Parenthood is full of surprises and here Jamie fills us in on 10 unexpected things he has learnt since becoming a parent!
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1) Channel 5 is Actually Ok (Untill 9:15am)
Like the rest of the TV watching world, I used to think Channel 5 was a channel that showed nothing more than budget 90s films, dodgy soft porn and weird daytime shows highlighting the sad plight of slightly-unhinged long distance lorry drivers. Positioned next to the renown big-hitters BBC, ITV and Ch4, yet with its bargain-basement listings, surely it didn’t deserve such esteemed company?
How wrong could I have been… from the hours of 6.00am - 9.15am anyway.
Milkshake on Channel 5 first thing in the morning is a young child’s dream; there’s Peppa Pig, Ben and Holly, Little Princess, Noddy, Paw Patrol and much, much more. There’s more than enough to keep a young child entertained (quiet) whilst you whizz round the house, half-dressed, necking lukewarm coffee and trying to locate their ruddy school shoes. I’m not saying Ch5’s shows are going to be Bafta-worthy any time soon, but they serve a bloody good purpose whilst the morning madness unfolds.
Ice Road Truckers this afternoon anyone?
2) Cheap Plastic Toys on Magazines are a Girls Best Friend
What is it about these cheap bits of god-awful plastic that appeals to children? We’ve got whistles that don’t blow, tuneless recorders, magnifying glasses that don’t magnify, boats that don’t float and glittery tack that have given the soles of my feet numerous bruises over the last couple of years.
They must cost a few pennies to make, yet in children’s eyes, they’re the Crown Jewels. So I guess, ‘well done’ to the people who make these cheap toys - you’ve got a product that’s cheap to produce and is always going to be popular – a dream of a business model!
I take my flimsy pirate hat (with easily-snapped elastic) off to you…
3) Ewan the Sheep is God
Ewan’s front right foot… you know what I’m talking about don’t you? Come on, we all know; sweet, tender tones that not only soothe (AKA drowns out creaking floorboards, noisy doors and other household clatters) the loudest of babies, but also lull parents into a deep and soothing slumber.
If only that darn thing could play on a loop all night…
4) Nothing is ever forgotten
I can’t remember what I had for lunch. In fact, I can’t even remember the first part of this blog but children, blimey, they remember EVERYTHING.
‘Daddy, do you remember when…?’ ‘Mummy, you said we’d do this today’… and so on. But whilst us parents might expect them to remember big events or what happened a few days ago, it’s the small detail from months ago, that we’ve long forgotten that repeatedly surprise/scare us over and over again.
Whilst we might vaguely ask a year on from an event something like “Darling, do you remember that lovely beach when we were on holiday?” expecting an elusive “yes”, the response will in fact be more like, “yes, and do you remember daddy dropping his watermelon ice lolly on that beach when we were walking past that white dog who was digging a hole in the sand and his owner was drinking a bottle of beer and the lady next to him was snoring with a magazine over her face and her little boy was burying her feet with sand?” And breathe. Err yes sure, I remember that, or not.
Children’s memories are remarkable and because of this, you certainly can’t pull the wool over their eyes. Try and skip a couple of pages (or even lines) of a book to hurry bedtime up a little? Not a chance, go back. Promised them some chocolate buttons at the weekend? Start the car, you might as well head to the shops now.
Now, if only they could remember they’ve got better toys than the ones from those magazines.
5) It’s amazing what we can do with one hand (oi oi)
I was reminded of such parenting miracles at a recent fourth birthday party as another parent mentioned, “it’s amazing what we can do with one hand”. The remark came as I stood; three-month-old son cradled in one arm, straining for his milk bottle’s erratic movements, whilst my other hand dealt with the construction and decoration of a paper crown to satisfy his older sister, desperate to join in the regal theme. And once the crown was made, my hand then turned to taking photos, opening water bottles tight enough to keep out a Hatton Gardens gang, feeding children, feeding myself, sorting through the mind-boggling warren of a changing bag and then rounding it all off with the mother of all challenges when a young baby is attached to your hip… going to the loo.
This wasn’t a one-off; this is everyday life with young children. A never ending one handed battle with food, mess, toys, clothes and wee (theirs and yours).
6) Home is where the heart is
When my wife George fell pregnant the first time, we were living in the heart of North London moments away from cool pubs, trendy shops and loads of friends. Fast forward a few years with a growing family and seeking more space and value for our sterling, we’re in the countryside, our closest shop is a small Co-Op and our friends are now scattered across the south of England.
I thought I’d miss the convenience and social side of life before kids, and sometimes I do, but life is completely different now, with completely different priorities. When children arrive on the scene, literally nothing else matters. Time is spent playing with them, taking them out and ensuring they thrive in the world we’ve brought them into. For me, I’m happiest when I’m with my wife and children and it really doesn’t matter where we live, where we visit or what we do. It’s just being with them that counts.
There are pubs in the countryside too you know. And that Co-Op - god I love it.
7) Chocolate Alphabites are pretty yummy
I think you’ll agree.
8) The Lion King soundtrack is probably the best record ever
Ok, it’s not quite up there with Revolver or Ziggy, but it’s pretty special. Circle of Life, I Just Can’t Wait to be King, Be Prepared, Can You Feel the Love Tonight and the happiest song ever, Hakuna Matata – arm swinging, finger pointing, air punching, cheesy family-sing-a-long-fest!
Christ, if my 21-year-old self could see me now…
9) I’ll never be a voice coach
I’ve learnt that being a parent you need to let loose, drop any inhibitions and basically act like a wally from the moment you wake until the moment the children go to bed. Since Edie’s birth (and now again with our son Arlo) I’ve always played or read books with ridiculous accents. We play with Edie’s Jellycat bunnies who now all have regional accents and random names: we’ve got Boris who’s squeaky and needy, Brenda the bossy Scouser, Bertie with his very manly deep, Queen’s English and so on. Now with Arlo’s teddies we have Colin the Cow who’s seems to be Welsh/Indian/Geordie, Dale the Dog the cockney hard man and Wayne the Wolves Fan who’s incredibly camp.
The same level of commitment to accents and voices has to apply when reading stories too. The problem is when I get one of the voices wrong, Edie corrects me and we have to start again. It all goes back to those ridiculously amazing memories again. Nothing is forgotten!
10) All of the above is now very much the norm
I knew I’d love being a parent so maybe it’s not unexpected, but when it actually happened, I was hit by a love like no other. And because of the enormity of this love, us parents can now happily sit down for a Paw Patrol sesh on Channel 5, continually get fooled into buying a magazine (just for the cheap toy), scoff Alphabites at breakfast (and sometimes elevenses), belt out Disney songs at the top of our voices and have a weird affection for a battery operated, serenading sheep.
All unexpected, but now all completely normal just because we simply love our children so much.