1. Baby photo’s
It really doesn’t matter how unfortunate looking your child may appear in a picture; yeah they may have a face like Benjamin Button or similar to when I was a child, have one eye that wanders around so much calling it ‘lazy’ seems almost ironic, but the fact is as soon as you stick that photo on Facebook, nearly every girl you have ever met will instantly hit the ‘like’ button. Now don’t get me wrong, I think this is a good thing, and certainly better than someone commenting ‘Jesus, your kids face looks like an old mans testicle’, but I’m still not sure a ‘like’ is always deserved either?!
2. Doting Grandparents
Grandparents naturally and justifiably think the world of their grandchildren. However they have so much love and devotion that they quite often seem to get blinded by facts. For example you will quite often hear them declare to their friends or other family members that their grandkid is “sooooo intelligent” because of some random and normally pretty unsensational thing they did that day. Now this declaration of course may well be true, they could be a genius in the making, go on to discover a cure for cancer or even potentially grow up and be able to build an Ikea table without any fuck ups. However, when you look at it objectively, this ‘sooo intelligent’ child is the same one who can’t wipe his own bottom unaided, can’t eat a simple meal without most if it ending up on the floor and does things like point at a sofa and shout “car, car” over and over. So clearly the “sooooo intelligent” tag at this point may be somewhat over egging it.
3. Men's fear
As a man, being handed a child that isn’t your own is always terrifying, as many of us have no idea how to behave around them. Yes we smile and say “yeah go on then, I’l have a cuddle”, but in reality we are praying you notice just how uncomfortable we look and for your own child’s safety, decide to pass us by. You can often see just how anxious we are about this situation when someone brings their baby into the office for the first time whilst on maternity leave. All the women will instantly spring up and run straight over for a cuddle, “oohing” and “ahhing” as they are genuinely excited about getting to hold the new bundle of joy. Men on the other hand are somewhat different. We will be hiding firmly behind our computers, discreetly peering over the screen like a pervert peers over his neighbours fence and secretly praying that you don’t come anywhere near us. Is this because we aren’t happy that the person has brought their baby in the office? No. It’s simply because we are petrified that they come our way and shortly after we’ll have to explain to a police officer just how we managed to drop the poor defenceless little bugger on it’s tiny soft head.
4. Face cleaning
When you’re a baby or a toddler you quite often get covered in whatever it is you are eating at the time, whether that be spaghetti bolognese, some Coco Pops or some endangered insect you’ve managed to dig up in the garden. Now this of course isn’t exactly the most hygienic of things to be doing and naturally parents and grandparents will want to get rid of this mess as soon as they possibly can. The easiest way you would have thought would be to quickly get some water and a tissue and wipe the child’s face. Not for most grandparent’s however. No, they will think the best way is in fact to take an old crusty tissue out of their pocket, cover it in their own saliva and bits of dinner they forgot to chew and then effectively wipe your mouth with something they’ve just spat out of their own. This always seemed illogical to me, wiping a dirty face with a dirty tissue. I mean you wouldn’t wipe the poor kids bottom by taking the tissue out of your pocket, wiping your own derrière and then heading their way would you?
5. Speed Crawling
When I first started babysitting my nephew he was about 8 months old. It was around this point of his development that he, like most kids I’d imagine, had started to realise that laying on his back all day crying was actually not that much fun. However what was fun, and what was going to keep his parents and his babysitter on their toes more than the cast of Swan Lake, was the art of speed crawling. In fact, even calling it crawling feels like I am doing him and other kids his age a huge miss service, as it was more of a gallop than a crawl. And not just any old gallop, but one that even frickin Sea Biscuit would be proud of. As soon as you put him down he would shoot off like a wind up toy, heading straight for the nearest open door, lit stove, dual carriageway, just to make sure you gave him the attention his incredible crawling ability deserved.
I am not someone who is particularly squeamish. I don’t start wretching when I smell something rotten, or look the other way when they show someone’s oozing third nipple on Embarrassing Bodies. However changing my first nappy nearly ended all that bravado, as when I peeled back the tape and opened it up, the sense of horror I felt and the face I pulled must have been similar to Brad Pitt’s when he opened the box at the end of the movie ‘Se7en’. I mean how does someone so small produce something so big? It made me think that you know how you occasionally hear people say someone’s ‘full of shit’? Well with babies that might literally be true…
7. Looking crazy
I would like to think of myself as someone of pretty sane mind. Yes when I was younger I had this OCD thing where I’d have to turn the lights on and off three times before ever walking out of a room (as I thought if I didn’t something terrible would happen to me or my family, obviously) but all in all I reckon I’m relatively normal. However when handed a child I, like most adults I’ve noticed, will instantly start displaying the mannerisms of a lunatic in a desperate attempt to raise a smile from them. Firstly I’ll start pulling the type of faces that if I did the same on my train to work the passenger opposite would desperately pull the emergency cord thinking I was having some kid of seizure. Next I’ll make noises that should never come from a sane human being’s mouth; yelping, squeaking, quacking and meowing, whilst the baby looks on non plussed and with an expression that suggests that as soon as he’s developed the ability to talk he’ll be telling me to fuck off and leave him the hell alone.
I am sure looking after your own child can be pretty terrifying, however looking after someone else’s is practically enough to send most people, especially men, into cardiac arrest. There is this fear that the moment you take your eyes off little Jimmy for a second he will instantly run out into the road or leap out of a window for no other reason than to put his death on your conscience. Therefore when I babysit my nephew Robert, whist he may be thinking that I am on all fours chasing him around just to keep him entertained, what is actually happening is I’m trying to stay within a few inches of him so if he even considers trying to eat some random object he’s found on the floor I can intervene before he starts turning blue.
9. Feeding time
Now I have alluded to this in number 8, but the most terrifying thing about a baby is not the fact that they have an ability to wrap you around their little finger, but that they appear to see almost anything and everything as edible. A piece of popcorn that’s been stuck down the back of the sofa for six months? Perfect. A tiny piece of cheese that’s turned green and has more hair on it than Chewbacca’s testicles? Step aside Heston Blumenthal, dinner….is….. served. Seriously, if you couldn’t afford a vacuum cleaner, just get your child in the wheelbarrow position and move him or her back and forth over the carpet and it will be spotless in no time. I mean who needs a bagless Dyson with ball technology when you’ve got a hungry inquisitive baby that can not only get into all nooks and crannies but also empty itself?
10. Baby monitors
Having babysat over night just the once, I came to realise very quickly that baby monitors are a blessing as well as a curse. Yes they are great because it means you can sit in another room, watch Match of The Day and chill out safe in the knowledge that if the baby even does so much as fart, you will be instantly alerted. However they also put me on edge as I kept thinking that I’d heard a noise so spent much of the night with it glued to my ear like a mobile phone and running up and down the stairs to check that the little fella hadn’t decided to run himself a bath or been stolen by a dingo.