The joys of midnight belching
If you have any questions about the crisis at the BBC, I'm your man. Two-week-old Rufus and I – joined by the occasional bottle of mother's milk – are spending many a happy hour in front of the rolling news channels in the dead of night, semi-conscious, semi-dribbling.
Being the living, breathing and occasionally coherent embodiment of the 21st century dad, I have volunteered to do my share of night feeds. With a muslin cloth draped over my left shoulder and a Tommee Tippee on my hip, I am transformed from slumbering bloke into midnight milk maid.
My favoured location for these bleary-eyed moments of father-son communion is on a Windsor chair in the living room, the remote control by my right hand. You might think that feeding a new-born would require both hands, but as anyone who has been in my shoes knows, paternity teaches you all manner of ambidextrous tricks.
On Saturday, one of these feeding sessions developed into what was close to being an all-night vigil in front of the box. As the story of the resignation of the director-general unfolded, Rufus and I were there, soaking it all up. The 10.30pm top-up was followed by a half-conscious 1am-2.30am feast. Clearly unimpressed by the fallout at the corporation, Rufus embarked on a hearty bout of whinging.
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The refusal of a baby to settle can be a stressful experience. In such moments, I recommend lightening the mood by playing a game of Belch-for-Belch.
As its name suggests, Belch-for- Belch is a glorified wind- passing exercise. If a baby isn't settling, it's normally due to a spot of trapped wind. The object is to entice a burp out of your little one by rubbing their back and then to match it with a burp of your own. Childish? Yes. Disgusting? Almost definitely. But these moments can be pretty dark, especially in the middle of the night, so you have to inject a bit of silliness, however crude.
Is this inculcating bad habits? Possibly, but then so is watching television in the middle of the night.
A badge of honour for any self-respecting 21st-century dad is the patch of half-digested milk on your jumper. I'm highly decorated on that front now, and I've had a couple of baptismal font moments on the changing mat too.
Rufus isn't the only one commanding attention in the Bradshaw household. It is Viola's third birthday tomorrow, and there are so many relatives coming that there won't be room for any of her friends. There is even a Canadian delegation jetting in.
Hopefully, being in the spotlight for the day will give Viola the dose of attention she seems to be craving in the wake of Rufus's arrival. She is now a middle child, and aspects of her behaviour already suggest that she is jostling for supremacy in the pecking order. This has manifested itself by her tearing open a box of tissues on the landing and throwing them around like confetti. The house was left looking like a scene from the Andrex advert, with a tantrum-throwing child replacing the cute puppy.
Maybe introducing Viola to Belch-for-Belch is the answer.