Breaking: There are no courses in S’pore on ‘How To Dad’. You learn on the job.
Nobody said it's easy.
Before Dec. 1, 2014, I didn’t know that gripe water or colloquially known as fei zai shui is a magic potion that will soothe the crankiest of babies.
Or patting a baby while resting the chin on your shoulders is the best way to burp said kiddo.
Or how you could bribe a 5-year-old with various form of distractions (mainly food and colour pencils for me) to do things quickly and efficiently.
And this. It looks like a contraption but it’s not. Not until you know this condition called mastitis and how cold cabbage leaves — probably used in semi atas chicken rice joints as some oversized garnish to contain the chicken — can be the most organic of painkillers. Ever.
How do I know all these?
I became a father on Dec. 1, 2014.
Previously on I’m Not a Father…
My previous reincarnation involved, not in any particular order, not over packing to death before going out, not needing an extra one hour to prepare to go out and still ending up late, and not scrubbing and sterilising these bottles.
I might sound like I’m whining (ok, maybe a little); I’m actually whining about those dudes who use the following excuses to not enter the hallowed grounds of fatherhood.
I’m not supercilious, I’m just sick of the excuses.
1. I’m not ready
You know what? I absolutely wasn’t ready for fatherhood and calling it a steep learning curve is probably me downplaying things by a few notches.
That said, I didn’t — and neither did any father before me – go to a daddy training school; there’s no diploma in dad-ology studies at an institution near you.
Fatherhood, like life, will not wait for you to be ready: like how your baby won’t hold pee when you are in the thick of the action, trying to swap that soiled diaper for a fresh one.
When the pee comes, it comes (sometimes straight at your face) and, guess what, there’s nothing you can do about it.
You can learn how to swaddle a baby, like I did here, but no baby is going to stay still for you. Here’s yours truly giving a perfect demonstration on how to swaddle a non-moving plastic baby prototype.
Of course, prepare yourself for the impending tsunami of sleepless nights and soiled diapers. But understand that you don’t need to be 100 percent ready because no one is ever 100 percent ready to be a dad.
2. I don’t know how to (INSERT FAVOURITE EXCUSE HERE)
On the opposite end of the spectrum is this guy: He doesn’t know how to swaddle, make milk, prepare a warm bath, change diapers etc.
He probably doesn’t want to learn all these either.
There are a million and one things that we don’t know how to do, but when survival instincts kick in — or when push comes to shove — one can learn from experience. Or even pick up skills on the spot.
If you may let me indulge in analogies, being a new father is a little like cycling: once you know how to cycle, you cannot unlearn cycling. Or mahjong.
You will definitely know how to change diapers. Heck, you might be the doyen among diaper changing men.
3. I lack the resources to have a kid
Like what my millennial colleague who doesn’t want to have a mini-her wrote:
People have different expectations of what is “comfortable”.
Indeed, comfort is subjective.
For every swimming class in a warm, lightly-salted indoor pool, there’s one in a public swimming pool. Ditto for milk powder, cots, prams and almost every other thing.
If you have spare cash lying around your room, go ahead and aim for that S$2,000 pram. If throwing S$2,000 on something the baby will outgrow in a couple of years is not your thing, there are plenty of more affordable ones in the market.
It’s all about choices you make: Instead of sending the kids to enrichment centres, there’s always a choice of home-based learning like craft making and reading. And for every soccer school, there’s a neighbourhood kickabout waiting to be had.
But the key thing in raising happy kids is — surprise, surprise — not money, but patience and time. All kids look up to their parents and if you spend enough time and possess enough patience, you will be your kids’ greatest teacher in life.
4. I am worried that I cannot be a good dad
That’s like worrying whether tomorrow will be a good day; nobody knows.
But first, define good.
Here’s my unsolicited definition: a good father is a responsible father. He doesn’t need to do everything but yet tries his best. Rule of thumb: keep the infant alive, happy and healthy. That’s all you can do. For now.
There are loads to learn at every stage and that’s when a handy and trusted parent resource (trust me, there are truckloads of fake parenting tips pages on the www and what you really need at 3am while changing soiled bedsheets is research-backed info for Singaporean families) like the Baby Bonus Parenting Resources website is very useful.
From pregnancy to newborns and even pre-schoolers, the site contains video guides, articles and tipsheets on how to parent your child confidently on your own.
It’s like that extra set of clothes in your diaper bag when the diaper runneth over; or that extra plastic bag you have in the bag to hold the unplanned puke.
Because parenthood is a never-ending story.
This sponsored post by Baby Bonus Parenting Resources makes this writer want to have a kid again.