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By trade I am a journalist with a background in current affairs, culture, health and fitness, travel and high profile interviews. I also own and run an outdoor fitness business aimed at people that hate gyms and bootcamps (www.spartanfitnesslondon.co.uk). Most importantly though, I am on Shared Parental Leave from May 31 to October 3. Everyday from 0730 to 1800 I will be in sole charge of a real and completely awesome baby girl.

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Tuesday, 19 July 2016

DAY 39-41 - Fell Off Wagon And A Couple Of Mistakes...

I HAD hoped that would dodge the whirlwind, but the inevitable happened... I got swamped. Snowed under with the baby stuff and the actual baby needing looking after. So I missed quite a few days of blog posts. That's the bad news. But the good news is that me being out of time is the result of A-bomb, others and me being busy, which means there's lots to discuss. I'm talking serious stuff like an auntie (my sister) landing from Australia, a family holiday to Bognor, vile mothers calling their 4-year-old an F-ing Wan*$r, Pear-squelching... oh and me forgetting to take a post-yoga feed for my child.

So... going back a few Fridays we had the usual breakfast-yoga routine but I also needed pack as much as possible for the afternoon car departure to Butlins (Bognor), where were heading for a few days to see my family (Mum, Dad, two brothers, one brother's fiance and one sister). Nevertheless, not everything could be pre-packed because the awkward A-bomb required much of the stuff for a simple trip to baby yoga... pram, baby bag, bottle, toys etc. The likes of the travel cot, play-mat, clothes, food, formula had been squeezed into various bags but I knew there was still much to do. The plan was to finish my yoga business at 1130, feed The Lady with the bottle I had already made up, get home by 1215, finish packing then get on the road to coincide with my passenger's nap time (starts at 1300-1330).

All was well; breakfast (sausage sandwich and flat white coffee at www.tota-restaurant.co.uk) was delicious and yoga (http://northcotebaby.com/) was excellent – but tough now M'Lady weighs in at Hefty on the Lard Scale. I just needed get the feed done and get my skates on to get home. After the hour of exercise the babies are always very hungry and thirsty so an immediate feed is required. Cue: jaw hits floor and hand hits self in the face. I had forgotten the milk! In the rush to pack and leave promptly (to get to my own lovely breakfast) I had failed to pick up the expertly prepared bottle. Oops. I instantly felt that this was the worst thing I'd done during my stint as the parent-in-charge... simply forgetting the means to feed your baby is not a good thing. Being the legend she is though, A-bomb didn't even murmur she just gave me a nod as if to say "very well Father, just use those short legs of yours to run faster than you ever have to deliver me to my white juice". And so I did. Sure, she nearly sucked the teet from the bottle's seal but there were no tears.

Things were thrown in the car and we pulled away bang on 1330. Perfect.

The plan was for my passenger to sleep for most if not all of the 1 hour 45-minute journey to set her up nicely for the evening an to ensure she wasn't agitated in a hot car-seat. That wasn't overly ambitious because like many babies (and me), for her, motion promotes sleep. Imagine my anger and despair then when I heard "READY TO SING YOUR ABCs????!!!" blurt out from the back seat. In my hasty packing I had handed A-bomb the "soft and fluffy cow" and I'd left it with her in the car seat. This was an epic #DADFAIL because while driving  I couldn't reach back to snatch the cow and the blasted thing kept going off everytime M'Lady flinched... "THE BABY LIKES MILK!!! TIME TO COUNT!!! I'M A SOFT AN FLUFFY COW, HUG ME LOVE ME ALL DAY LONG!!!" Other drivers on the A3 would have though I was having a seizure, given my helpless convulsions at the noise and my inability to stop them. Eventually the torture stopped. It was a miracle that the girl didn't wake up. Once again she played a blinder.

She slept the whole way and we met the clan, including Marcia, freshly landed from Sydney Australia, where lives. It was so great to see her and although she's been inundated with pictures and videos it probably shocked her to see how much the munchbunch has grown since she last saw her in November, when M'lady was brand new.

Unfortunately the Milk Lady couldn't join us after work because she had been double booked at a wedding of a one of her good friends, also over from Australia. Sad times. 

Everyone had the obligatory cuddle, squeeze of the play-dough legs and aggressive bounces on knees then we had a bite to eat and a few drinks. Then it dawned on me that the apartment did not have a bath and that the baby girl definitely needed a bath. Yet another #Fail from me. TO THE SINK SHE MUST GO, EE AYE EE AYE EE AYE OOH, was the song of the evening. It was far from ideal for the lumpy 7.5-month-old but she loved it. All of her bath mates were even closer than usual and everyone was watching her. Somehow I got away with this error too. My luck was running strong.

Dinner was eaten and the lovely girl slept like a dream.

The next day I decided that if possible ACJC must show off our swim moves (I feel that I am part of the show so I should be credited) so we headed to the resort's water centre to see what it offered. All we needed was a small area of deep-ish flat water. We required no arm bands and no shallow baby pool... we weren't there to mess around. Exiting the changing rooms and entering the pool area was like walking into a watery Armageddon with sirens going off, loudspeakers wailing and high-pressured hoses blasting into people as they attempted to meander between areas. Anyway, after fighting through the hellish scenario we found a suitable spot and A-bomb made it clear that she would be ignoring the loud noises, which was good of her. With the eager audience watching we went through our repertoire of splashes, breathing exercises, dives, underwater spins, jelly-on-the plate, grand-old-duke-of-yorks and more. Needless to say it was a great success and The Lady is now expected to be at the next Olympics. Alongside the intense swimming show, which A-bomb absolutely loved, some calm fun was had with everyone having a hold of the superstar. While this was happening I noticed a little scenario playing out with another family (not with us) a metres away. Picture the scene: two women (sisters or friends) in their late 20s/early 30s standing in the water chatting. A 4-5-year-old, who was either a daughter or a much younger sister of the older pair, walked over to them and splashes one of the women, in a playful manner. I saw this and thought nothing of it (It was no more aggressive than what M'lady was doing to us). One of the women grabbed the youngster's arm and shouted in her face: "DON'T F-ING SPLASH ME YOU F-ING WAN&$R". Despite the verbal abuse the little girl didn't really flinch, which suggested to me that this was the standard of conversation she expected. It was eye-opening to say the least. Perhaps I should have suggested that the women use a different approach to speaking to infants, or anyone, but my focus was on making sure my own child didn't drown. It really did make me think though... there are many, many different ways to go about parenting and dealing with young people and they can all be effective. However at no point, ever, will a little splash from a 4-5-year-old warrant the perpetrator to be showered with language that would be deemed excessive at a Millwall versus Chelsea match. 

During the rest of the stay at Butlins there were some real highlights: On being drafted in as sous chef to toast a crumpet for A-bizzle my Dad trod on a half-eaten slice of pear which squelched in between in his toes and caused the exclamation (in jest) of "dirty cow, chucking her food on the floor!); the revelation that my younger brother (26) and sister (31) still operate on the same nap and feeding schedule as my baby daughter; the never-ending white noise humming from Bultin's arcade games (reminiscent of the Pleasure Island fairground when it all goes a bit dark in Pinnochio) serve as good sleep inducers for the Lady; and it turned out that as long as the full sleep routine was followed after bath time A-bomb was happy to sleep in the pram so that she could join us in restaurants.

There were some forgetful moments from me and a few undesirable specimens on site but all in all it was a fantastic time away, which could only have been improved by the Milk Lady being there.






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