We have a great trip planned for Christmas. Vegas, Fort Lauderdale, New Year at South Beach in Miami, a couple of days in Costa Rica. And half way through this great adventure, sitting on a park bench in South Beach Miami, I find out I am going to be a father.
It’s the 1st January 2010, and I’m feeling pretty sorry for myself after Hogmanay, filled with the sort of self-loathing that follows a serious bevvy. Then a couple passes with a little kid in a pram.
“I’m even looking forward to having a kid, I know I don’t say it or talk about it that often, but I really am.”
“Well that’s just as well, because I’m pregnant.”
“Oh my God, really?! Oh my God. How long have you known?”
“Just since yesterday, I didn’t tell you … I didn’t want to ruin last night.”
“Oh my God.” and so on…
What a way to start the decade.
I must admit I shed a few tears. Hung over, I’m prone to the odd tear even watching Sunday movies, so this comes as no surprise to Erin either.
“Oh my God.”
I’m still feeling shit, and dreadfully hung over although now I’m glowing inside, elated. It is an unusual mixture of emotional high, and severe physical discomfort. Not one I would recommend, but there you go—going to be a daddy. I think I was actually better prepared when we had that false alarm. Life is full of surprises. Erin, of course, is over the moon. Happy that we can actually get pregnant and relieved, but also nervous, about what’s ahead.
Although I know nothing about babies right now, I’ve been around enough pregnant women to know that you should probably wait for three months before telling anyone. The very next day however, the decision is taken out of our hands.
We visit our friends, Fraser and Jane, who own a rafting business in a tiny wee place called Turrialba, in Costa Rica.
Fraser picks us up at the airport and tells us about the two days of rafting and kayaking he has planned, then he throws in, “Oh, you’re not pregnant by the way, are you? Because if you are you shouldn’t do any of this.”
I just look at Erin and we both smile. “Actually, yeah, I am,” she says.
And there it is, it’s out there.
As soon as we arrive Fraser and Jane have to attend to the guests, so they hand us wee Archie (and their mutt) and tell us to get on with it.
So not much more than 24 hours after finding out we’re going to be parents—we’re saddled with a screaming kid, dog, pram, the works.
And I must say, as a first attempt at parenting… it is a disaster. We do alright for ten seconds or so. Manage to make it as far as the patio door—however trying to open the latch is where it all starts to go wrong. Ten seconds.
The latch is, well let’s just politely say it’s a real pain in the ass and by the time I’ve figured it out, the wee man starts to cry. Fair enough, he’s probably just frustrated with this idiot his father has landed him with, a fool who can’t even open a door.
When I eventually manage it, we begin herding all the gear, Archie and the mutt through the gate, and in the middle of the kerfuffle a bag rolls off into the bushes. Then the wee fella really starts to cry. Jesus.
I pick him up, Erin heads after the dog who has run away by now, and as I try to shake Archie to get him to quiet down, I turn around to see how Erin’s getting on. Now that my back’s turned, the pram, of course, rolls off the fucking path, spilling the shopping (including tonight’s dinner and the contents of Erin’s wallet) all over the ground. Jesus Christ! How difficult can things get in under a minute?
When we do, eventually, manage to corral the mutt into the house along with all the shopping, the pram, and the wee man’s welly boots that have fallen of by now, we sit down and look at each other. Phew. Sigh. Fucking hell.
It’s not over yet though. Wee Archie is still yelling at the top of his lungs. So I continue to shoogle him, completely unaware of what to do to stop the racket, and then he remembers he’s dealing with the guy who can’t even open a freakin’ door, so he decides to give me a hand.
Archie points at his room. Excellent, let’s go to your room then wee man. Now he’s pointing at his cot. Great, this’ll be easy.
“Hey Erin this guy knows exactly what he wants, he wants to go to bed!”
Into the cot he goes, now he’s pointing at his feet, off with the socks, more pointing, up with the blanket. Next he directs me to pull up the guardrail so he can’t fall out, then the mosquito net comes down, finally off goes the light and I back myself into the living room.
“Jesus, Erin, that was unbelievable, I’ve never been ordered around like that before in my life. What a clever little fucker!”
As all of this is going on the crying slows, and finally stops. So I’ve obviously done the right thing. Fraser walks in about five minutes later and asks where Archie is.
“I put him to bed, it was unreal, he ordered me around like you wouldn’t believe, even got me to take of his freaking socks!”
“In his bed! Jesus, it’s far too early for his bed, he’ll be up all night if you put him to bed now!”
Oh. Lesson number one. Babies are sneaky little fuckers.
I didn’t know anyone with children when my wife was expecting. So I’d sit in front of my computer at the end of the day and squeeze my life out onto the keys. This is a little part of what I wrote, and if you’re thinking about having a kid, it’s a wee taster of what might be ahead.