The Cato Reset


Kitty is now four months old and, as yet, is not on fire. So we’re calling that a parenting win. But! There have been some interesting (read: oh Lord, please bring me the sweet release of death) lessons along the way that at the time made me feel very far from being a winner.

Take, for example, the moment when, having successfully settled Kitty to sleep in her first weeks, I took the dog for a walk and allowed myself a moment to think ‘you know, I think I’ve got the hang of this.’ Naturally, I returned to a storm of unstoppable screaming and tears so cataclysmic that at one point I’m sure I saw Tom Hanks sobbing as a basketball drifted out of reach. Lesson learned: hubris has teeth, and it will savage you.

Or the moment when things were ticking along OK, so my brain figured it would be a good idea to jokingly tell a mournful, exhausted, hormone-soaked, post-caesarean Dr T that her low mood meant Kitty was effectively being mothered by Eeyore. What a catastrophically moronic thing to say. I deserved the world of pain that followed. Lesson learned: SHUT THE FUCK UP. FOREVER.

These are examples of what I’m calling the Cato Reset. Or maybe the Solo Safety Switch. I’m not sure yet.

It’s basically life’s little way of guarding against complacency by gleefully pulling the rug from under you every time you start thinking ‘hey, nice rug. I like how it feels between my toes’. I can see the evolutionary merit in this: complacent parents might otherwise take their eyes off their offspring, at which point said offspring will be eaten by wolverines.

So it’s good to throw the odd spanner in the works to keep them on their toes, in much the same way as Clouseau needs Cato to attack him at random, to keep his edge. Or Luke needs Han’s growled “Great, kid. Don’t get cocky,” to remind him that shooting one TIE fighter isn’t all that. Hence the Cato Reset / Solo Safety Switch.

It happened again yesterday. Last weekend, I managed to keep Kitty asleep in her sling for a couple of hours. When she woke, I reached behind me, grabbed her bottle from my backpack, fed her in the sling as we walked through town, she settled down. Boom. Ninja dad.

So yesterday when she’d been asleep for a few hours in the sling again and woke up grumbling, I did the same thing. It worked, but not as well. So I took her out of the sling. (Cato crept up behind me.) Bounced her a little. (Cato tensed.) Thought her leggings and nappy might need readjusting but didn’t bother because, hey, I’m a ninja and we scorn such things. (Cato pounced.)

At which point she smiled and detonated a nappy-bursting explosion of hot mustard poo gore all over my hands, the sling, my jeans, my Cons [what does a dad look like now, motherfucker?], the car park, herself. Oh yeah, we were at a neighbourhood street party sort of thing, so she did this in front of many, many witnesses. (Cato repeatedly slammed my head against the fridge.)

Voila: the Cato Reset.

The only thing to do at that point was laugh, wipe up as best we could and totter home to better manage the situation. (Cato was wrestled to the ground and subdued.) Another lesson learned, another day where Kitty didn’t catch fire. Great, kid. Don’t get cocky.

(Cato waits.)

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