Holding your baby brings peace (and, eventually, one freakishly larger arm on your favoured side, like Rafael Nadal). That one free arm is all you’ll have for the next couple of years. Learn fast.
The drummer from Def Leppard famously re-learned how to drum after crashing his Corvette into a field near Sheffield in 1984. It was a slow process, particularly since Rick Allen’s left arm was severed in the crash, then sewn back on, then cut off again — for good. For a drummer, this is a real bummer.
It’s Allen you can hear banging away on “Pour Some Sugar On Me”, courtesy of a specially made kit. He was ranked seventh on Gigwise of the greatest drummers of all time! Leppard fans call him ‘the God of Thunder’!
(Although the latter point maybe because when he woke in in hospital, face mashed by going through the windscreen, Allen said he was “really Thor”.)
The point is that Allen got good at re-learning to do something one handed, and he only really, really wanted to. You don’t have a choice. As a new dad, one-handed activities will be on the rise generally. And yes, while failure to stick with the one you perfected during puberty is what got you into this mess, your skillset is about to expand.
And not always into areas you’d anticipated. Here’s nine things you’ll need to learn to do one-handed:
1. Using toilet paper
Look, I understand that discussion on this area is generally distasteful so let’s get it out of the way. ‘Scrunch or fold’ goes out the window when the no-time-limit me-time you once enjoyed in the smallest room in the house is a distant memory. First, you can no longer close the toilet door for privacy.
For some reason, if your kid can’t watch you pooing, they lose their minds and tantrum wildly outside the door. While this is a fun fact you’ll one day be able to drop into their 21st birthday speech, it’s not as much fun in the meantime.
So you’ll soon learn to wipe with one hand, while using the other to hold your child at arm’s length, like Greg Inglis giving a ‘don’t argue’ to a small, pink opposition centre who is holding a teddy. Babies suck at boundaries.
2. Opening beer
The impressive beer-opening skills of misspent teenage years are an unexpected long-term investment here — teeth, eye socket, under the forearm, whatever works.
You’ll eventually buy one of those magnetic fridge bottle openers, then do an ungainly squat — still balancing the tot — to pick up the bottle top/choking hazard it dropped on the lino to roll under the counter. It’s enough to drive a craft beer snob back to twist-tops.
3. Doing up your fly
Banish any button fly jeans to the bottom drawer and — if possible — embrace stretch-waist trackies and shorts. New fatherhood isn’t a time you should be trying to “look stylish as hell”, no matter what sort of weird $1200 jacket John Legend’s stylist is trying to shill in Esquire. Zips are doable, but you obviously need to be careful. Shaking takes a little more time, too. Eventually, you may decide it’s easier just to sit. [See #1].
4. Buttering toast
Or preparing anything at benchtop level, really, above their eyeline. This is a mysterious kingdom that your kid will insist upon surveying from the perch of your other arm, desperately grasping for things like carving knives and cups of tea or glassware.
Even if you manage to convince a lump of straight-from-the-fridge butter to stick onto your knife, you’ll then only nudge the dry toast around the benchtop like an air hockey puck. Stick at it. And buy margarine.
5. Cleaning up smashed glass
So, once in a while, while you’re preparing food one-handed, your kid will grab something — probably not a carving knife, because you keep that shit front-of-mind, but often a tumbler, tea mug, or wine glass.
This will then shatter on the floor, meaning you now have to clean up the slivered, razor-sharp remnants while still holding the kid aloft, because what, the floor is now covered in razor sharp remnants. And you can’t use the dustpan either.
6. Juggling hot coffee
The once breezy pre-birth dash up to your local café to bring home a couple of flat whites has become a challenge worthy of It’s A Knockout, or at least Japanese television.
7. Folding washing
You weren’t very good at it before. Except now your Plan A (stuffing it into the linen cupboard, wet and unfolded, like a sodden tissue into a bloody nostril) is “unacceptable” to the mother of your child. So is Plan B (never wash anything), and Plan C (bonfire on nature strip). Sheets, in particular, are a sort of cubist nightmare.
8. Driving badly
Clearly, allowing yourself to be distracted while driving is unsafe, and driving one-handed is ill-advised at the best of times. However, no matter how much you plan against it, you will at least once find yourself unable to pull over (say in traffic, or on a freeway, or driving through a very long tunnel, and need to deal with the kid who is strapped into the seat in the back.
And the kid has spat their dummy, or thrown their toy car, or their sippy cup, or Baby Mum-Mum, into the dark, deep, cluttered footwell. Also, the baby is wailing like Jimmy Barnes with his head caught in a gate. Find that lost thing on the floor is like trying to reach randomly into the ocean and pull out MH370. It’s stressful, but you’ve gotta try, for the good of all involved. Drive carefully.
It’s tricky, because you learned to type with two hands, but typing while holding a baby in the other hand is doable, even as that baby tries to mash the keyysboahh. kkkkkkKKllllll;;l;lm;/knbliyf.bkjv w.bkvhj.
READ MORE FROM BEN SMITHURST:
- ‘Why do babies get zits?’ The 30 most Googled baby questions answered
- Six things I wish I’d known when becoming a new dad
- 10 things you don’t need to buy when you become a dad