The boy is one already. I say ‘already’ because even though it feels like a year has passed since he was born, I’ve yet to recover from the shock of his actually being born a year ago.
In the days leading up to his birthday the missus and I did the ‘this time last year’ thing as we followed the varying stations to his arrival; the contractions, the taxi, labour, the wait, the epidural, the panic and finally his being born. So on his actual birthday I found myself staring at him as if he’d just arrived again, but obviously not in the same way. This weirdness (which is obscure enough to demand a page of its own, but I can’t be arsed) is compounded by his suddenly not looking like a ‘a baby’ anymore. He’s got teeth, loads of hair and he’s aware of things that, until very recently, were just undiscovered lexicons, and to a certain extent that includes me.
It’s well known that the role of ‘dad’ (or ‘papa’ as I’m referred to by my wife, which makes me sound like a feeble old pizza chef with a massive white ‘tash) is pretty much a supportive one in the early stages of [his] life, and even then you’ll always play second fiddle to her. To be honest I got used to this very early on, so when I do get a grin or even something resembling a freely-given cuddle it means loads. Recently these have increased in frequency as it become more apparent that his little neurons and synapses are beginning to form cohesive structures. I’m no longer some tit-less entity who is just there on a daily basis, I now have a function of sorts, though he’s no idea what that is. And I’m not so sure either, though there are a few that definitively come with the job, mainly revolving around his mouth and bottom…
…And there we were three years ago in Amsterdam at Easter, after having biked there in black leather from London, sat in a coffee-bar smoking a joint. That day I’d had to buy a pair of 15 quid jeans from some Dutch equivalent of Primark after having left mine at home. These jeans weren’t quite the stop gap I’d anticipated, I’d bought them in less than five minutes, but they fitted so well I just wore them all the time. Two years later, almost to the day, I wore them when my son was born. That may not seem particularly profound or weird but those 15 quid trousers are witness to a change in both life and lifestyle. Last week, with my trousers covered in animal-shaped pasta and ricotta vomit, I took a moment to ruminate. And as I threw my beloved jeans into the bath to soak, once again, I considered the choices we make in life and the effect it has on the future, not just mine or his, but everyone’s, even yours. What if in twenty-year’s time he comes around to your house when you’re on holiday, nicks all your electrical goods and takes a dump on your Axminster on the way out? You can’t say I didn’t warn you.
Happy birthday, son.