THERE are a few milestone landmarks in bringing up your children.
Obviously there’s the birth, but I try not to dwell too much on that.
The pain, emotion and anguish, before an overwhelming outpouring of relief is as life-affirming as it is plain freaky .
I understand giving birth can be quite an emotional and physical ordeal for the mother too. Apparently, it can smart a bit. But I’ve only my wife’s word on that. Yeah, whatever.
She wasn’t in my shoes, so can’t comprehend what us men have to go through (will they ever, eh guys?).
After the birth it’s a hail of nappies, baby sick and sleepless nights until the next landmark moment.
In our case it was probably baby’s first words, an incredibly memorable episode.
Although, in our house, not quite so memorable. My wife and I claim to remember our Bradley’s first words vividly.
He said “Dadda.” But only in my version of events. My wife maintains his first words were “Mamma.” We agree to differ.
Sleep deprivation probably had a serious effect on our recollections of those years.
I’m sure the screaming and crying was not as loud or as long as I remember it.
Looking back, I’m sure I didn’t scream. I just raised my voice to say things like “It’s your turn for the night-time feed” at my wife.
And I didn’t so much cry all night, as just sob into my pillow at regular intervals.
Next up in the landmark moments was the boy’s first steps.
Universally accepted as the first real game-changer in the early years. It marks the time that the world’s familiar everyday objects transform into vicious toddler mantraps.
As a parent you become ‘point aware’. Everywhere you look there’s a table corner or pointy door handle trying to lure your child’s soft head towards it.
Personally, my breakthrough, life-changing moment wasn’t my child’s first words or first steps.
The bunting came out when our youngest could wipe his own backside for the first time.
That is the freedom William Wallace was shouting about.
The moment your child can use toilet paper successfully opens up a whole new poo-free world.
Everything else pales into insignificance. Reading their first words, drawing a picture of ‘Daddy,’ playing for the school team … so what?
Nothing competes with being able to watch a movie without at some point having to answer that call from your boy to immediately rush to the bogs to wipe his backside.
I mention this purely because child-rearing landmarks have been coming thick and fast recently. Two stick out.
One was my 13-year-old son revealing his feet are the same size as mine. Size 9.
Great, I thought, I can wear his shoes. Unfortunately, 13-year-olds don’t buy brown leather brogues.
The best bet was a pair of Nike trainers he bought. Promising, until he brought them home. Bright yellow! Well, I could wear them at a push. Within a month he’d lost one of them.
When he went to get new ones, his feet had grown again. He’s a size 10 now. And all I’ve got to show for it is one yellow trainer!
The next landmark moment he produced really made my eyes pop out. He bought me a shirt with a seven-inch collar. No, not really. That’s a joke.
The new milestone moment was a physical one. I was telling him how I used to carry him to bed every night when he was a baby.
“I reckon I could pick you up now, dad,” he said. And he did. Picked my up and carried me through the house, without breaking sweat.
Now that’s a landmark moment I wasn’t expecting!
“Impressed?” he asked.
To be fair, I was gobsmacked.
“Not bad,” I told him. “If you can lift me, how come you can’t pick your underpants up off your bedroom floor and carry them into the washing basket?”
Now that’s a landmark the whole house would celebrate. But we’re not holding our breath … only our noses.
l Got any child-rearing milestones that you don’t find in the handbooks? Send them to Richard on email to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet it to him @DickyO. Alternatively, write to him at the usual address.