The greener grass in a second-time dad's backyard

By Alan Perrott

Growing a family is a serious business. So is growing a lawn. Alan Perrott, a second-time dad, explains the important connection.

Alan Perrott with Theo, now 2, and new arrival Aubrey. Photo / Paul Estcourt
Alan Perrott with Theo, now 2, and new arrival Aubrey. Photo / Paul Estcourt

Number two's arrival should have been the moment I finally felt like a dad. You know, as in Mum, Dad and the kids; your standard car-load.

Instead, it was when I bought a lawnmower. Now that's a fair dinkum bloke's statement of long-term intent.

After all, with kids, you have to take your chances with whatever pops out. Which is why, when people asked me what I wanted, I'd say "a four-stroke". It was obvious really, two-strokes are all fiddly, much like having a girl.

So, when the opportunity arrived, I left the missus practising her pre-birth mantras and took a few mowers for a test-push while giving their starter ropey-things a decent tugging.

Once satisfied, I sat down to compare catcher capacities and after-sale service options before settling on the green one. I figure the grass stains won't show as much and everyone knows green stops global warming - what father doesn't want to help his kids have a nice, chilly future to live in?

As I say, it was a heartfelt decision, a declaration to the world that I was assuming total responsibility for grass maintenance. At least until the oldest boy can do it.

The purchase has changed me already. Because there I was, only a few minutes after Aubrey David Joel Perrott entered the world a few weeks back, taking a breather on the backyard step and trying to figure out where it had all gone wrong. I mean really, why does freshly cut grass grow back at different heights? It bugs the hell out of me.

Which means I'm officially a dad. My own, in particular.

Distance should be an important element of fatherhood.

But there was no distance to be found on Aubrey's big début. On the bright side, he did manage to hold off until just after the All Black's pool match against France. Otherwise ... well, let's not go there.

And I'd been through all this before. I knew exactly what I had to do.

I was dragged out of bed at midnight to pump up the leaky birth pool, fill it with water, then more pumping, then check the water was a dreamy 37C, and so on and on.

To give myself credit, I think I managed all of it in reasonably good spirits. A stubborn state of denial held me in good stead right up until 5.55am, when I was handed some pink skin with bits sticking out.

Anyway, there's much to be said for night-time labours - and a few things apparently best left unsaid.

For instance, when a woman is in the middle of a contraction and grizzles as you're pouring some urgently needed hot water in her immediate vicinity, don't say "harden up".

In my defence, women get very po-faced during birth and I was only trying to lighten the mood.

To which end I'd even provided some groovy illumination. We've got these big globe things that look rather lovely when sat on top of these colour-shifting cubes. I had wanted to crank up the smoke machine as well, to provide a misty, druidey vibe - we already had an iPod pouring out assorted hippie rubbish, after all - but the killjoys stymied my greatness.

It was a minor setback but we managed to settle into a relaxed rhythm, with Mum in the pool, two of us in support, an invited observer chipping in, and a midwife only a call away.

Actually, the observer was something of a boon to us support staff.

We understood she was a trainee midwife and so, in effect, could serve as a spare. Just in case.

As proceedings rapidly accelerated, the real midwife was called and we were squeezing various pain relieving pressure points when word came from the pool. One of two things was emerging fast, with a child being the more expensive option. My fellow support crew member jumped to the business end: "Nope ... still nope ... oh." Even I could see the head from where I was hiding.

We both turned to the observer. "We'll get out of way and let you take over."

Talk about a look of terror. It turned out she was a trainee ante-natal class teacher, curious about hypnobirthing.

Righto, to plan C. The other support member had delivered a calf or two in her time. How different could it be? All she had to do was catch him and count the hooves.

The excitement was over in less than a minute. Then a new period of excitement began.

First-born Theo had arrived to the Ronettes' Be My Baby so, sticking with the same group, I slipped on Baby, I Love You followed by a rousing Oh, Happy Day.

Then the midwife arrived.

Such were our skill levels after two home births that the support person and I had managed to measure, weigh, clean and photograph our brand new financial burden without spilling a drop.

But, of course, that was very much then: a few brief moments I now refer to as the end of the salad days.

It has turned out that all the warnings had been correct - keeping two kids alive really is a serious job of work.

Which, obviously, means that I can be found outside making the lawn my top priority. And trying to crack the riddle of uniform regrowth.

That's proper dad's work, that is.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a2 at 18 Apr 2014 04:13:50 Processing Time: 483ms