Approaching the birth of baby number 2, we were constantly told ‘you’ll find it easier this time because you’ve done it all before’. But fellow parents of more than one child (try not to spit out your now-cold drink), we all know, a second baby is in NO WAY any easier than the first. Why? Because you now have two of these little creatures. Two whole human beings to keep alive.
Living amidst what is now a battleground for attention, the eldest will moan, cry, kick, scream and even spit until you put the baby down.
And yes, this is all new behaviour which I think she’d been secretly storing up, ready to unleash upon us when the new arrival came. Even though we spent so much time in the run up to Cohen being born teaching Esmé all about the baby and what we need to do to look after him, now that it’s not a game, it’s not fun!
Ordinary tasks which were previously minor challenges with one toddler in tow, have now been upgraded to near impossible. For example, you feel like a brew, you’re tired, you’re hungry, you’re sick of hearing yourself say ‘NO don’t do that to your little brother!’ This might just get you through the next couple of hours, but here’s a very true rendition of how that particular task goes for me…
Baby’s asleep, perfect. You’ve stealthily placed him into his downstairs cot – because you know you can’t put him upstairs because by the time you’ve tried to open up the stair gate with your little finger and elbow, baby in arms, without the toddler noticing and bursting past you simultaneously shouting ‘DADA DADA’, she’ll have woken him up. So you’ve taken a quick sharp owl like 180° turn of the head to check there’s no toddler noticing what you’re doing, baby down, you give yourself the all clear and proceed to the kitchen.
You’re in the kitchen now, trying to find your ‘Best Dad’ mug and out the corner of your eye you spot a Spaghetti Hoop drop from the handle of your mug into the bottom of the kitchen sink – like a bead of sweat dripping from Tom Cruise’s head in Mission Impossible. This mug’s your favourite so you must retrieve it! You start to disassemble the mountain of pots stacked on said mug like some kind of weird Kerplunk meets Buckaroo meets Mousetrap type game all rolled into one. Now there’s sweat beading off you as you make your move, with a few swear words muttered under your breath, the mug is steadily retrieved, rinsed off quietly and now landed in front of the kettle.
Kettle filled whilst you daydream about being on Dragons Den with your new invention of a silent tap, mouth watering now, glance over at the baby and with huge confidence flick the switch on. And here’s where we basically won the lottery because this baby loves white noise. Phew!
Finally (baby still asleep, obviously), you have your not so well brewed brew and embark upon unwrapping the tightly cling filmed choccy digestives that ironically you told your other half off about for not wrapping them up properly – that’ll teach you!
The empty cuddle chair in sight, the Sky remote sat upon it, covered with the guts of the Jammy Dodgers from the crap breakfast you tried to have until the toddler intercepted, but luckily it’s not been shoved out of the letter box this time. You have a little dare to wonder about what you’re going to watch on one of the 18 on demand services you’re paying way too much for, but at least it’s not brightly coloured or involves an annoyingly overactive presenter dressed like a 12-year-old. You’re getting ever-closer to the cuddle chair – the one we promised ourselves we wouldn’t let the kid sit on which has now become Mr Dinosaur’s bed and no matter what, you cannot sit there!
Then suddenly, in the wake of a dropped piece of chalk (this could also be mistaken for wooden Ikea food) sounds the footsteps of a little monster, it gets faster and louder, accompanied with a high pitched vocal which cannot be determined yet if happy or sad. Your entire body tenses and your heart has literally moved to set up camp in your throat. You make a split decision to launch your tea onto the nearest high flat surface and ram the entire biscuit into your mouth, because let’s face it, this is going to be your only meal of the day and it’s not worth letting the toddler clap eyes on it.
And as if through the residual steam bellowing down from underneath the cupboards comes the Esmé monster. Similar to a ‘Stars In Their Eyes’ entrance, at full throttle with arms forward, hands open, eyes wide and a gurning teethy expression on her face, she runs smack bang into the make shift baby bed, slamming down her hands next to the (now awake and about to blow) baby. She smirks at me as if to assure me that this was no accident then begins jumping up and down pointing at the Sky menu (because this is as far as you got) chanting ‘Off! Dinosaur! OFF OFF’, which we know in our house translates to ‘turn off your crappy grown up programme dear daddy, I’d like to watch something with dinosaurs’.
You comply because now you have to tend to the shell shocked poor little brother who has no idea what’s just happened and will surely scream the place down within seconds. Toddler now wedged comfortably into your spot, you are once again vertical with baby wedged up under your chin which is where he’ll remain for his protection from nearly being squished. You glance over at your ice cold tea which you’re certain is singing Lionel Richies ‘Hello’ to you from across the room. Another one for the tea graveyard. And so with a deep sigh, you pour it down the drain.
So to all those of you out there who told me it would be easy this time, please come round and make me a brew.