‘I awake Pappa, Moomin’s awake, I awake, time to wake up, I awake Pappa’
The light starts getting too strong for the blackout blinds and Little Bear climbs into our bed and starts patting my head. I know that any movement will be an admission of being conscious, so I stay perfectly still, and naïvely believe that he will give up after a few minutes and let me go back to sleep. I slowly open one eye.
‘Now you awake Pappa! I awake! Weekabix! You awake Pappa! Mamma look! Pappa awake!’ and the wake up dance and jump on Pappa begins.
Getting out the door with a toddler is never easy. But when they’ve moved firmly into the ‘boundary testing stage’ at 2 and a half, it becomes all the more difficult.
Nursery is a bit of a blind spot for parents. We spend every day following these tiny people around, monitoring their every nap, meal and nappy change, and getting enrolled into each tower building session and every repeat of the Hungry Caterpillar. Then, suddenly, we delegate this all to someone else. It’s like going into heart surgery. You’re suddenly trusting someone else to look after something that’s really quite important to you, and you’re not able to watch what’s going on when you’re doing it. I want to know what’s going on during this blind-spot.
A year ago last week, Little Bear and I went into shared parental leave together. 7 months, 2 new back-pains and a toddler later, I emerged from full-time care of my little troll. Going back to work was a culture shock. It’s like you’ve been on a fast and slightly dangerous roller-coaster, before stepping off and walking along the mundane pavement feeling giddy. For the first week at least, you feel a little shell shocked. Every few minutes or unusual noise in the office, you look around for your little guy in panic because you can’t see him, only to remember that it’s because he’s several kilometres away at nursery.
I won’t lie, I was very excited about the prospect of my first full night sleep in a hotel, with no baby interruptions. Unfortunately, due to the psychological trauma we had faced over the last few weeks, I woke up every hour startled, looking for a crying Little Bear. I probably felt more exhausted when I got back to London than when I set out… Since then, each time I’m abroad for work, I’ve been faced with mixed feelings: I’ve enjoyed the break, but also really missed my buddies (baby and his mamma) back at home...
I'm Dave, dad of Little Bear. Also known as 'Pappa' to the little man as we try and bring out his Swedish roots