An update from the dog about the baby

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We call this the ‘look of extreme reproachfulness’

So, the dog has – to our miserable horror – managed to get hold of a Starwriter from somewhere (1997, I guess) and hammered out another letter. She’s still not fully on board with the baby.

Sorry about the language.

Butler, scullery maid,

What in the shitbarnacled name of almighty holy fuck? It MOVES? It fucking MOVES?

This is beyond a joke now. At first I thought your bizarre naked puppy was defective because it didn’t move, but it turns out that was one of its saving graces. Sure, it was an unrelenting squealing catastrofuck, but at least I knew where it was.

But then you went and taught it to fucking crawl.

Oh, sure, it was all laughs and smiles for you as it woke up crying every hour through the night, trying to inch forwards and possessed by a feverish St Vitus rocking motion. I can only assume they were tears of mirth and joy for all those weeks, because I couldn’t be sure over the puppy’s wailing, and besides, I had my own whimpering to take care of.

Now, a word about that. I’ve taken great pains to develop a new half-whine half-howl in response to the incessant caterwauling. You’re always bleating on about the puppy’s new achievements (I’m still reeling from the fact that you gave it a round of applause yesterday because it managed a sip of fucking water), but what’s my reward for carefully crafting a fresh vocalisation that I can crank out in sync with the puppy’s crying – at high volume – even when I’m to all intents and purposes asleep? Some claps and goofy smiles? Nope. You locked me in the kitchen, you titbiscuits.

Anyway. Now you’re all giddy because it moves and you’re encouraging it to roam all over the place without so much as harness or collar on. Can I just point out that the single biggest investment of time you’ve ever made with me is in insisting that I learn to fucking ‘stay’? Hours, we spent, as I patiently walked back over to you to explain that I’m a hunting terrier and not interested in sitting still, until you finally went out and bought treats of an acceptable level; and now you’re praising that thing for moving?

Where is the consistency? All the training books I got you stress consistency above all else. That’s why I so consistently place my chew toy – you know, the rolling one with the sharp gnawed edges – right under your feet when your back is turned.

Look, a case in point: because you love it when the puppy moves, I figured you didn’t need me to ‘stay’ any more. But when the butler was collapsing the stroller outside the front door in the rain and I didn’t ‘stay’ in the hall like he asked and wandered out onto the main road for a look around, he got all shouty and shaky and had to do that thing where he takes deep breaths, once his hands had stopped quivering. See my problem? Consistency.

So, I’ve tried a few disciplinary actions of late to remind you that the puppy needs to remain still at all times, instead of clambering over the bed to poke me in the eye as it shrieks “BOG!”:

  • First, there was the protest wee on the playmat, but you only went and washed it once you’d both taken your heads out of your hands and stopped making that low moaning sound. On a related note, what does ‘rehoming’ mean?

  • Then I faked that illness where I pretended to be all listless and off my food. I thought taking me to the vet and spending hundreds of pounds on needless blood tests would snap you out of it, but you’re obviously as thick as labradors (and Jesus, those guys are simpletons). You didn’t even twig when I perked up the second the vet had seen me and the nice receptionist gave me the fancy vet treats. I’m doing this for your own good, you know.

  • I’ll admit that the expensive new dog pillow that takes up the entirety of one of the sofas is cosy, but you needn’t think I’m snoozing on that while the puppy crawls. I need to know where it is at all times, and the best vantage point is directly under your feet, which is where I’m going to stay until you make it sit on its own pillow, or at least buy it its own puppy crate. Yes, that includes when you’re frantically sterilising bottles while the puppy wails.

Have any of these done the trick so far? Have they bollocks. So I’ve had to resort to writing again with a simple demand: teach it to stay. It needs to be still, be silent, and get its hellish little hand out of my ear.

However, I’m nothing if not merciful, so there is one thing you can do to make your lives better. If you will agree to keep offering it solid food, I will agree not to chew its fingers the next time it crawls over and pokes me. While it’s strapped into that tall chair thing throwing delicious pasta at me, we can have a truce. No, I don’t care if I get fat. Pasta. Fucking NOW.

Now that I’ve got my Starwriter you can expect more regular updates from me. You clearly need all the help you can get. Up next: how not to fuck up my walks, you utter tossclumps.

Incandescently,

Mistress Dog

ps./ I’ll have some of those rice cakes, too.

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The Distracted Dad

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It’s been a few weeks since I posted anything, and this is why…

When you’re about to become a parent, friends and relatives offer well-meaning thoughts and advice. Stuff about the amount of sleep you can expect (“None! AHAHAHAHAHA,” was a common cackle), the time you’ll have together as a couple (“None! AHAHAHAHAHA), the help with nappies they might offer (“None! AHAHA-” you get the idea).

Now, some of those predictions came to pass when Kitty arrived, and some didn’t. But the thing I’ve been grappling with for the last few weeks is one that no-one mentioned, yet it’s something that everyone I speak to seems to recognise, and it’s this:

When a baby enters your life, you enter a permanent state of distraction.

Before Kitty arrived, at any given point my brain could be relied upon to be thinking about one of these things:

  • Should I drink one more coffee?

  • How ace would it be if I was Batman?

  • What would I do if I met Bruce Springsteen?

It didn’t matter that I’ve known the answers for years. (They go: of course, I don’t feel nearly worriedconfident enough; really ace; cry and cry and cry.) The mulling of them was part of my circadian rhythm. That, and a lingering regret about the ad-libs I made in the school play in 1987 (thanks, brain).

Post-Kitty, it goes like this:

  • Should I drink one more laundry?

  • How ace would it be if horsey horsey don’t you stop?

  • What would I do if I met Bruce Wayne? No, wait, Banner. No, Dickinson. Ah, crap.

Remember when you used to play Lemmings / Worms back in the day, and occasionally you’d forget to stop one of them tunnelling, and when you looked back the screen was a mess of tumbling, stumbling critters and gaps? That’s the inside of my head. I flit from half-completed thought to the next one, barely alighting on them as I go. My accounts are a hilarious shambles (lucky I’m not self-empl…dammit). I keep shifting our as-yet unpacked boxes from the house move round and round and round in a vain attempt to impose order.

That’s just internally. Externally, in group conversations I’m only ever partly there. If Kitty is within earshot, or just the same building, I’m focusing about nine percent of my attention on other people, and that’s when I’m really, really trying. My sentences sometimes grind to a halt because the thing I was aiming for at the end of them got lost somewhere along the way when I heard her cry, or when the dog tried to lick her face for the 873rd time. If she’s not there, I still barely get above 50 percent.

It’s not that I don’t want to be present. I do. I want to talk about the state of the world, keep the house and my business affairs in order, have discussions. Do some work. I really, really want to think about meeting Springsteen. But thoughts just get shunted aside with no chance for completion. Actually thinking about, planning and getting the shopping done online felt like a Herculean achievement.

It’s not tiredness, because we do OK with that side of things. It’s bandwidth. My boy brain simply can’t process the added baby info, so it gives up on other stuff in order to accommodate it. That’s why Kitty is clean, fed, has sweet-smelling laundry and sterilised dummies, and why I can tell you about eight month milestones, yet I can barely finish conversations, have emails left unanswered from the Spring and keep looking at the thing in the box in the fridge and never do anything about it. There’s no mental processing capacity left since so much of it is running the ‘Holy shit we need to keep this tiny human alive’ program.

Of course, I have solution to this distraction, and it’s to simply