"You will have to take baby to Musical Friends once I return to work". A rather frightening sentence some Daddy's can hear. This is the sentence when Mummy tells Daddy that Daddy is to take baby along to the musical baby group...where there are lots of other babies... and lots of other Mummy's... and no other Daddy's.
"OK, not a problem". Daddy replies looking at his feet with the sudden realisation that he is about to enter a cauldron of uncertainty.
He seeks answers from within: 'What do I do when I am there'? 'Do I have to dance around the place like a lunatic'? Do I have to sing at the top of my voice'? 'Worse still, do I in turn have to sing to my baby whilst everyone else is silently looking on'? 'Will I be safe'? 'Where will the nearest exit be'?
Prior to accepting my new challenge as a Daddy I felt I had to prepare myself - I requested from Mummy a "settling in" period to help with my transition into this unknown world of baby groups. I asked Mummy whether I could attend a group session with her and baby to ease me in.
I attended with Mummy pretty much clinging on to her ankles like a child. To my relief there were a couple of other Daddy's there also. 'Phew'. They did look as though they were enjoying themselves a little too much, though - a little too loud and confident for my liking. But anyway, my induction was complete. I didn't feel as though I required any further training.
Mummy went back to work full-time; the time came for me to step up to the plate and join this rather daunting world of baby groups.
Baby's bag was packed; baby was dressed and fed. A slow drive down to the church hall venue followed. My heart pumping vigorously. 'Will my car break down and get me out of trouble here'? Nope. 'I am on my own here, no-one else can save me now'.
Car was parked badly due to nerves. Clear sweat patches stained my t-shirt. I entered the building toward the hall, I sensed tension. 'It is only a hall full of parents and babies having a laugh'. 'Get a grip you moron'.
I entered. And walked into the hall with baby in tow. Inside your head you believe every single Mummy is staring at you with piercing eyes designed to break you. It feels as though these Mummy's are looking at you as if you are mankind's first-ever contact with extra-terrestrial lifeforms.
No-one was looking at me.
And even if they were, they were probably thinking, "Awww, isn't that cute, Daddy taking his baby to a baby group to sing songs, awwww".
Ignoring these realities, I rushed toward the end seat of the semi-circle. I probably looked worried. I was. I was petrified.
A quick scan of the room revealed no other Daddy was in the room. S**t.
Suddenly out of nowhere a loud lady appeared. She was the lady running this group. She shouts, screams, sings and bounces full of incredible enthusiasm. 'I don't remember her being this loud when I went for my induction with Mummy'. She sure hell was now.
Baby was too young to be placed on the floor, instead, she was....asleep. Yes, asleep. 'Now I really am on my own'.
I found a way to cradle baby to ensure I did not resemble a weird man sitting on a seat in a baby group full of Mummy's.
The singing begun.
Haven't times changed, ay? A few years back you would have found me raving inside a packed out Ibiza nightclub drunk on Sex on the Beach cocktails, or playing Blackjack in the middle of a Las Vegas casino at 4am. And yet, now I found myself tapping away to The Grand old Duke of York and banging on a tambourine.
The church hall was my new casino and nightclub; my life had changed.
As more songs and movements were introduced I begun to get the hang of it - at times tapping away a wee bit too excitedly to be honest.
Baby woke up and was alert to the sounds and movements, I on the other hand was practically leading the session with baby in my arms.
The session ended; it was a great hour to be part of. Yes, baby was only a couple of months old and couldn't really understand all what was going on, but it felt good. A great time for any parent to be able to bond with their baby.
I recommend it to any Daddy out there who has an opportunity to attend these baby groups.
Go for it, tap away.