We’re currently in the midst of a bunch of firsts. The first firsts technically happen during the first year because, by their nature, a baby is doing everything for the first time but the first thing you realise is that for the first year all of the firsts just happen by default, the real firsts are the firsts that happen around the first birthday when everything seems so much more interactive.
It’s not just her first birthday, which came with my first attempt at making a birthday cake, closely followed by Jill’s first emergency birthday cake rescue job, it’s other children’s first birthday parties too. I went to my first ever other-kid’s celebration as the dad of a party-goer and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
It’s one of those clichés that once you have kids you immediately sacrifice your weekends to the gods of soft-play but I don’t see the issue with that. I currently spend most Saturdays watching Scunthorpe United, a children’s shindig with ball pools and cushioned slides is like Woodstock, Live Aid and that Sex Pistols gig at the Manchester Lesser Free Trade Hall that everyone in the world pretends they were at, in comparison.
It also happened to have a supreme buffet (the birthday party, I can’t vouch for the Pistols gig), which is generally a good start.
Elsa has started to form her first words, adding a vague approximation of the ‘balloon’ to the classic ‘dog’. This is a joy and also a huge concern. All silly noises, unsavoury turns of phrase and, of course, swear words now certainly have to be filtered out of everyday conversation lest she copies them. Of course, not a problem for me, obviously. Ahem.
Some parents recommend a swear jar to keep you conscious of your language which I imagine might be a fairly scary, physical record of my potty mouth. Still, it’s probably a better method of saving than sticking it in a high street bank at the moment.
The worst first I’ve experienced so far though has been taking on the responsibility of a certain aspect of parenting that they never warn you about. Your parents know all about it, they’ve been there, they’ve done it, they’ve been subjected to the almighty pressure that it entails but they never let on.
It’s entirely up to you to discover how hard you have to concentrate when you’re in charge of the music for a game of pass the parcel. I’m presuming that no small children are reading this but, if they are, look away now, there must be an episode of Zingzillas to watch or something. Are they gone? Good…
Trying to remember which kids have won and which still have their turn to come is a terrifying prospect – get it right and no one notices, get it wrong and ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE. The only person who should be allowed to perform this duty is Kofi Annan – that’s the high level diplomacy we’re talking about here.
Of course, if he’s got any sense, he’ll give it the widest possible birth. He’s been in the midst of some of the world’s most gruesome conflicts but nothing…NOTHING can prepare you for the tears of a toddler who has missed out on an orange plastic maraca. Trust me.