This week, in a change from the norm, I have been battling with a fascinating case of New Dad paranoia, writes Ben Keenan.
Nothing too serious, just the usual feelings of baby boy induced terror brought on by forgetting where the bottom step was on our staircase.
This small stumble would have been a walk in the park to cope with if it weren’t for the fact I happened to be carrying the boy on my shoulder at the time. The tears that erupted from his beautiful eyes after our bumpy arrival downstairs cut me so deeply that I could barely breathe and spent the next hour apologising profusely to a three month old while making a mental note of the number of stairs in our home. Since then, I’ve become a walking Black Sabbath tribute of paranoid thoughts interspersed with sporadic moments of worst case scenario planning. My son is ridiculously happy unless he’s hungry so, when out of the blue he starts crying, my first thoughts include a veritable shopping list of irrational reasons why this could be. Did I cuddle him too tightly and crack a baby rib? Has this last game of tickle monster caused him to overheat? Have I burped him too roughly and caused internal injury? Has constant beard rash exfoliated a layer of his butter soft skin? Fear, I’ve been told, never leaves a new parent as each new phase of a child’s life brings with it both joy and sheer panic.
The idea that my son will one day take a stand against bedtime, attend his first three-day Heavy Metal festival, drive a car and introduce me to the women he’s fallen in love with fill me with hard to handle feelings of pride but at the same time, cause my heart to beat faster, my throat to get dry and my hairline to recede further. The day when the boy can tell me exactly what’s wrong is a day I look forward to but until then, if you need me I’ll be bubble wrapping the entire house and baby proofing Suffolk.