I hung up. I’d have to go in. Work had called and something urgent had come up. The magic sponge of restarting the PC obviously hadn’t worked…
I had taken a ‘day off’ to mind Thing 1 who was then only 6 months old. My wife was away with the girls (hence the day off), my Mum was at golf which only left my newly retired Dad. I phoned him. He was in Lidl filling his trolley with sh*** that he didn’t need (the flippers and riding gear are still hanging up in the shed).
These stores are a daytime Mecca for retirees; You walk in aimless, walk out feeling like MacGyver.
Result, Dad could be over in 30 mins. I fed Thing 1, quickly got changed and bang on schedule the doorbell rang. “You’re a lifesaver”, I said as I opened the door to be presented with newly purchased wellies for a child who wouldn’t learn to walk for another 8 months. Thing 1 grew into them two years later.
I had taken a ‘day off’ to mind Thing 1 who was then only 6 months old.
I’ll be honest, my Dad wouldn’t have been my first choice to mind Thing 1. Not that he’s incapable – quite the opposite as it turns out now – but he’s old school. Like many men of his generation, he was the breadwinner, the worker, not the stay-at-homer.
He provided for the family; brought us on trips, played with all of us, cheered from the sidelines, showed us how to do things, make things, mend things etc. But a homemaker and babysitter he was not.
I told him that I’d only be a couple of hours and I showed him where everything was and suggested that he take Thing 1 for a walk in the buggy as he’d most likely ‘conk’ out after just being fed. As I looked at my Dad I sensed the trepidation. He’d always been fine holding the baby and playing with him but minding a child on your own, especially one that young is a daunting enough task for anyone. “It’ll be grand” (I tend to say this a lot). His biggest fear was the nappy change. I’ll be honest it’s probably still my biggest fear. Not necessarily changing it but the ‘Kinder Surprise’ element of it…never knowing exactly what you might find inside.
Dad had never changed one. “It’ll be grand” I said. “I’ve just changed him so he should be good, but if not here’s how to do it”. I demonstrated quickly and bailed.
I left it an hour and phoned him. They were back from their walk but there was panic in his voice. Thing 1 was crying in the background, Dad was talking to Mum on Skype via my laptop (a job in itself) and he was telling me that all was OK and he was in the process of changing Thing 1’s nappy.
This wasn’t a three person job (or even a two person job) so I hung up.
I got home a couple of hours later. What greeted me was a trembling wreck but a smiling face none the less. Dad wasn’t bad either. He was chuffed with himself, and rightly so. He had successfully babysat, made a coffee, eaten most of the Jaffa Cakes and had mastered the art of holding down two conversations at once while changing his first nappy.
“You can do it again so”, I said. Never have I seen a grown man grab a coat and exit a building as fast as he did that day.
He’s not aware of this (yet) but after he left I picked up Thing 1 to make sure that he still had all his fingers and toes. Something didn’t look right and something didn’t feel right. I held Thing 1 in my outstretched arms and noticed that he had a somewhat bloated midriff.
I stripped him down to see what the problem was. In the panic of changing the nappy and holding down the two conversations, Dad aka. Mr Multitasker had somehow missed that there were two adhesive strips on the nappy, one at each side. On not seeing this he proceeded to pull one strip all the way over to the other side of the nappy as if fitting the baby with a corset. Don’t ask me how the strip didn’t break and don’t ask me how he managed to do it but he did. It was like something from a Rowan Atkinson script.
Poor Thing 1 must have thought he was an extra on Downton Abbey. The poor sod had been this way for a couple of hours. MacGyver me arse, MacBean more like…
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Ps. No kids were harmed in the making of this story.