly games in public, see the world from 80cm above the ground, play horsies in shopping centres and put on that ballet tu-tu she hands you.
And when you’re tucking your nearly three year old in and she leans over she starts to sing twinkle twinkle in whispers… sing back.
Dad’s what would you advise? And Mum’s what do you think?
Sharing my Friday with Grace over at withsomegrace.com, because she’s lovely.