Sunday, 16 December 2012

The right amount of worry

I have this friend who’s recently become a dad. Our kids are about the same age and I guess we’ve got an awful lot in common, even down to the way our kids were dragged into the world (bonding over forceps conjures an interesting mental image, but I digress!)

The thing is with this dude is that he’s a worrier; part of me thinks that his adventures are more somber because he worries, and part of me thinks that maybe it’s the other way round... he worries because he’s one of those unfortunate individuals to whom bad things happen as a matter of course.

Take our attitudes to caring for a baby. My personal philosophy is that a baby will survive most things with a minimal of fuss, and this is borne out by the fact that whilst I’ve been dizzy and out of action for three days with a seasonal bug, the net effect of the same bug on the baby is that he’s learnt to enjoy gurgling snot-bubbles of various hues out of his nose. Meanwhile my friend panics that the child will somehow contract Ebola from a swallow-borne coconut (an African swallow obviously!) and when looking at a kid from his perspective the child suddenly appears far less robust.

The problem I often face is when dealing with questions. Recently we’ve had the following exchanges and I feel my responses haven’t really lived up to his angst-driven expectations:

“My baby wakes me up every night. He grunts whilst breast feeding!”
“He probably wont pull more than once at Glastonbury!”
“My baby shows signs of autism.”
“Well, looks like you’re holidaying in Vegas in matching suits!”
“I don’t have any time to relax.”
“Let me show you how to cradle a sleeping baby and play xbox at the same time!”

This is the usual pattern of our exchanges, and I often play the voice-of-reason in his more pathetic metro-sexual moments. The last exchange has been rather more worrying and my usual humour doesn’t seem to be cutting it... he said:

“I walked into the room, and the baby was laughing but my wife was in tears, what should I do?”
To which I wanted to reply:
“I saw this in a movie once. Get an exorcist, the baby’s clearly possessed!”

On reflection I really wasn’t the best person to go to for advice in this kind of situation. If I ever encountered a moment like that with my own wife and child, I would probably check the room for sharp objects and then try to make up my mind whether the wife or demon-child posed more of a threat to my person and sanity before calling the ghost busters. For once my somewhat lumbering friend got it right, he gave everyone a big hug, told them he loved them and is just keeping a quiet eye on them both.

It would appear that when it comes to dealing with upset and depression in a family being more of a man means being less of a lad. I think I learnt something and would like to throw the blog open to comments from anyone feeling they’re shouldering it all some days, because you’re not alone.


DAD