Monday, February 25, 2008


Mrs Norty and I are about to become grand parents for the 4th time in the next couple of months, Other readers are likely to follow in the not to distant future, so I thought it was time to compile some of our most useful parenting know-how into one easy-to-access pile. So to speak. To accomodate these new and soon-to-be parents’ sudden micro-attention spans, I’ve put it in the form of simple bulleted lists.

Fluids — Babies arrive wet with various fluids, and this sets the tone for their first year of life:

· You are now going to have vomit on you. This is not exactly permanent, but you should settle in for the long-term. Accepting this will be an important step.

· When you cease being covered with vomit you won’t notice for a while.

· ‘Vomit’ here is typically a curd-like product resembling yogurt. You may stop eating yogurt for a while.

· You should visit a 24-hour dairy in order to acclimate yourself to the most important new parenting role of yourself or your wife.

· Male or female, you will doubtless laugh the first time your child urinates directly into your face, but this will wear thin after a few weeks and you will start fantasizing about your child’s 18th birthday.

· Poop can be a fluid and as such can be sprayed across a moderately-sized room.

· When the teeth start coming, you will not be able to believe the amount of drool one small human can produce. Seriously, this is what it feels like to have a mini Niagara Falls right onto your shoulder.

· Contrary to advertising, babies do perspire, and should be flipped backwards and forwards occasionally to allow evaporation.

· In spite of all this moisture, babies generally smell really nice, especially the drier parts of their heads. You will miss this smell when it’s gone.

Poop — If you and your partner are still talking to each other after all this, most of your conversations will be about poop, so it’s important to have some basics down:

· The poop of a newborn looks almost exactly like whole-grain mustard, but does not taste exactly the same. You might consider switching to horseradish for a few months.

Leisure and hobbies — No, this is not a cruel joke. Okay, maybe it is.

· Expect your leisure time to be severely curtailed, mainly because any time which previously was more or less free will now be taken up with hollow laughs and comments such as ‘Leisure time! HA don’t make me laugh!’.

· Even the smallest babies can be mesmerized by the glow of a television, so this is one area of your leisure activities which need not be impinged upon. Providing you are an avid follower of the Teletubbies.

· Once the baby has fallen asleep for the evening, your regular, pre-baby activities can resume. For eleven minutes.

· However exciting your hobbies were before the baby came, looking at its face will be better. Note: this is true of the firstborn child only.

Out and about — Sometimes it’s completely unavoidable!

· You don’t go out anymore.

· If you do go out, your child’s behavior will make you wish you had not. Instead of cringing and apologizing, try to think of yourself as providing a public service by acting as a walking advertisement for birth control.

· A trip to the supermarket will take on the logistical complications of landing 154,000 men on the shores of Normandy.

Clothing and appearance — Yours are no longer important.

· Little known fact: during the first six months, all parents receive a waiver releasing them from having to wear things right-side-out. Take advantage of this.

· No matter how cute you think it is when your toddler puts on your shoes and pretends to be you, the cuteness of this scene when shared drops away according to the following formula:

Female parent of child under 4: 50% cuteness
Male parent of child of under 4: 25% cuteness
Female non-parent: 15% cuteness
Male non-parent: 5% cuteness

· Many parents think it’s cute to dress their tiny newborns in onesies with the logos of obscure, hard-core 80’s punk bands on them. Feel free not to bother.

· Hand-me-downs rule.

· It may bug the living shit out of you to have complete strangers mistaking your little girl/boy for a little boy/girl. Try dressing them in nothing but blue or pink (as appropriate). Or you could just get over it and stop imposing your gender roles.

Your New Life — Things will never be the same again!

· Your lower back will never be in better condition than it is today. Enjoy it!

· As your child grows into a toddler, your ability to reason with cats will doubtless improve.

· Don’t forget: it is possible to become pregnant while nursing. “Safe” sex will take on a whole new meaning, and your attitude toward acceptable risk will see some subtle changes.

· Everything you do when baby arrives, is vastly more important than it was before. But no pressure.

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