“No man is an island” is a famous quote by John Donne and I know this because I just looked it up (Interesting fact. In the very same paragraph he also came up with “For whom the bell tolls”.) That’s the John Donne highlights though. Fifty years of of writing poetry and that single poem at was his only success. Essentially he was the ‘Elbow’ of the 17th Century.
Anyway, it’s the phrase most associated with the need for human companionship. “No man is an island, entire of himself.” Except for this man.
Plus millions of others I suspect. Upon leaving behind parental constraints, males revel in the fact that no one can tell us what to do. We are adults. Fuck you rationality. If I want to eat my own bodyweight in kebab meat and wank myself silly I will! It’s my unwritten constitutional right.
The biggest threat to this freedom is a long term relationship or marriage. All of a sudden someone comes along with the temerity to try and tell us what to do. Phrases like “No you can’t go out tonight”, “we can’t have sausages for dinner three nights in a row” or “don’t put that in your mouth” become all too commonplace. If you’re a top level twat like myself, when it’s the two of you, incursions into your ‘zone’ can be beaten off fairly easy, but the coming of a child can often mean a proxy war. A pretext to take away your rights as a man, using the baby. You are the USA. Your other half is the USSR. The child is Cold War-era Berlin. This analogy is getting too complicated. I’ve lived through this all-out assault on my rights, so it’s my duty to warn you of three specific ways in which mother will assert her rights over you using your innocent child.
One of the first big arguments we had post child was the need for a baby bath. For those of you unfamiliar with a baby bath (as I was) the easiest way to explain is with a Q&A role-play.
Q: What is a baby bath?
A: Same as the bath you have but smaller.
Q: But what does it do differently to your established bath?
Q: A bath you place within another bath?
A: Yes, like Inception. And just like the film, totally baffling.
Q: Is it a safety thing? You don’t want the baby slipping and hitting its head
on the bath?
A: You’d think so, but no. You need to hold the baby at all times when they’re that young so it makes no difference if you’re dipping it in the bath or say a glorified washing up bowl.
Q: If you absolutely have to have a smaller version of your bath, could you not just use the sink?
A: LOL. That would be far too sensible a solution.
Q: So why do you need a baby bath?
A: YOU DON’T.
I’m not anti fun. I want my children to have lovely toys and possessions and things around that make them happy. It’s just the gadgets and shit we never use that stack up, until your house resembles a labyrinth made from bulky plastic. The Humidifier incident is still one that rankles.
Child #1 had a cold and we absolutely had to get a humidifier, even in the face of me showing my wife several articles stating there is no evidence they help colds. “Ah but there’s no evidence they don’t” was always the retort. I always retorted to that retort with “Put some crystals in the cot and shove a pair of copper bracelets on him while you’re at it.” Under my breath obviously. Anyway as expected it was used once and was relegated to valuable cupboard space, except the thing was egg shaped. A giant, useless, plastic mist-spouting fucking egg. You couldn’t stack anything on it or under it. Every time I opened that cupboard it taunted me. I would ask “Can we throw this thing away?” The answer was always “No, we might need it again” In the end I deliberately broke the valve so it had to go in the bin. A crime my wife suspected me of the moment I committed it, but she had no real proof (apart from this article. But yeah I did it. I’m glad I did it. And do you know what? I’d do it again in one hot minute.) This was a revelation.
Since then I’ve been on an orgy of abduction and violence against the things I believe hold no value. Oh hello plastic sippy cups with missing lids that never get used because both children *have* to drink out of one specific cup that is not you. Would like a trip to the bin? Rusty Tricycle that my wife found abandoned in the street that she thinks is in the front shed? Took it to the tip six months ago. Horrible teddy that looks like a prop from a Nic Roeg film, scares both children but is not to be thrown away because a relative bought it and we don’t want to upset them by not having it on display at all times? Sue Ryder Shop. What does my wife say about this?
Nothing because you tend not notice things are missing IF YOU NEVER USE THOSE THINGS.
Take back control guys. Let no one tell you what you have to have in your house even if they own half of it and jointly pay the mortgage with you. NO ONE.
Its 7.45am, you’ve just spent the last hour wrangling your children who are literally acting like a pair of shaved macaques. Shitty nappies have been changed, faces have been scrubbed, bellies have been filled and clothes have been forced upon them. You are ready to leave. What more is there to do? Brush their teeth.
There are two ways of brushing toddler’s teeth. Let them do it themselves. Which doesn’t work. They just chew the toothbrush like it some sort of toddler-cigar wandering around looking like Al Capone with yoghurt dribbling down his chin. The other is doing it for them. Which doesn’t work either. For some reason children don’t seem to like someone jabbing a stick with a brush on the end into their mouth while saying things like “Open wider”, “Come on let me get to the back!” and “The quicker you stop retching, the quicker we’ll be done” It soon became the second most stressful part of the day for dear old Daddy. The first most stressful? The constant barracking about whether or not I indeed had brushed said teeth. Told constantly that I must do it or their “teeth will fall out” I would often scream back “THEY’RE SUPPOSED TO FALL OUT. THEY’RE BABY TEETH” Under my breath. And in my head. Just to be sure she didn’t hear.
So I stopped doing it. And before you judge me for being a bad father, let me show you my working. The wife does them in the evening. I do them in the morning (supposedly). I figure since she gives them a good going over I don’t need to. Plus I’ve always been convinced this brush twice a day nonsense is something perpetrated by ‘Big Paste’. I know I have no real evidence for this but if you have to believe the pseudo science about humidifiers, then sozza you have to believe me too. You can be selective with your pseuedo science. Plus it’s not like they eat mutton or anything.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against brushing your children’s teeth I’d just rather wait to get involved when they have their proper ones. It’s like qualifying at a Grand Prix. You don’t want to peak too early.
I hate hate hate, seeing little oiks F-ing and J-ffing all over the place. You know the sort. The ones that tell their Mum to “Fack orff” in Tesco after being told they can’t have another cigarette or something. Or a gang of thirteen year olds on the top deck of the bus claiming all sorts of outlandish things about the vaginas of each other’s mothers. Seeing children swear badly is not nice. Which is why it’s imperative that you teach them to swear properly. Now it’s fair to say this is an educational theory that my wife does not subscribe to. Which is why I am constantly told not to swear in front of the children. I see this as an assault on my human rights and moreover not very practical. I am the son of two Irish people. I’m pretty certain I dropped the C bomb well before I was ten. I’ve peppered my language with swear words for approximately thirty of my thirty-six years on this earth. In most cases to wonderful reviews. To try and stop now would be lunacy. Now this doesn’t mean I purposefully swear in front of them, but it does mean I’m not ashamed of saying ‘for fuck sake’ when I trip over something like an unused humidifier for instance. Everybody does that. It’s unrealistic to expect a three year old not to prick their ears up and not think “Wwwwhat was that delightfully guttural phrase that my father just uttered? It was delivered with such passion and energy?” It’s even more unrealistic to think they’ll fall for the “Nothing. Daddy said for truck sake.” gambit. They know.
Which is why you should kneel down and explain to them that it’s a word only adults are allowed to use and children are not to say it. And I swear it works. To this day our son does not use the F word even though he hears me say it periodically. He does say ballbags though, when he’s frustrated. I’m owning that one. I don’t care how much condemnation that draws from my wife. He can say it as much as he wants. The other thing is to teach them that swearwords are only to be used against objects and not people. (I’m not an animal) In the coming years I intend to move on to next module of how swearing correctly and flamboyantly will gain you all sorts of currency. I remember making my best friend in Primary School by leaning over him as he read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory book and saying “Hurrr.. He’s called willy wanker” He then repeated it to the teacher and got in quite a lot of trouble which really does prove my point you need to be taught how to swear correctly, no matter how many times my wife claims responsible swearing is not a thing.
So in conclusion, I’m almost certain my children won’t grow up to hang around on street corners wheezily shouting “BALLBAGS!” with their toothless mouths at passersby. But if they do, I’ll happily buy them some veneers and the best and bulkiest humidifier money can buy. Probably be too late to do anything about the potty mouths by then, but two out of three ain’t bad.
To read more from the Dadileaks series, click here
Brian is a 37 year old father of two, whose only long term parenting goal is to give both his children a comprehensive education in late 90s & early 00s shouty Hip Hop. A natural philanthropist, he has committed to leaking trade secrets from the front-line of fatherhood.
Brian Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/bplmurphy
Andy Twitter: https://twitter.com/bushontheradio
Image: Andy Bush