18 months as a dad: what have I learned?

After a year-and-a-half in the parenthood trenches I’ve discovered that kids are bloody hard work, nothing makes me happier than seeing my son smile, and being a dad is probably the greatest thing in the world.

The stuff I expected to happen

From newborn to crawling and from talking to full-blown toddling, our little boy Sonny has been a handful. He’s done everything I ever feared a young kid would do to me. He’s screamed and cried at me, cost me a fortune, stolen all of my free time, woken me up at every hour of the night, smashed up our house, driven the dog to the brink of breakdown, crapped in the bath, bashed his head on cupboards, and started gleefully repeating the word “no” to routinely devastating effect.

It seems like everyone focuses on the negatives when they’re about to have their first kid, but that’s because there are so many unanswered questions.  Will everything go OK with the birth? Will they be healthy? Are we responsible enough to deal with a child? Can we afford it? How will we cope with the sleepless nights? How disgusting are dirty nappies? That’s the stuff you think about most because you have no idea how you’ll deal with it until it happens to you.

For the most part I think we’ve handled it pretty well – barring an unspeakably gratuitous dirty protest following one of Sonny’s recent naps that was so disgusting I can’t even write down the words to describe what we found in his room – and after 18 months I can honestly say it hasn’t been half as bad as I thought. In fact it’s been much much better. Apart from the lack of sleep, of course. I’ll simply never get used to that.

6 things I’ll never forget

  1. Sonny holding my hand for the first time
  2. The horrors of changing that first crappy nappy
  3. How chubby his newborn legs were (and still are)
  4. Welling up at my desk when Gem sent me a video of his first smile
  5. Watching him walk across a room for the first time
  6. The first full day we spent alone together – because it nearly broke me

kids swimming

The stuff I hoped would happen

More than anything, I just wanted to be a good dad and to love our baby as much as I’ve seen other dads love theirs. I know that sounds cheesy, but I was genuinely worried on both points. I’ve never been a baby person in the past, so was nervous that a screaming sack of skin and bones would arrive in our house and I just wouldn’t feel anything for it. Even worse, that I might not even like it.

Luckily for me the second I first saw Sonny (even though he was probably the ugliest newborn baby in the history of newborn babies), I knew he was the little legend I’d been hoping for. I’ll never be able to fully describe how I felt when he first opened his eyes, or gripped my finger with his tiny hand, or opened his mouth to make a noise. But needless to say I cried. A lot. And with every day that’s gone past since, I can honestly say I’ve loved him more and more.

In terms of being a good dad, I think I’m doing OK. We work hard every day to make sure Sonny experiences as much new stuff as possible, meets as many new people as possible, goes to as many new places as possible, and generally has as much fun as we can possibly make him have. At the time of writing he’s turned into – in my biased opinion – a pretty good kid. Sonny’s happy, energetic, funny, cheeky and hopefully on his way to becoming a very nice little boy. He’s got a mischievous and devilish streak in him though, which at the moment seems like a lot of fun, but I’ll wait a few more months before I pass full judgement on that!!!

6 things I’d never have learned without Sonny

  1. That eating mashed up fish fingers, cheese and beans is awesome
  2. That the Gruffalo is the best book ever
  3. That I quite like watching Thomas The Tank Engine before work
  4. That carrying an insomniac baby round your house for hours on end every night is bad for your back
  5. That my car will never, ever be clean again
  6. That even grumpy old adults like me can still have fun

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The stuff I never saw coming

I never thought a kid could be such great company, especially when they’re still so young. Sonny still barely stands taller than my knee, can’t talk properly and only understands around 20% of the things I say – but we have so much fun together.

From around 6 months old this little dude has been a constant source of entertainment to me. He laughs when I laugh, dances when I dad-dance in front of him, rides bikes with me, runs around the garden with me, swings in my hammock with me, kicks footballs with me, takes selfies with me, paddles in my canoe with me, builds dens with me, smashes water balloons with me, and generally enjoys all the same daft stuff I do. And the fact he loves all this stuff so much means I’ve got the perfect excuse to keep doing it!

I always say to people that having a kid has been both tougher than I expected, and more enjoyable than I expected. Tougher in the sense that it’s been even more relentless than I thought it would be. We have no family living nearby, and the demands that looking after a toddler places on your time are massive. But having said that, I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed (almost) every minute of it. Of course I don’t like the tantrums, or the sleepless nights, or the wreckage he creates in our house, or when he’s feeling ill and cranky; but the positives outweigh the negatives about 50 to 1.

I could never imagine a world when I wake up without wanting to see Sonny’s face, or play with him, or give him a big hug and tell him that he’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me.

Thanks for the greatest 18 months of my life Big Man!

6 things I love about my little boy

  1. His pokey little chin
  2. His big chubby cheeks
  3. His toothy little grin
  4. His non-stop love for life
  5. His cheeky sense of humour
  6. His dynamite right foot that’s going to make me millions!

3 Replies to “18 months as a dad: what have I learned?”

  1. Just found this post on what happens to be Mila’s 18 month birthday, it really made me smile. He’s a little legend and Mila is lucky to have such a cool boyfriend (apart from last week when they’d had a tiff and weren’t getting on). Beautifully written!

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