It’s tougher than I thought it would be. With Little Bear starting nursery today, our time together on parental leave is just about to be over. I’ve dropped him off and of course I was there for hours trying to convince his watery eyes that it was ok to let go of Pappa, and that whilst this was the end of an era for both of us, we’ll still be together, and life will go on… No. Save about ten seconds of being clingy to Pappa, he discovered some balls to test in the corner and then promptly forgot about me. I hung around like a loser harbouring some unrequited love for about 10 minutes (9 minutes too long from his perspective), and then slowly crept out when he wasn’t looking.
‘I’ll be in the café next door’ I tell his carers ‘He needs his next milk at 11 and should nap before then. You might have to hold him till he falls asleep if he’s sad. He only really likes food if it has tomato in, or is some sort of curry [like a true Londoner, Pappa sniffs a proud tear away]. Ring me if he gets sad, I’ll come back. This is very frightening… for him’
His main carer smiles and nods, clearly thinking that she’s seen all this faffing before. It’s quite clear Little Bear was bored with Pappa, and is loving the chance to steal some new toys from other babies and poke new faces. Pappa is clearly coping less well.
Well, it feels like only the other day his alien shaped newborn form was squeaking for food every 50 minutes through the night, that I got really excited when he rolled over for the first time, when he took his first crawl or whispered ‘Pappa’ in my ear like it was some sort of conspiracy. Oh Little Bear, our days together, just you and me, are over…
Well, not quite. I’m weak you see, so he’s going to nursery for 3 days a week, and I’m going back to work only part-time. ‘He’s very little’ I tell myself ‘he wont be able to cope being away from me for the whole week, so he can only manage a few days’. Of course he would probably be fine, but I’m not admitting that. My wife and I had planned to cut our working weeks to 4 days each, but then she got promoted with a nice salary bump. Given the fact she’s smarter than me, it seemed best if I took on any career risk and she continues to subsidise my cappuccino habit and his penchant for weekday soft play.
So here we are on a new start. I’ll be picking him up early today, and I’m expecting an update at 12 to see how he’s doing. But next week I go back to work and start to juggle my babycare with working. Wish us luck!
I'm Dave, dad of Little Bear. Also known as 'Pappa' to the little man as we try and bring out his Swedish roots