Presents. Not really my forte. If you received any of the following items from me for your wedding, please accept my belated apologies: fluffy blanket/bog oak birds/tool box/hammock/photo of a mountain/what the fuck is that? do you know what it is? Me neither/picnic hamper/lamp etc.
Ditto if you went out with me for five years and received a one-way ticket to East Midlands Airport with Ryanair as a Christmas present. For £2.99 (inc. tax), I thought it would be a laugh to recreate that magical scene when someone lights up on receiving a surprise plane ticket. Until they open it. I still think it’s funny when I remember how you let that wan from your class pluck your eyebrows a week later. It will always be one step removed from a blowjob in my world of intimacy.
And, if you’re related to me, please pretend you didn’t hear me saying blowjob, and cast your mind back to a few clangers that awaited you under the tree from me over the years. Ah, yes. Remember enthusiastically ripping open the paper to find your spanking new copy of….Bunreacht na hEireann? We’ll say no more about it, or the brew-your-own-beer-kits. But, I stand proudly by providing you all with a copy of this seminal, critically acclaimed, tour de force:
Not only can you do everything it says on the cover, but you can also deliver a baby in the back of a taxi, defuse a bomb, and escape a shoot-out; even if it’s me doing the shooting, which some of you continually try to provoke me into doing.
Since Becoming a Parent™, I’ve noticed danger lurks round every corner. Other parents. My parents. My reflection in the mirror. Daddy Pig. Playgrounds. Cake shops. Parenting forums. Life insurance policies. Savings accounts. Justin from Cbeebies. It’s a fucking jungle out there, which is why I’ve got a quick preview from my soon-to-be-published Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: The Early Years.
1. Hide all the junk in the shopping trolley
It’s going well. One more aisle to load up from. Your wee one is placated by the chocolate biscuit she’s helped herself to from the stack behind her. That coordination. Those motor skills. Thata girl. You’re rounding the corner into the ice-cream area and you clock the fruit teeming from the basket matching the “vibrant” colours worn by the local Mother Earth. Check behind you for the all clear and do a quick five-point turn. Whizz your way in the opposite direction whilst simultaneously lashing a few healthier products on top of the biscuits. Good luck with trying to replace the biscuit in the child’s paw with a baton carrot. The screaming will only draw attention to yourself so best avoid that and get the fuck out of there. In extreme instances, like when your hair is having a particularly anti-gravity day, feel free to hide the basket in the cereal aisle and return to it later. To avoid any repeat trauma, just do your shopping in the neighbouring town.
2. Perform CPR on someone who has just learned you didn’t baptise your child
“But…what school will they go to?”
It’s highly likely this person is already having difficulties breathing at this stage. Be sure to stand back, so when they do keel over you don’t risk an injury from the fall. Diall 999 and put the body into the recovery position. Only perform CPR if you’re adequately trained. There’s probably little more you could’ve done. It’s the biggest killer in Ireland today along with obesity and hypocrisy.
3. Get away with bringing your child to care wearing the same thing 3 days in a row
When you arrive at the crèche, unzip your child’s coat and exclaim aloud “Oh silly Daddy for not putting on your nice clean dress”
4. Combat the gaze of a fellow diner in the restaurant burrowing holes in your head while your child has a canary
To overcome the gaze, you must become the gaze. You weren’t the staring match champion of 1986 for no reason. As you engage in this visual duel, lift up the bottle with one hand and liberally apply the stuff you swore blind you wouldn’t have next or near your child onto his or her plate: ketchup. It’s like Calpol, only it goes with chips, and grapes (apparently).
5. Distract attention from your child pointing out your “belly” to everyone that visits
Explain it’s all the running around after a toddler and that you’ve hardly any time to eat so the rest of you has practically withered away to nothing. Point to your wrists and ankles and demonstrate by showing how you can now wrap you hand around them.
Other advice in the book: How to combat the embarrassment of more-or-less telling your parents you had sex when announcing a pregnancy; how to conduct your own guardian speed-dating event; how to strenuously judge parents on-line while strenuously appearing not to.
Out soon in every woeful bargain basket.