The longest day – part 1

I was left alone with a ten week old child this Saturday. I can only assume that The Special One had exhausted all other options and – left with no other choice – decided to leave The Little One in my care. As a public service to new fathers everywhere, I’d like to share my diary from that day with you.

0915 Stare at the clock in abject horror. Mentally calculate that I’ve got somewhere in the region of ten hours to survive without accidentally physically or emotionally scarring my beloved daughter for life. Idly ponder whether I’ve got more chance of winning the Nobel Peace Prize by the time I’m 39, before realizing that I’ve just walked out of the bedroom leaving my impossibly young daughter all alone with my prize winning collection of antique razor blades.
0916 Look up the numbers for local doctors and hospitals just in case. Plan quickest route to hospital, before remembering that I don’t drive. Phone all taxi companies in the area to put them on standby.
0930 Daughter wakes from milk-induced coma, thoughtfully administered by The Special One prior to leaving. Change diaper, and beam with pleasure as The Little One smiles and laughs her way through the entire process. Transfer her to the bed, and lie next to her to play and chat.
0940 Wonder what all the fuss is about this whole childcare malarkey. Casually consider whether my ‘Dad of the Year’ mug will arrive in time for a Christmas morning brew.
0941 Daughter begins crying. Starts with a casual ‘I’ve just watched ET, and I can’t quite believe that he’s gone back home’ affair, before progressing to ‘I just stubbed my toe on a cast iron sewing machine thoughtfully left on the floor’. She then pauses briefly at ‘I’m sure I didn’t put “must get a demand for thousands of dollars of back tax on the same day that I get fired” on my Christmas wishlist’ before slamming headlong into ‘my fiance just dumped me at the altar to run off with my mother, but not before making me watch as he pureed three lovable puppies in a blender bought for us as a wedding present’.
0945 The high-pitched screams remind me that I must replace our smoke detectors. That is, if The Special One spares me my life when she gets home and finds The Little One still crying.
0951 Holy crap, has anyone ever got quite this red, hot and bothered before? The Little One is looking a bit peeky too.
0955 Check clock. Realise that I’ve only got through 40 minutes so far. Decide to put the wine rack in the downstairs bathroom, to put it out of temptation’s path.
0956 With daughter crying on shoulder, I hunt desperately through my music on iTunes trying to find something that resembles a lullaby.
0957 Hope that the neighbours don’t report me to social services for accidentally playing Slipknot at high volume whilst in charge of a minor.
0958 I don’t care what I might have said in the past, I’ve always loved ABBA! The first bars of Dancing Queen provoke instant calm in The Little One, and I lower her down onto my chest for a celebratory dance. Am given a look that suggests I will be tolerated at best. She must have learnt it from her mother.
1001 Crying starts again immediately as the song finishes, and I frantically try to line up another track. Inwardly pray that Dancing Queen is not the only song that keeps her happy, for fear that I may turn into a babbling mess after ten hours. “Having the time of your life”, my arse.
1002 Take A Chance On Me seems to work too. Am now in full-on whoop-and-holler, and begin to create devious Baby Whisperer playlist.
1034 Michael Jackson is a hit with the kids. Not the first time that sentence has been used, clearly.
1042 Am now on a roll. Have discovered that Queen has a similarly soothing effect, and croon along happily with Crazy Little Thing Called Love.
1045 Decide that I need to vet future lyrics for appropriateness, after serenading my daughter with Bohemian Rhapsody’s “I sometimes wish I’d never been born at all.”
1101 Blimey, she does NOT like Radiohead. To be fair, even Radiohead’s kids don’t like Radiohead, but I thought I’d try out a little bit of commercial credibility before heading back to the cheese.
1109 Is it wrong to play Amy Winehouse to your ten week old daughter?
1115 Mind wanders to the fact that I’ve not had coffee yet. Daughter still calm from all the dancing and singing, so decide to take my chances. I put her down with her favourite glow worm toy, and walk into the kitchen as Twinkle Twinkle Little Star plays.
1115 and 12 seconds Manage to turn tap on before screaming begins. Walk back into living room, pick daughter up, and press button to soothe her with the help of REM’s Shiny Happy People. Hand slips at last moment, and we end up dancing to Can’t Fight This Feeling by REO Speedwagon.
1130 Finally make it back to kitchen, with Freres Jacques being emitted by the glow worm.
1130 and 27 seconds Oh for crying out loud.
1140 Back to the kitchen. Four tablespoons of coffee go into the percolator. Am midway through administering tablespoons five to ten when I hear a bone shuddering thud back in the living room.
1141 Soothe cat, who has fallen backwards off the arm of the sofa onto the wooden floor. Presumably in shock at The Little One remaining quiet for thirty seconds. Cat refuses to dance to Barry Manilow with me, but seems offended when I walk back to kitchen. I think she was hoping for some N’Sync.
1148 Finally turn coffee machine on. Adopt the appearance of a man who has five minutes to defuse a bomb, with beads of sweat dripping down my brow as I wait to see whether the coffee will be completed before The Little One inevitably explodes.
1153 Does she have x-ray vision, enabling her to sense when the coffee is going to be ready?!
1159 Look at the clock. Struggle to understand why time is moving more slowly today. Surely it must be 7pm already. On Wednesday. Wonder how I’m going to make it through the afternoon. Decide to hide the Brit Out Of Water collection of fine malts.

To be continued…

10 thoughts on “The longest day – part 1

  1. punctuation

    “Accidentally put on REO Speedwagon”. You’re fooling nobody but yourself… 😉

    Now you know why most fathers have bald patches by the time they reach middle-age. Personally, right now is the easy bit, it’s downhill from the age of 11 because that’s when they start to believe they can put forward, ad nauseum, convincing arguments to show you the error of your ways when denying their request for money/later curfew/money/booze/parties at unsuitable locations/money/another day off school/money.

    Mind you, the stage she’s at now is just a process of necessary strengthening for the vocal chords for use in later life in a last ditch attempt to highlight your tyranny as she retreats, door slammingly, to her room to post aggrieved updates on Facebook along the lines of “my Mom and Dad are SO unfair – it’s my body and I can tattoo it if I want to”.

  2. jinksy

    Pardon me while I smile…Maybe the answer is one of those baby sling contraptions that holds baby safely in front of you, while giving your arms freedom enough to make, and drink, coffee! Can’t wait for part two….

  3. Sarah Playle

    Would take the screaming any day….I got told “Mum, you’re not very good!” today….My daughter is 2 1/2!!!! Enjoy the screaming as it is all downhill from here, or actually a bloody hard walk uphill…Whichever way, it doesn’t get any easier than a 10week old.

  4. Dylan

    Ian/Sarah – you forget that on top of the ten week old, I have for two and a half years been handling the daily machinations of two children who are now 12 and 15. There isn’t an insult/ploy/bit of faulty logic that I haven’t yet heard, I can tell you!

    And Jinksy, I am aiming to use one of those sling things, but even being in the same room as me and the sling causes paroxysms for The Little One at the moment…

  5. Brooklyn


    Sorry to pile on, but with pre-teens and teens, after they harangue you, you can leave them to their own devices (nowadays, that is not a metaphor, they have laptops, cellphones, ipods).

    But wait till your child is a toddler: you will vacillate between trying to entertain her in a constructive way, and when you run out of ideas or energy, feel guilty about anaesthetizing her with video entertainment. You think the Jurassic Park raptors were scary dinasours? They had nothing on Barney to an adult after more than 15 minutes.

    Now you can try to calm your child by rocking her while you enjoy grown-up entertainment(I originally wrote “adult entertainment” but realized that under one interpretation of the phrase, this would be seen as creepy, if not downright sickening. ) Even if you think she’ll be scarred by being exposed to “Assault on Precinct 13” when she is weeks old, you can listen to NPR without being told how boring it is to young ears.

  6. Mike

    There were many laugh out loud passages but there was only one milk through nose bit: “1034 Michael Jackson is a hit with the kids. Not the first time that sentence has been used, clearly.”

  7. Joe Pidgeon

    Hi Dylan,
    Very funny and brought back memories. My tip is to turn on a hairdryer – the white noise totally stops them crying for some weird reason and if you can handle the noise of the hairdryer….
    Hope you are well and oh by the way, we call them nappies over here

  8. Silverback

    Being childless (and wifeless but that’s not important right now), I can only imagine the terror of being home alone with a baby. Right now I’m taking a weeks leave from sunny Florida and am up in Michigan with amongst others, a 21 month old.

    Yes he’s been as cute as a button so far but I know if I’m ever left alone in a room with him, I’ll win the race to see who cries first ! At least the sight of a grown man liquefying before him should stun him into silence. That’s my plan anyway.

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