Friday, 25 February 2011

The wonder of Waybuloo

The righteous, by-the-book parent in me regularly tells me that it is wrong to subject babies to too much television at a young age. Remember, he stresses, The Lancet has no doubt published countless studies in to the detremental effect of allowing little ones to sit infront of the box. So, Mr B, make sure you don't do it, reach for a good book instead, or take the screaming bundle in your arms outside for a breath of fresh air. These are good things...TV, remember, is bad.

Yes, well, the based-in-reality parent within me thinks that's a load of cack for starters!

I am the first person to champion the importance of reading to children and giving them plenty of outdoor time. However, when certain situations arise, and even at four months old, I must admit that television can prove to be the ultimate pacifier for a crabby infant. And one programme in particular does the trick for our tiny telly addict. Ladies and gents, I give you....Waybuloo!

What's more, I am addicted too. Indeed, I have often caught my wife smirking uncontrollably at the sight of her husband and firstborn transfixed to the CBeebies show.

The programme is, essentially, total nonsense. Four computer animated creatures ("Piplings"), float around a staged landscape pretending to be various animals, playing hide and seek ("Peeka") with real children ("Cheebies") and performing  a kind of animated yoga ("YoGo"). Plot lines stretch as far as the amazing discovery of a stone, or perhaps the joy of being a caterpillar for an afternoon. This is not Poirot for children. But it's utterly enchanting, and my son and I love it.

So set your Sky+ Box today. In the meantime, let the debate begin, what is/was the best children's TV programme of all time?

Got to go...it's time for YoGo!

Friday, 18 February 2011

The triple needle nightmare

What must it be like when, at four months old, you're wheeled in to a strange, bright room, confronted with an unfamiliar face, suddenly trouserless and staring down the barrel of three very sharp syringes?

So it was yesterday for Baby B as I took him for the last of his newborn jabs. Delivered in three doses over a 12 week period, I had not been to either of the little chap's first two imunisation appointments. Keen to do my paternal duty I therefore persuaded Mrs B to let me take him on my own this time around.
"It's not nice," she warned beforehand.

"Don't worry sweetheart, we'll be fine," I confidently replied, before heading off to the surgery.

As it transpired, 'it's not nice' was somewhat of an understatement. Whereas the little man had no idea what was coming, I was expecting a short sharp shock for him, and perhaps a few tears. What I wasn't expecting was to have to fight back tears myself!

Holding your baby son in your arms as a stranger inflicts pain on him, even it is for his own benefit, is incredibly hard to watch. I was amazed at how emotional I found the whole experience. Baby B screamed until he went red in the face and I had to gulp back the lump in my throat as I reassured him that everything was all right. The nice, friendly nurse who had greeted us had, in the space of three injections, turned in to an evil bringer of pain.

Thankfully Baby B regained his composure long before I did, calming quickly after being wheeled out of the nasty nurses's office. I, on the other hand, required a strong cup of tea and a sit down.

Thank God we don't have to do that again now until he's one!

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

The Brits: Has the youth of today gone mad?

There was a day - not too long ago, I like to think - when I knew who the cutting edge artists and bands of the modern day were. A day when a quick scan down the track listing of my 'Now 8' double cassette was enough to confirm that I was plugged in to the youth of my day.

Indeed, back then, my telephone directory-sized Walkman would effortlessly blast everything from Huey Lewis and the News, to REM, Oasis and Blur, direct in to my skull. There was no need to watch Top of The Pops or browse Smash Hits for me, I knew what was cool and I made sure I listened to it.

Today, however, things are slightly different.

[Bieber - who?]

As my wife and I sat at home last night, with a bowl of pasta and a cup of tea, watching the Brits on the telly, it became all too clear how hopelessly out of touch we have become. What's more, it was clear that, perhaps as a direct result of having Baby B four months ago, we had morphed in to our own parents, capable of mispronouncing the names of most bands and artists.

"Who on earth is Tinie Tempah?" I said to Mrs B, before respectfully critiquing the double Brit award winning singer's performance as "utter rubbish!"

It was the same for Ceelo Green. Never heard of him. And as for Justin Bieber, since when have toddlers been allowed to become pop stars?

Ask us to name the country's favourite bottom wipes, or the mst popular CBeebies TV show for four-month-olds, and we could tell you in a nanosecond. Ask us to name a single Bieber hit and you've got more chance of seeing James Corden fit in to a regular-size T-shirt.

Anyway, that's enough of a rant for today. I'm off to find my Five Star tape!

Friday, 11 February 2011

Commuter trains and babies - the perfect combination!

Having spent an enjoyable afternoon in central London yesterday - largely failing to get Baby B's buggy through the doors of various galleries and shops - Mrs B and I eventually found ourselves on the platform at Clapham Junction, awaiting the train home.

All was well, Baby B was fast asleep, we had succesfully man-handled our useless buggy (three wheels are not better than four) up and down the platform stairs, we'd aligned ourselves at the front of the waiting hordes and the train was even on time. What could posisbly go wrong?

Two minutes in to the journey, we knew exactly what could go wrong, he was staring up at us and screaming at full volume.

Until that moment I had only ever been on the receiving end of train passenger annoyances; the passenger silently cursing the teenager listening to Dizzee Rascall at full volume on cheap earphones, or the commuter silently wishing that a particularly heavy piece of overhead luggage would fall on the mobile talking businessman.
Yesterday, however, I, or rather we, were the focus of a carriageful of silent hatred. Glancing up from my crying offspring, I could see people turning up stereos, burying themselves in their newspapers and wishing that we would flick the 'mute' switch on our little one to offer them the silence they craved after a hard day at work.

I had sympathy of course, but there was nothing we could do. We were getting off at the next stop and we had no time or space to feed and comfort him.

It was too much for one woman - who for arguement's sake we will call Mrs Insanely-Grumpy - who glanced at me and made sure that I could see her slamming her book shut before getting up from her seat, barging past us and making her way in to the next carriage, to stand for the rest of her journey instead of listening to Baby B.

Mrs I-G was not happy, that was clear.

Nevertheless, as the train pulled in to our station roughly two minutes later, and as we got off (to the collective relief of our fellow passengers) I must admit that it was immensely satisfying to glance in to the adjoining carriage and see Mrs I-G looking thoroughly uncomfortable and seatless.

Baby B, meanwhile, seemingly found his mute switch within seconds of disembarking and, I'd like to think, gave us a mischievious wink as we headed home.

Next up, the tube!

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

The big baby clothes scam!

I read with interest - and mouth ajar in disbelief - recently of a woman who had spent close to £100,000 on clothes and nursery equipment for her as yet unborn baby daughter. Oh, so proud was she of the £1000 babygrows and designer outfits she'd neatly hung in her newly acquired wardrobe (no doubt hand carved from a Giant Redwood that had been cut down by loin-clothed tribesmen to serve the infant storage needs of Mrs Spendalot), that she felt it necessary to share her extravagance with the world.

'Nothing but the best' was clearly her motto as the lady in question set about preparing for her new arrival.

Now, I don't wish to criticise a mother's love for her baby - and this lady clearly loved her bump enough to keep Louis Vuitton afloat by herself - but something does niggle with me when parents spend ridiculous sums on things for their children, for three simple reasons:

1. The children don't know what they're wearing and couldn't care less anyway
2. You can buy, borrow and/or recycle great clothes for next to nothing, and...
3. Even a Christian Dior babygrow can get covered in poo 30 seconds after it's put on!

In my opinion baby snobbery is alive and well in this country, so much so that shopping at Mothercare and Baby Gap would be, to people like our extravagant new mum, akin to sourcing your cooking ingredients from the bins at the back of Netto, instead of Waitrose!

Not the done thing, darling, not the done thing.

However, there is clearly a market for haute couture babywear, and who can blaim the designers? Fifty pence on a tiny bit of material, 10 minutes on a sewing machine and...voila...a £500 outfit! But, remove the label, stick the same item in a Tesco wrapper and you can sell eight of them for a fiver. What a con.

As for Mrs Spendalot, I just hope that fate will one day bring Spendalot Jr and my own son together - ideally at a messy playgroup - where I will take great satisfaction from watching Baby B practise hand printing on the latest Vivienne Westwood infant masterpiece.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Sleep deprivation sussed!

It's dark and I have been woken by the familiar sounds of Baby B snuffling and gearing up for his first scream of the day. I have absolutely no idea what the time is, half of me is hoping that it's 8am and he has slept through the night, the other half - the half with the fuggy head and bloodshot eyes - has a feeling it's a tad earlier.

It's 4.09am, according to the insanely bright clock on our bedside table.

Mrs B and I stir with the kind of enthusiasm we usually reserve for trips to the dentist. Words are not necessary at this time of day and we communciate with a series of grunts, she readies herself for the impending feed and I crawl out from under the addictive warmth of the duvet.

We've had precisely four hours and 12 minutes sleep and now, as Baby B tucks in to an early breakfast, we're awake. Trying desperately to keep quiet, with the lights low to ensure that he can drift straight off to sleep again once full, we're sat up in bed like two zombies.

Forty five minutes, one burp and a nappy change later we turn the lights off for a brief power sleep before the alarm goes off to mark the official start of another working day.

It's a routine that will be familiar to all new parents but, although it still comes as a shock to me, I do believe I have finally got my head around sleep deprivation and the impact it can have on my working day. The simple answer comes in one word, or rather one cup...


Yes, where would we be without the humble cuppa, the life giving leaves, the sweet tasting adrenalin that keeps us going?

Personally, I'd still be in bed!

So today's post is dedicated to the one thing that is keeping me awake. Thank you tea for keeping me in employment.

Now, who's turn is it to put the kettle on? And who ate the last ginger nut?!