The Time I Smeared Shit on the Duvet
25 October 2019 | 1:33 pm

My wife and I developed our parenting systems through trial and error.
One of the earliest rules we’d introduced was that if it was after 5am and one of the babies became unsettled, we wouldn’t waste our time trying to get them back down in their cot - we’d just bring them in with us.
After a nice cuddle in our bed, they’d normally settle back down, barring the occasional impromptu fanny gouge or affable bollock kick. (Babies are the most violent sleepers on the planet, easily capable of committing GBH in the middle of reaching for their dummy.)
Our twins were six months old.
I was fast asleep.
At least, the deepest sleep you can get once your kids arrive.
My pre-kids sleep used to be the nocturnal equivalent of deep sea diving. Nowadays I’m lucky if I can submerge my toes in a puddle.
Early on, my sleep was lighter than a Ryvita biscuit who’d been having it off with a helium canister they’d met on Tinder.
Everything woke me up.
Some nights I’d just lie there, bewildered by the thundering surround-sound snoring from the baby twins. Coming through loud and clear on the baby monitor but also via the open bedroom door, making me feel like Goldilocks if the bears had been out on the ale when she’d broken into their house and they’d just passed out next to her.
I’d finally got into a decent slumber when I heard some commotion from the boys room so jumped up like an on-call fireman. (Albeit an overweight, exhausted fireman who happened to be wearing his wife’s maternity pants because all his undies were in the wash.)
One of the boys was crying.
I checked the time.
Ten past five.
Following our new family procedure, I swiftly picked him up and carried him back to our room.
Now, the thing about any form of protocol, be it for a NASA space mission or just a new family from Liverpool, you really need to apply some common sense.
But there’s something about the early years of parenthood and it’s accompanying sleep deprivation that removes common sense from your skill set.
I didn’t notice the smell. Or the mess.
I just climbed back into bed next to my my wife with my son clamped to my chest. Closing my eyes I tried to get back to sleep.
There was an unholy whiff in the air, but that didn’t bother me. Our entire house was a symphony of stenches at that point.
The problem with smells is that if you’re around them for long enough, you can’t smell them anymore. They’re like that knobhead mate we’ve all got from school who’s unpalatable behaviour has become the norm.
‘I know, I know - he really shouldn’t have dunked his willy in your drink. Especially without asking. But that’s just Dave, innit? You’ve got to get to know him.’
Next time you meet a friend of a friend who’s a complete bellwhiff and they pull out the classic ‘Honestly-they’re-alright-once-you-get-to-know-them’ claptrap, remember that even shit doesn’t smell bad if you sniff it for long enough.
If you have young babies, your house probably stinks too. Next time you have visitors, carefully watch their faces as they step over the threshold into your house. They’ll try to disguise it but if you can detect even the slightest nose scrunch, know this – your house fucking reeks.
So as I lay in bed that morning cradling my son, there was a vague funkiness to the room’s aroma, but nothing to raise the alarm.
And that’s when it happened - the unmistakable stench of hot shit violently shot up my nostrils like a fecal dart.
This stench was another level. And it was fresh.
‘Maybe it’s just a fart!’ I optimistically thought, running my hands down to his nappy to check.
But his nappy was warm. And greasy, like a bag of chips.
I could feel it all over my hand.
This was no fart.
I slowly opened a corner of the duvet. My fingers were submerged in so much bum sludge they resembled those poor sea birds you see on the news when there’s been an oil spillage.
‘What have I done?’ I whispered to nobody in particular.
My wife was stirring.
I pulled back the remainder of the duvet to reveal the true scale of this anal catastrophe.
My son’s nappy had exploded and it was everywhere. And I mean EVERYWHERE.
It looked like an explosion in a Nutella factory.
His legs, my arms and chest and the side of our bed had all become victims of my son’s insane shitting spree.
There was a trail of arse gravy across the carpet from the boys’ room, as if Hansel and Gretel had run out of breadcrumbs so decided to shit themselves a route back home.
How had I not noticed when I’d picked him up?
Smeared across the duvet was a fresh skid mark that looked exactly like the Nike swoosh.
‘What’s happening?’ my wife asked, waking up.
Oh god.
‘Nothing babe. Erm, just go back to sleep.’
I’m not sure what my plan was.
Then I noticed a tiny bit on her pillow.
She saw my horrified face and sat up immediately, screaming at this little bum nugget that had taken up residence right next to her ear.
‘Don’t swear in front of the kids!’ I whispered, choosing precisely the wrong moment to take the moral high ground.
Trial and error.
And from this day forth, we amended our family protocol to state: ‘After 5am, only bring the unsettled child into our marital bed AFTER first checking that they haven’t turned into a human slurry truck.’
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The Time I Got Sent to the Naughty Step
7 October 2019 | 1:02 pm

The naughty step is only as powerful as the child allows it to be. I once sent my son there and 20 seconds later he came racing through the living room on his fucking bike.
I briefly tried to return him to his pleasantly carpeted penitentiary but I was far too busy giggling.
On another occasion, my lad wouldn’t go to bed and instead plonked himself down on the bottom of the stairs in defiance. I started to threaten him with a trip to the dreaded step of naughtiness.
I tailed off as I realised he was already sitting on the effing naughty step and my threat now made less sense than Welsh hip-hop.
I could see on his little face, he’d worked this out too.
He threw me a smirk that said, ‘You’ll do what, knobhead?’
I felt it crucial not to back down.
So I continued:
‘But I’m already on it!’ he snorted.
My brain turned to scrambled egg.
I had nothing.
But like an arctic explorer who’s facing certain death unless they make a U-turn, I forged ahead regardless.
Somehow, it worked.
I just think my son just couldn’t be arsed dealing with the next-level bollocks I was waffling.
As a kid, getting sent to the naughty step is punishment.
But getting banished there as an adult is like a spa weekend.
I remember my first sentence.
There was tension building in the house. The kids were getting on our tits. I was getting on my wife’s. Our gaff felt like a semi-detached tinder box.
My son stood on the couch.
I told him to get off.
He smiled at me like Heath Ledger’s Joker.
I repeated my request, nay DEMAND for him to get off the sofa.
He laughed in my face.
I pulled the pin out of my parental hand grenade by muttering, ‘right, that’s it’ and walking towards him.
He knew he’d just booked himself a one-way ticket to the naughty step.
He tried to evade me.
I moved left, he moved right.
I moved right, he moved left.
I moved forward and he got stuck in the gap between the couch and the wall.
I started laughing.
It was piss funny. He wasn’t in danger, hadn’t hurt himself and he was trapped between soft cushions.
Now he was the angry one.
‘Right, that’s it!’ he screamed. (No idea where he got that from.)
‘Daddy - get on the naughty step, right now!’
My laughing subsided.
He was pointing to the stairs.
My wife shrugged at me.
I knew what I had to do.
I walked into the hallway, hot brew in hand while Take That’s ‘Greatest Day’ played in my head.
I parked my fat, sleep-deprived arse on that bottom step for four blissful minutes.
So invigorating was my short stay I’ve been tempted to reoffend and break parole ever since.
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The Time I Embarrassed Myself on a Bouncy Castle
28 September 2019 | 12:41 pm

Kids love bouncy castles. And why not? They’re bouncy and unpredictable, like Kanye West on a pogo stick.
But just like Calpol, crayons and eating your own bogeys, the allure of the bouncy castle tends to dissipate as we reach adulthood.
I’m not someone who lists ‘castle bouncing’ as a hobby these days.
My kids, on the other hand, love a good bouncy castle.
The bouncier the better.
The only thing they love more than a GOOD bouncy castle is a REALLY BAD bouncy castle. Especially those ones that haven’t undergone a decent risk assessment since mullets were cool.
In fact, the more dubious the health and safety standards appear to a casual bystander, the more keen my kids are to dive on headfirst and find the hazards.
We’re at a farm park.
We’re enjoying the standard parental farm park experience - the kids are interested in everything EXCEPT the very farm animals that we just paid a whopping £37.50 to visit. (BTW - My son’s favourite animal at Chester Zoo was once the scabby pigeon in the car park. Money well spent.)
The kids want to eat their lunch.
I explain that it’s only 10.27am.
To distract them, we find the play area.
‘There’s a little bouncy castle,’ I promise them.
And that’s when I see it.
The massive, rubbery bastard.
Twice as big as any I’ve seen before and clearly filled with evil intentions, as if the breath of Beelzebub himself had been used to inflate this diabolical fortress of certain physical injury.
As we move closer, it’s clear that this is no normal bouncy castle. It’s a Hunger Games-inspired springy assault course designed to weed out the physically weakest members of society.
There’s a bunch of things to jump over, crawl under and squeeze past.
Once you’ve negotiated the obstacles, you’re then faced with a near-vertical climbing wall in order to escape.
Your reward for conquering all of this is a slide back down to freedom.
Little did I know what a destructive impact this badly inflated structure was to have on my long-term bouncy castle confidence.
I take a deep breath.
‘Come on, Daddy!’
The kids have already taken their shoes off.
I reluctantly volunteer to join them.
We jump, crawl and squeeze our way around.
We fall and help each other up.
We drag ourselves onto the home straight.
We see the steps to climb onto the top of the slide. They’re almost completely vertical.
I push both boys up and watch them jump down the slide to my wife, out of my sight.
I try to climb the steps.
But the steps are bouncy.
My feet keep slipping.
I can’t get purchase.
‘Who makes inflatable steps?’ I mutter to myself, while having another go.
I slip down again.
‘Fuck this, I need a run up’, I think, so I turn around and walk a few steps back to give myself a chance.
I notice there’s a few other people now waiting for me to get out of their way.
This time I manage to scramble to the top, enough to poke my head just above the top of the slide before slipping back down again.
My wife witnesses my pathetic attempt and shows her support by laughing at me.
I try again and tumble back to the floor.
I apologise to everyone who I’m holding up.
On my next attempt, I almost make it to the apex but by now my upper body strength has evaporated like steam from an outdoor piss so I violently crash back down again. Thankfully, I manage to get high enough for my supportive wife to once again howl at my complete ineptitude.
‘LOOK AT DADDY!’ I hear her bellow from the other side. ‘HE CAN’T GET OUT!’
My kids are now laughing at me.
I have another crack.
Same result.
Each time I try to escape I manage to momentarily poke my head into public view above the wall, for just long enough for my wife to loudly snort-laugh at me.
With each attempt I can feel myself becoming weaker and more ashamed.
By the sixth attempt I notice other people are staring and nudging others.
I try again.
The queue behind me is getting longer. I’m convinced people are talking about me under their breath.
I have another go.
My cheeks are turning crimson, a combination of exhaustion and embarrassment.
The queue is growing impatient. Struggling for breath, I address them.
‘If any of you, erm, want to go ahead of me, just, you know, feel free.’
With that, the entire queue swarms past me as I stagger the opposite way like an asthmatic salmon.
Toddlers whizz by and climb the wall with ease. An elderly lady jogs past and climbs the steps first time, throwing me a look of disdain that says, ‘I may not have any of my own teeth or hips, but at least I’m not you.’
I have another go.
Then another.
There’s a queue forming behind me again.
My OWN KIDS then sprint past me for a second time, giggling up the steps and down the slide like it’s nothing.
I’ve got to get out.
My wife is cackling like a demented hyena.
Strangers are laughing at me.
I consider going backwards and climbing out of the entrance but the threat of total humiliation stops me. I contemplate building a new life for myself inside the bouncy castle. A civilisation. A brave new world where wives show respect to their husbands even when they get stuck inside stuff that others (including small children) can easily escape.
I try again, this time channelling all of the humiliation and ridicule into my arms and legs.
Against all odds, I make it to the top of the slide.
The now sizeable viewing gallery give me a sarcastic cheer. My wife is struggling to breathe with the sheer hilarity of watching the love of her life be publicly shamed in this manner.
I roll down the slide and lie flat on my back, panting for breath.
My kids are stood over me. Pointing at me. Laughing.
I’m just relived to be a free man again.
‘What is it, son?’
‘Where have your socks gone?’
I look at my bare feet. Both socks have come off during the struggle.
For a second, I’m broken.
I look back at my naked toes. They’ve been through so much. They deserve more.
I rise to my feet.
But determined.
I cannot let this foul beast win.
My wife tries to stop me.
My kids are screaming.
I shrug them off and march back to the entrance, filled with fiery vengeance.
I know what I must do.
I stare down the entrance.
‘Those socks are mine. Give them back.’
The bouncy castle snorts in derision.
I flex each leg behind me, one after the other.
Let’s dance, motherfucker.
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