Being a new dad has its challenges. One of the most irritating is the comments you’ll get from, well, everyone as you go about your daily business as a dad.
It may surprise some to learn that being a new father is not all beer and skittles. Even the most angelic and eagerly anticipated child is guaranteed to ruin your life — or, at least, the life you had pre-child. This is a big adjustment, and impossible to fully anticipate.
(Also, unless you’re intentionally trying to get diabetes, beer and Skittles is a pretty weird diet.)
Coping with the new parent’s sudden sleeplessness, sexlessness, cash outlay, omnipresent in-laws and extra responsibility is full-on. Especially when you’re also on a learning curve that looks like a topographical map of the Himalayas.
So it’s no surprise that you may be easily irritated by hearing the same things over and over again from people observing your dadding.
Don’t worry — it’s not just you. A recent British survey of 2000 fathers by Channel Mum found that, shock-horror, dads are infuriated by unsolicited critiques. “A third of fathers will hear some form of patronising parenting comment up to five times a week,” they found, and “these comments really begin to grate once a child reaches two years of age.”
If you are preparing for fatherhood, get ready for phrases like the below. If you’re already a dad, er … just try not to punch anyone. Here are the 15 most infuriating things you’ll hear (and some possible responses).
1. “You don’t do it like that, here I’ll show you.”
I’ve literally done almost nothing else but this for the past three months/18 months/two years. There’s a reason I’m doing it like this, and it’s probably because we’ve tried doing it your way and the child loses its tiny f*cking mind.
2. “You’re not bad at changing nappies, well done!”
Listen, I do this literally six times a day.
3. “You’ve trained her up well, Dad.”
Yes, trying to teach her not to be a little shit is what we spend most of our time doing. But she’s sitting in a sandpit pushing a digger, it’s not rocket surgery.
4. “Where’s Mum today?”
She was on Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 so your guess is as good as mine. Yes, the one that disappeared in 2014. How old is the child? Almost one, why do you ask?
5. “Look who is doing the babysitting today.”
No, this is not my child, I found him in a food court. I’ll probably leave him in the street after.
6. “He doesn’t look much like you?”
Again, I found him in a food court. He actually looks quite a bit like the guy I assume was his dad.
7. “It’s so nice to see a hands-on dad.”
Listen, there are dozens of us. Dozens! Just in this one kiddie play park at midday on a Tuesday, it’s not the 1950s. If I realise halfway through a meeting that my shirt’s been decorated with an 8 inch arc of sour-smelling breast milk chunder, the reaction I get from the other blokes in the room is piss-taking sympathy, not aren’t-you-under-the-thumb derision. All dads are hands-on dads now.
8. “How cute! Did your wife choose his outfit?”
No. I am perfectly capable of selecting matching pants and jumper to a wriggling toddler. And, actually, I’m far better at putting them on him because my comparatively giant hands mean I can clamp him to the change table with one mitt, whereas his mum looks like she’s losing a capoeira battle to a fighty midget. Thanks.
9. “Now that you’re never having sex again, haha…”
Thank you for this startling piece of insight, you’ve really tapped into a rich new vein of unexplored comedy. Look, this is either true — in which case, it could be a sore point — or not. And if it’s not, I’d rather not discuss boning my post-birth partner with you, Gavin’s brother’s mate I just met in the pub.
10. “Decided on a name yet? [Person’s own name] has a nice ring to it!”
Ha. Full disclosure: I used to say this to new parents all the time before I had a kid, and some of the nicest non-parents and even actual parents still trot it out like it’s a piece of Seinfeldian wit. It’s not.
11. “Are you upset that you had a girl?”
Yes, but I’m hoping to save enough for her dowry that I can get rid of her as soon as she’s 12, which is obviously the earliest you can marry her off now that we’re living in 12th century England.
12. “You’re just such a big softie.”
Ha! Yeah, in public. [Whispering conspiratorially] We take away her meals if she wets herself at home — it’s how children learn.
13. “Ha, there’s always one! Never mind, you’re here now.”
Yes, I’m late. No, it’s not because as a father I’m incapable of bundling the kid into the car in a timely manner — or, at least, it’s not like his mum can do it any faster. His mum changes clothes 17 times to go to work on a weekday and she wears a goddamn uniform. And don’t give me that bullshit about men not being able to multi-task, either.
14. “Look out when she’s a teenager, she’ll have all the boys after her!”
Now, that’s just creepy. WTF?
15. “Oh, poor bubba! If you ask Dad nicely, maybe you can have this lollipop.”
No, he can’t have a lollipop, we’ve just popped down to the shops at 6.30pm because we forgot the basil. But thanks for making me deny him, now the drive home is going to go down like there’s a live action Hieronymus Bosch painting in the back seat of the Festiva. And why do you walk around with pockets full of lollipops anyway?