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Diary of a First-Time-Dad
Edwin McGreal

If there’s one thing little people are very good at doing, it’s attracting illness and infections.
With their immunity levels comparatively low, they are much more exposed to the dangers of being out and about than you or I. So it has to be a very warm day that Frankie will be allowed venture out without her hat.
It doesn’t help that she’s quite fond of taking said hat off and throwing it aside any chance she gets. And then a visit of any other little people carrying so much as a runny nose is fraught with danger.
“What’s the worst that could happen?” you may ask. Come back to me after you’ve endured a night without sleep because of a sick baby.
But, of course, you can be over-zealous too. Every nurse we spoke to during Frankie’s two trips to hospital last year with bronchiolitis gave us a silver lining to our cloud: ‘It will build up her immune system’.
We cannot wrap her in cotton wool forever – even if Frankie would love to be able to tear into walls without hurting herself.
A few weeks back, we found ourselves bringing Frankie for her first visit to a kids’ play centre. Aisling describes the ball ponds in such places as being akin to throwing a baby into a pool of dirty tissues. And when you see a gaggle of kids in there, biting and sneezing on every ball, you see where she’s coming from.
Frankie had other ideas though. Coming from a house where she’s the only child and a childminder’s where there’s only one other toddler, this represented a brave new frontier.
It was the Easter holidays, and there were kids everywhere. When we arrived, it was time for Frankie to eat. Frankie loves food pretty much more than anything else in this world. Or so we thought.
For the first time ever, Frankie did not focus on the edibles. All she could look at was the fun, her eyes transfixed on all the little people running around.
She did not completely ignore the food, mind you, but you had to move it with her, bringing it in whatever direction she was looking. If you got lucky, she might multi-task and eat some while surveying the scene.
When we let her down on the ground, she was in her element, exploring and adventuring in the toddlers’ area. A few bigger kids knocking her over did not knock even a whimper out of her. She had no time for such time-wasting.
What’s more, she did not pick up any illness. And after following her around for an hour, keeping an eye on danger, all three of us slept soundly that night.

In his fortnightly column, first-time-father Edwin McGreal  charts the ups and downs of the biggest wake-up call of his life: parenthood.