In her nearly two years of life, there’s only been a handful of days and nights when I’ve failed to see Toddler L. The odd stag do, the occasional blogging conference, an infrequent night out with mates or when the missus has gone back with the sprog to her folks’. A rare few hours of childfree life.
As a stay-at-home dad, I don’t often have the chance to be sprogless – I’m pretty sure that if it happened more frequently, then it wouldn’t be long before Social Services came knocking. The thing though, is that even if I am without child, she’s never far from my thoughts.
I don’t mean this in a soppy way – “oh boo hoo, I miss my daughter and can’t function without her”. I mean it more in an annoying sense – “Jesus wept! Even when she’s not here, she’s here”. Kids become so ingrained in your life, meaning that there’s always something to remind you of them or make you remember that you’re still a parent even when they’re not physically with you.
As such, I thought I’d share with you four of the less obvious things which have happened to me when I’m childfree, which have reminded me that I’m still a parent to a toddler. Here we go:
Noisy Toys In The Car
Picture the scene. You’re driving alone in the family car. Windows down, music blaring, only one hand on the wheel and 2mph above the speed limit – screw caution when there’s no kid in the back. You approach a roundabout and break to a stop. In the back, you hear a number of things fall to the floor, closely followed by a chorus of annoying sounds, songs and voices.
That’s right, you might not have a toddler in the back, but you’ve discovered that she’s left what sounds like the entire of Toys R Us in the car. A rattle annoyingly rolls around in the footwell, Oopsy Daisy repeatedly says her name and a Fisher-Price electronic book sings “row, row, row your boat” on a loop.
Driving via the tip has never been so tempting…
Pointing ‘Interesting’ Things Out To Other People
When you spend the majority of your time with a toddler and a dog, it’s easy to forget how to interact with other adults. You kind of get stuck in the ‘parent’ mindset, by which you feel the need to narrate what’s happening and point out things of interest.
On the rare occasions when I’m childfree and with someone who isn’t the toddler or missus, I find myself continuing to do this. I was with my brother the other day and actually said “can you hear the clock?”, “there’s a horse over there” and “oooh, can you see the plane in the sky?”.
His part sympathetic, part worried, part baffled expression said it all.
Waking Up To Imaginary Noises / Kid’s Songs
You’d think that an evening away from your kids would mean an undisturbed nights sleep, a bit of Babestation and a rare lie-in. If so, you’d be wrong! When I’ve had a night away from Toddler L, it’s probably been worse than when she’s been in the room next to me at home – and that’s not because I’m crying myself to sleep because I miss her.
Instead, I’ve woken up constantly during the night thanks to phantom cries, i.e. ‘hearing’ your kid cry when they’re not. If that’s not bad enough, I’ve then woken in the morning with my brain being rotted by the theme tunes from CBeebies kids TV shows. I distinctly remember waking up in the morning after a blogger event in Cambridge to the theme tune from Topsy and Tim – this was much worse than the hangover I was nursing.
A photo posted by The DADventurer (Dave) (@the_dadventurer) on
Finding Random Crap In Your Pocket
As any parent knows, as soon as you have a kid, you turn into a glorified packmule. If you’re not babywearing your kid, then chances are you’ll be lugging around loads of crap related to them. Gone are the days of only needing your house keys, wallet and mobile phone.
When I’ve dipped my hand into my pocket since becoming a dad, I’ve pulled out all manner of things thanks to Toddler L – empty food wrappers, used wet wipes, toy cars, stickers, feathers, stones, hair clips and leaves, to name a few.
It’s becoming like my very own tombola. Only the prizes are shit and most likely covered in snot.
So those are four things which have happened to remind me that I’m a parent, even when I’m childfree. Do these sound familiar? Anything else you’d add to the list? Let me know below!