Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Patroclus and I attend our first ante-natal class.

I have been lied to by every sitcom and mid-range comedy film I have ever seen. There are no plastic models of uteruses, and we do not sit in a circle and practice breathing, while I try not to faint at faint at stories about tearing, and stitches and various bodily functions that frankly don't crop up in games of D&D all that often unless you've done something really wrong.

Instead, the nice lady talks gently about how the needs of the mother must be addressed as well as the needs of the baby. Yawn. I fight the urge to stand up and tell everyone how I got into scriptwriting, which is what I've had to do every time I've been in a room with plastic chairs, bottles of water and more than five people in the past five years. At various points I try to meet the gaze of the only other male parental unit in the room, and go 'cuh', but he's busy leaning forward, frowning studiously, while the nice lady goes 'blah blah blah' in the background. He's not observing what's going on around him at all! His blog post will be rubbish. I am already the winner!

Patroclus gently nudges my foot (ow) and I realise we are being urged to discuss Our Fears About Baby. Well, my main fear that we are moving into a parallel world where the Definite Article has unaccountably vanished seems to have come true without anyone else noticing. I consider asking the 'What if Baby is really really ugly?' for a laugh, but decide not to in the end. In the end I come with something about dropping Baby (argh, now I'm doing it) on a tiled floor, just to keep the meeting moving. I can't remember what the reassuring answer was. Anyway, I have big goalkeeper's hands, it'll probably be fine.

Now, says the nice lady, let's talk about all the positive things. What have you all been looking forward to?

Patroclus and I exchange a look, and it suddenly occurs to both of us that we have been expecting nothing but unrelenting horror for the forseeable future, with the best possible result being that after eighteen years or so, Offspring learns to treat us with a sort of affectionate disdain.

Every one else is looking too shy to speak. Dammit, I could have cleaned up, if I could think of any positive aspect of baby having. Patroclus and I rack our brains. Nothing.

Well, says the nice lady (we lean forward, expectantly) sometimes parents learn to take things at a slower pace. You often find yourself singing little songs to yourself! And making a little commentary to yourself as you go about the house. And when Baby is a little older, a simple five minute trip down the road can take half an hour, as you have to stop and make a story about every leaf and snail you pass.

That appears to be it. Patroclus and I slump back in our chairs. These are all things we do anyway. Bugger.

Finally, the nice lady talks about to juggle both aspects of parenting. She seems to be under the impression that all mothers stay at home, while all fathers go to work! Fortunately, ours is a more modern relationship, where Patroclus works from home, while I sit around the house and turn down work, and play games on the X-Box, and sometimes fall asleep in the afternoon.

This is going to be easy!

On the way out, I sing the Nokia theme song, and stop to look at a snail.

25 comments:

Jane Perrone, Horticultural blog said...

They save all the gruesome stuff til later.

In my antenatal class they got all the men to change nappies filled with pesto, mustard and marmite (don't worry, you'll understand why before too long) on dolls. It was hilarious.

And how we laughed as one chap tried to figure out what the thing he was holding was (a nipple inverter ...)

On the "how your life changes when you have a baby" front. Time for a hollow laugh ... no really, it's unbelievably great, honest, but please, I beg you, sleep like you've never slept before, now, while there's still time.

Smat said...

they're breaking you in gently - the plastic uterus and general grimness come later on in the course. Have they started calling you Dad and Mum yet? That's freaky - I kept wondering why my parents had turned up.

james henry said...

Yeah, the gory stuff is next week apparently. I won't be there, as I have a meeting to go to (and a party - don't look at me like that, Patroclus said it was okay to go).

Mmmm, pesto...

*has a nap*

Tim Footman said...

Our Fears About Baby...

That when we take it to the stone circle at the first full moon, the high priestess tells us it's too ugly to offer as a sacrifice to The Dark One, so I have to give up my collection of Pixies bootlegs instead.

Tim Footman said...

(We're not having a baby, btw. That's just what my fear would be if we were.)

(In fact, I haven't got that many Pixies bootlegs, either.)

Marsha said...

This reminds me of Jack Dee's complaint that all Health Visitors talk like Tonto.

Making up songs and singing and chatting to yourself as you go around the house is the business - and with a child about the place you get fewer strange looks while doing it! And, once your child is older, you can replace some of the songs with quotes from your favourite TV shows (shouldn't be a problem!) and the three of you can fall about laughing to the bemusement of all around you. Works for us every time.

Sylvia said...

Ah, memories..... Have they tried the "and Dad must eat the placenta afterwards, fried with sage and onions" line? Nearly convinced one Dad - I still laugh about it now.

Believe me, there are no benefits to having children. I should know, I have three of the buggers.

And yes, sleep. Just sleep as much as you can now. Although I have to say, at the risk of being beaten with an old crusty filled nappy by some sleep deprived soul, mine were great sleepers.

Happy days.....

Fritzi said...

That reminds me of that brilliant episode of Coupling, when they all end up at the ante-natal class.

My English wasn't very good when I first watched it and the English 'ante-' sounds exactly like 'anti-' pronounced in German. Five minutes did I spend in slightly disgusted bewilderment until somewhere, mercifully, a penny dropped.

Boz said...

A "Nipple inverter"???

*wonders what his nipples would look like upside down*

Nicole said...

The thing to be thankful that your last name isn't Gosselin: http://tlc.discovery.com/tv/jon-and-kate/jon-and-kate.html. (I have no idea if they have this show over there.)

Nicole said...

*to be thankful _for is_...

cello said...

Just practice making lots of sandwiches. And keep well away from the Reservoir Dogs end of proceedings.

Later on, they'll tell you to write a birth plan, and to collect your favourite CDs for labour and buy various massaging substances just so they can piss themselves laughing when you stagger in to the Maternity Ward with all these things.

chatterbox said...

Great things about parenting: You can dance really badly at any time, including the supermarket queue, and blame the kiddies need for entertainment.
Handy hint: Don't bother freezing lots of meals 'for speedy refuelling when Baby is asleep'. I fell for that one - by the time it's defrosted Baby will be awake again.

Fat Roland said...

The big goalkeeper would like his hands back, please.

llewtrah said...

Have they taught you how to breathe yet? My mum had been breathing successfully for 30 years without any special traingin, but they still wanted to teach her how to breathe.

And will you get to wear a sympathy pregnancy belly?

patroclus said...

I've somehow managed to convince myself that it won't be *that* different from owning a cat.

I may be in for a bit of a shock.

james henry said...

I've spent a number of years working on my own pregancy sympathy belly thanks. Just didn't know what to call it before.

Derek said...

At some point the nice lady will pick up a biro and place a finger down a fifth of its length, and she will smile and say: "This is 9 centimetres." The women will then turn pale, and the men will thank God/Allah/Steve that they are actually men and not women.

Imo said...

Seriously don't even think about singing to your baby out in public, you will only attract the 'earth mother brigade' and all normal parents who haven't let sprog take over their entire lives will avoid you like the plague.

I can remember at one of only two anti-natal classes I ever attended, desperately hiding in the background when the highly charged subject of breast v bottle came up. All three of mine have survived on Aptamil powder and they seem to be sane!

Belladona said...

Don't worry, if Baby is really, really ugly, just swap name tags with a more attractive one. No-one will ever know. Mwhahaha.

Jayne said...

My friend's parents told her they'd been visiting someone in hospital and on the way out were shown a baby that was so ugly nobody wanted her. So they bought her home out of pity.

Yup, they fuck you up...

rivergirlie said...

soon the soothing lady will start calling you and patroclus 'dad' and 'mum'. most disturbing!
we ate nothing but pizza for the first ... ooh ... twelve years.

(btw - that poem, the larkin - it was a misprint. it's supposed to read: 'they tuck you up, your mum and dad')

janey33 said...

Put all your breakables on tall shelves, hide the remote controls, they don't work when they're covered in dribble. Stock up on After Eights, they're good for keeping you awake after 2 hours sleep. And don't worry, the ugliest babies grow up into the best-looking kids!

Boz said...

"They may not eiderdown, but they duvet."

Maud said...

Don't worry, even if you do have a hideous baby, you won't know. Parents can never tell.