Figuring Out Fatherhood: I Want A Hold!


One of the many concerns we had whilst Jess was pregnant – alongside 'When are we going to do the nursery?' and 'Where are we going to put all these pink clothes?' – was how our other two children, Isaac and Noah, would react to the arrival of another sibling.

Despite being brothers, and looking almost identical, they couldn't be more different. Isaac, who's five,loves school, and sums, and all things academic. He's brilliant at reading, at writing, at arithmetic...but give him a ball and he goes all awkward, throwing it in a completely wayward direction in a rigid sideways-arm movement that can only be described as some kind of strange discus shot. When he's about to throw, you literally have no idea where it's going to land.

Noah, on the other hand, can – at the tender age of two – throw a ball with pinpoint accuracy, and dribble a football around the garden like Beckham would, if Beckham ever found himself on my lawn with a football. But my word, that boy cannot figure out his colours. Everything is red until I point to something that actually is red, in which case he says it's green.

It was Noah's reaction to Jemima's arrival that we were more concerned about, to be honest. Isaac is old enough to understand what is going on, even venturing the question 'How are babies made?' - which we skilfully avoided (read: ignored). But we had a feeling Noah would react badly to another child on his patch.

Thankfully, our fears were unfounded. An hour after Jemima was born, Isaac and Noah came to visit their little sister; and Noah bombed into the room, past the bed, past the machines, almost through the legs of the midwife, yelled 'BABY SISTER!' and gave her a huge hug as I held on tightly. Poor Jemima, having barely turned a normal pink colour, didn't know what – or who – had hit her.

Isaac, who has always been slightly more shy than Noah, was a little more reserved, but still gave her a big cuddle and a peck on the cheek. We told him that Jemima had bought him a present. 'Is it going to be sticky, like her?' he replied. To his relief, it wasn't.

And so my sons love their little sister, which is great. But, the thing is, they love her a bit too much. In fact, they're obsessed with her. Isaac always wants a hold, and smothers the poor girl in kisses.

We also frequently have to prop Jemima up on Noah's lap, whilst he sits there and giggles uncontrollably at something only he finds funny.

It's fantastic, of course, that they love her so much, and I shouldn't complain. It's just that now and again, I'd like a hold.

That's why, as I write this, Jemima is lying in the crook of my left elbow, slowly making my hand go numb. I feel like I'm in the sequel to 127 Hours. My arm is trapped and quickly losing any function - but I won't put her down. This is a rare cuddle, one that I can only have when my sons are asleep. Plus, if I put her down she'll wake up. Let sleeping babies lie, as the saying goes. (Kind of.)

I'm whinging about nothing, really. Things could be a lot worse. But you know how horses flick their tails to bat flies away? I feel like I need a tail of sorts, so I can swat my kids as they scurry around my knees, begging for a hold. Well, you can't have a cuddle, Isaac – and go and play with your toys, Noah.

This is daddy's time.