Impending fatherhood became slightly more real (and it’s still almost totally not sinking in as yet) when we spent an hour or so putting together the crib, moses basket (though that took little actual skill) and a bouncy chair for our child. Even though the crib was pretty much idiot-proof to put together I still felt manly and virile constructing the sleeping place for my child. I was providing and showing my practical skills and why I would be a brilliant dad. I said to my wife that it was a shame in a way that it was so easy to build, you just screwed in the screws for the base and then attached the four sides together with bolts and then put the base into the construction. But at least there was no way I could fuck it up.
Except when it was done and being placed in position I wondered why the sides had little holes bored into them at the top, which seemed a bit dangerous and I realised that I’d put both the sides on upside down (though don’t know what the holes are for). So I had to take it apart and do it the right way. Sorry kid, your dad’s an idiot, but again, what symbolism this will prove to be for my parenting style. I will try my very best, wanting to make my child proud, screw it up and then try the opposite and be satisfied with that.
I have to say that even though this was a very simple job that only an idiot could screw up, the instructions that came with it were inadequate. Just some confusing badly drawn pictures and arrows. I know the people who put these things together are assuming some kind of competence from the purchaser, but written instructions would only take up about three lines and one of them could be - The only real mistake you could make is to put the sides on upside down, so don’t do that. I was impressed that I had, by chance, got both sides on upside down. Only a real idiot could do that.
I attached a musical mobile to the cot (and only got one bit of it the wrong way round the first time) and turned the little winder on the musical box at the top and it played its tinny little tune. For a second my own infancy and the infancy of my child collided and I thought I might well up. For about five seconds that music made this whole fantasy adventure seem very real. We are having a baby. But then the music stopped and I had to get on with the next job.
The baby bouncer chair was a bit more complex, but because the instructions were much clearer and bits were marked left and right I managed to get that together without too much trouble. By now it just felt like I was doing complicated 3D jigsaws and I wasn’t any longer associating any of the stuff with the baby that will be using these things and puking and pooing on them in about 10 weeks time. I am in such denial that I am not sure even having the baby here will really convince me that this is happening. Or maybe I will only accept that I am a dad as that magical music box plays its tune.
I have already spent a lot of money and time on this tiny idiot who I know is not going to appreciate any of my hard work and will probably even claim to not even remember anything about having cots or prams or enjoying being in a slightly bouncy seat. I already resent its sense of entitlement and by the time it is 40 and can maybe start to appreciate all the things I’ve done for it I will be dead, so that makes my resentment all the stronger.
But mainly I felt great to be doing something for my child. How strange it is to be in love with someone that you’ve never really met and can’t quite believe exists and is in such a strange circumstance at the moment if you think about if for five seconds. I am already twisted around its tiny little finger and I am happy to be there. I am not much good with my hands, my baby, but I hope I can do better with my heart.