MagicMum’s Daddy blogger Colm O’ Regan on… reaching the big 1

MagicMum’s daddy blogger Colm ‘O Regan is celebrating a milestone: the first birthday of his daughter Ruby – and it’s fair to say he's pretty proud he’s helped get her this far.

In his newest post he ruminates on what this milestone means for him, touching on Ruby’s skilful walking, the struggle to watch his swearwords around her, and that strange – seriously what’s that about? – way we go about describing a baby’s age…

“Effectively we’ve passed the probation.”

It felt neat. “How old is she now?” “She’s one!” or “A little over a year.” We’re back to months now but it was nice to get to use year.

The quoting of the baby’s age runs through the list of time-related words.

The first one is the time of birth, sent out in a text to the brand new or renewed grandmothers. Then there is “6 days” on the first outing in a pram for the initial oohing and aahing. We moved to “weeks” up until about three months because “fourteen/seventeen/twenty-three weeks” sounded a bit odd – as if she was being held captive. And you can’t say “100 days” because people think your baby is a new president and is going to build a giant wall. It’ll be months up as far as eighteen, then nearly two, two and a half and so on – all the way up to “OLD ENOUGH TO HAVE MORE SENSE AND WHATNDENAMEAGOD WERE YOU DOING UP AT THE ABANDONED FACTORY WITH ALL THEM TOWNIES ANYWAY?”

“She might as well move out. We are useless.”

But for now, we’re congratulating ourselves on getting to the big 1.0. Effectively we’ve passed the probation. She can’t sack us as easily and I think we get some sort of pension.  I can definitely see how she is giving us a bit more responsibility now that she trusts us. For example, we are allowed to feed Teddy and Dolly, her two personal assistants.

And then there’s the walking. It is extraordinary watching a baby walk. There is a look of triumph and also exhilarated panic in their eyes as if they are saying “Are you SEEING this too? Can you BELIEVE this sh*t? How do I stop?”

The moment where she raises herself up onto her feet for the first time without leaning on the IKEA stepper-thingy? It’s like the bit in 2001: A Space Odyssey when the monkey picks up the bone. We now know that nothing will ever be the same again. She might as well move out. We are useless.

“Now that she walks a bit, she’s “all whatevs” about being tired.”

In the meantime, while she is getting her things together before heading off to Stoneybatter, there are still some basic bits of parenting she needs help with, like getting tired enough to sleep. Walking can disrupt sleep, because it requires less energy than crawling. I can testify to that. Forget silly races through mud with names like “TUFF MUDDER” and “THE WORST RACE IN THE WORLD” and “DO YOU WANT A SLAP IN THE FACE”, if you want to burn calories, crawl around the floor with a one year-old who doesn’t seem to have a plan.

But now that she walks a bit, she’s “all whatevs” about being tired so we have to get her to walk around for no reason. We could put her on Ireland’s Fittest Families because they always seem to take the long way through the bog when there’s a perfectly good path there, but that’s not an option.

So we’ve had to get her to move up and down the floor for no reason. One method – and we’re not proud of this – is essentially a game of fetch, involving a jar of raisins slid along the floor. She likes raisins. We indicate that there may be raisins if she walks between us after the slide of the jar. In the end we give her a few raisins despite their fart-multiplier effects. Otherwise she’ll never trust us again.

“90% of the words that I thought were Daddy are either Doggy or Dolly or That.”

Walking indoors isn’t enough. The walking has brought up another challenge. Dog dirt.

I’ll put this plainly. If you have a dog and knowingly don’t pick up after it, you are a scumbag. And if you put the dirt in a little bag and then leave the bag around, you are just a different type of scumbag. As I toddle along with my daughter, replying in baby talk to her cooing, but steering her away from others’ bad-personness, in my mind I am a vigilante, slowly piecing together information on the offenders before appearing at their window shoving dog poo into the pocket on their pyjamas. “This smell will be your epitaph,” I growl at them. No I don’t know what that means either.

She’s started saying a few words. 90% of the words that I thought were Daddy are either Doggy or Dolly or That but she has definitely acknowledged my presence. With that has come the need to watch our own language. It’s tough. I’m a great believer in effective use of certain Anglo-Saxon words whose meaning are rooted in toilets and procreation. These are words that have stood the test of time, for a reason. SUGAR! and FRUITBUCKET! and CANDEREL! are not. If we’re truly honest with ourselves, the main reason for not swearing is the fear of her trying out her new words in polite society and making us look bad.

“Effing and blinding as well as she effs some fella blind.”

But once we’ve censored ourselves, language comes in via different angles. Gangster rap is out of the question now. Female gangster rappers – they’re the worst. Azealia Banks might be a role model to girls trying to break through in a chauvinistic world but we can’t have our daughter phonetically repeating the lyrics to ‘212’ at the breastfeeding meetup (google them – the lyrics, not the breastfeeding meetups; actually google them too). And genre-bending ‘FKA Twigs’ is no better. Effing and blinding as well as she effs some fella blind.

The real revelation of a one year old walking around is the realisation that this is a human being just wandering around your house and they’re here to stay. With their own motives and strange traditions. For a while she insisted we dip our hands in a glass of water and then put our hands in our mouth and make a slurping noise. That’s enough Channel 4 for her, I can tell you.

One year down, the-rest-of-our-lives-minus-one-year to go.

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