I learnt a little while back that my cousin, my oldest friend, is about to become a father for the first time. I saw him a few weeks ago and he looked calm, composed and confident. He clearly has no idea what is about to happen.
There are literally hundreds of gems of wisdom, nuggets of experience I could pass onto him but I think I did quite well in holding back. I remember when I was an expectant father, all of my mates who had got there before me would bore me for hours in the pub, on the phone, on the train, over the e-mail about the wonderful lessons they had learnt and what I should and shouldn’t do. One would tell me that swaddling was the only way to get baby to sleep, whilst another advocated rocking on Daddy’s tummy. I figure that we are all different, our children are all different and so we all have to work it out for ourselves.
However, there is one piece of advice, one tome of secret knowledge that I felt honour bound to share with Sunil: He is about to become the invisible man.
When baby is born, the whole world and their next door neighbour will swarm around you, your family and your house and no-one, I mean absolutely no-one, gives a hoot about Dad. Top of the list is, of course baby who rightly gets the starring role. Mum, then gets the best supporting actress award as everyone clucks around her and asks how “it” was. Next up come the grandparents who are enormously proud and are irrepressible on saying things like,” She’s got aunty Maude’s eyes.”
I can guarantee that at no point will anyone turn around to Dad and say, “How are you? Did you sleep well? Do your breasts feel sore?”
So, the only piece of advice I will give my cousin at this stage is: If you want to rob a bank just march into the nearest Barclays, follow the manager into the vault and take everything in sight because the day after you become a Dad you will be completely invisible. You won’t even appear on Crimewatch because even CCTV cameras can’t see a new Dad. Indeed, my sources tell me that the Northrop Grumman B2 Stealth Bomber technology is actually based on genes extracted from a bewildered man the day after his wife gave birth to his firstborn.
Unfortunately, the fact is that this invisibility doesn’t just last a few days. Even four years on, every time I talk to a mate I haven’t seen in some time the first question is,” How are the kids?”. The second question is, “How is Clare?” The third question is “Did you see the rugby / cricket/ football last week?”
Not that I’m complaining though. Because I’m a bit of a simple soul I quite like talking about rugby, football and cricket. Much easier than talking about how I am actually doing…