STEVE CANAVAN: Parent isn’t getting any easier, or any more exciting

Reading Were Going On A Bear Hunt has become the bane of Steves evenings
Reading Were Going On A Bear Hunt has become the bane of Steves evenings
The German Christmas market in Commercial Road
puts Cheryl Gibbs in a festive mood

CHERYL GIBBS: I’ll be blasting out non-stop Christmas music for weeks

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My daughter, Mary, is now 16 weeks old and showing no signs of any development.

By now I thought she’d be walking and talking and starting to become a bit more independent – able to look after herself while Mrs Canavan and I popped to the theatre and then perhaps a posh restaurant afterwards.

But instead we remain prisoners in our own house, unable to leave our tiny, pathetic offspring for more than 30 seconds without her bursting into tears and demanding some form of attention. In short, she’s much like her mother.

Being a parent really is incredibly dull and monotonous.

Our days are exactly the same: we bounce Mary on our knee, place Mary on her playmat, feed Mary, mop Mary’s chin when she vomits up milk, cuddle Mary when she starts screaming the house down for absolutely no reason at all – usually at the exact moment you’ve just prepared yourself a nice meal and there’s something good on TV – and repeat all of the above 47 times.

Then we give her a bath, and, finally, spend about two hours attempting to put her to bed when the last thing she wants is to be put to bed.

The latter is a chore which usually falls to me. I start by shutting the curtains and dimming the lights before clicking on a small plastic contraption which projects some pitiful-looking stars and the moon on to our bedroom ceiling.

I then turn on a white noise monitor which is meant to help babies sleep, but judging by the past 16 weeks I beg to differ.

Next I read Mary a couple of stories. This seems utterly pointless as she has absolutely no clue what I’m banging on about.

‘But she’s like a sponge at this age, soaking up everything,’ whines Mrs Canavan.

So I spend my evenings reading aloud things like That’s Not My Bunny, a book which features a collection of pictures of various animals on each page with the words ‘that’s not my bunny’, before on the last page there is a picture of a bunny and the words ‘that’s my bunny’. It’s an absolute thriller.

Another is called We’re Going On A Bear Hunt, which I find quite a disturbing book. The plot is this: a father takes his family, including a baby, on a hunt to find a grizzly bear. They look in various places and can’t find one.

On the final page they search in a cave and, lo and behold, stumble upon a massive and very aggressive bear. In an ideal world, the entire family would be ripped apart limb by limb to teach them a lesson.

I mean it’s terribly irresponsible parenting. Disappointingly, though, this doesn’t happen and instead the family runs away and escape with their legs intact, which I don’t think is a good moral to teach children. I mean, if you’re stupid enough to go in search of a bear without so much as a sawn-off shotgun for protection, you deserve to die.

As I read Mary these stories, she stares at me with complete disinterest and the other night even shook her head, sighed, and said, ‘dad, why are you bothering? You know I can’t understand a bleedin’ word you’re saying, right?’

After all this I rock her until her eyes close, gently slide her into her Moses basket, carefully and slowly remove my hand from under her head, and then, just as I turn to creep out of the door, she will, without fail, open one eye and begin screaming. Then we repeat the whole process again.

When she eventually drops off, an exhausted Mrs Canavan and I collapse on the settee, hollow-eyed and haunted like soldiers returning from a lengthy and gruesome war, and reminisce about how lovely life was before we had a child.

Yet weirdly, every time I meet someone who has a baby, they always bang on about how magical and fantastic it is. When I tell them I find it quite boring they look at me as though I need psychiatric help.

Hopefully things will improve – and the sooner we can stop reading the damn bunny story, the better.