We have now passed from 2012, the year that I became a father, into 2013, the first year that I have begun as a father. Henry is now 8.5 months old, crawling, eating mostly what we do, standing, teething and doing a million other things. So what have I learnt?
Firstly, now that he is crawling, it does not matter how quick I am popping out of the room in the time it takes me to do X Henry will have travelled faster than a speeding bullet to the nearest available thing that I do not want him to play with. He is incredible and seems to move quicker when nobody is looking.
Secondly, I have given up being anywhere when I think I should be reasonably able to get there. Rule of thumb - if you think you will be somewhere by Y o'clock - say you'll be there at Y:30.
Thirdly, it is hard to describe how precious his sleep is to me. When he doesn't sleep, guess who else doesn't? (the answer is anybody staying in the same house as him). So Emily and I do anything we can to keep him sleeping at night - obviously we don't induce comas during the day. I have become Olympic standard at the 'up-the-stairs' dash, followed by a Bourne level of spycraft in getting into his bedroom undetected, followed by back patting specifically designed to clear wind yet be a comforting, soothing presence. This may sound amusing, but if I could bottle the successful attempts, I would be a millionaire.
Fourthly, I will merrily do the most moronic things to get him to laugh. I will then video me being a moron and willingly show this film in public because, frankly, I can think of nothing more amazing than Henry giggling. I have also been heartily impressed by my friends' and colleagues' patience with me.
Fifthly, no matter what item of baby equipment you buy, if you have not had a chance to test-drive a friend's version, you will find it irritating and want to replace it within approximately four weeks of buying it. This is particularly true of prams...
Sixthly, the rate that he grows is alarming. I now have six vacuum packed bags of clothes in the loft, some of which he never got to wear because he grew so quick. This rate of growth does not appear to be in any danger of slowing any time soon and no matter how many clothes you think you have, there will be always be some essential item that you never have enough of (ours seems to be vests).
Seventhly, muslin cloths are a close challenger for the wheel in terms of most useful invention ever.
Eighthly, becoming a parent introduces you to a club that you did not know existed before you had a child. We have just seen in the new year with friends that we did not even know at the last new year. Having a child creates a common thread with people that you may never have spoken to previously, and unites you in the tears, jubilation and day-to-day survival that raising a child creates. It is a wonderful club to be a part of and I would recommend it...
...providing, at number 9, you have some dedicated support in your corner. Neither Emily nor I could have done this without each other, and may have had a nervous breakdown if not for our parents and friends. It is impossible to describe how amazing becoming a parent is, yet how utterly unprepared you will be. It is the hardest thing either of us have ever had to do. Yet, it is by far the most incredible.
And, finally, no matter how closely you watch your child, they disappear in front of your eyes, and they are always one step ahead. But it is mightly fun to try and second guess what they will do next - they never fail to surprise, and more often than not, the surprise is delightful. Unless it's a nappy. That is rarely pleasant.
Happy new year everybody!