Sleep & Routine Health & Well-being

The adventures of Pāpā Piripi #2: My first summer with a baby

Babies in summer

Kia ora! I’m Piripi. I’m a writer and a fried-chicken enthusiast. I also used to think of myself as a husband, but marriage has taught me I’m actually just a live-in masseuse. Either that or a poorly stocked ATM. I’m also a first-time dad to a tiny narcissist – I mean beautiful baby boy.

My first summer with a baby

I love summer. It is by far the best season of the year.

If you disagree with this purely factual statement there’s a high chance you are not a human being but one of our lizard overlords.

Being a regular human person and summer-lover myself, I was determined that my newborn son would follow in my footsteps and embrace the joys of the sun, the beach and the miracle that is Kane Williamson on a cricket pitch. So as summer approached this year, my wife and I set out to make sure our boy would enjoy an idyllic New Zealand summer.

We started strong. Walks down to the beach most mornings. Picnics in the backyard in the afternoon. Beers, white bread and fish n chips for tea, and hanging out with mates as much as our overtired bodies would allow us.

It was perfect.

And bubba hated pretty much all of it.

Maybe it was that his eyeballs weren’t quite ready for the sandblasting on offer at most Christchurch beaches. It also could have been that he didn’t appreciate the mild sunburn he got one afternoon, or the fact that most nights he was not allowed a second beer (for any literalists out there, this is an example of a joke).

Somewhat disappointingly, his general disposition whenever we were outdoors seemed to communicate something along the lines of, “Guys, I’m a baby, not a twenty-three-year-old German backpacker”.

It turns out that having a four-month-old can force you to reassess what constitutes the ‘idyllic’ New Zealand summer.

Despite this devastating realisation, we did make one last-ditch attempt to save our summer: We erected the tent in the backyard. Our dreams of spending the night pretending we were camping somewhere deep in the South Island wilderness were shattered almost instantly. However, for the four-and-a-half glorious minutes the baby was happily entertained, it was paradise.

It turns out that having a four-month-old can force you to reassess what constitutes the ‘idyllic’ New Zealand summer.

And that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

Just because our version of the idyllic summer no longer involves staying at the beach for so long that you leave cold, burnt and with three new dreadlocks, it doesn’t mean that we’ve lost our love of the season. And just because I didn’t get to drink any beers on an epic camping holiday this year, it doesn’t mean I didn’t drink any beers. I just drank way more of them at the kitchen table. I also watched a lot more test cricket.

Some people would even call this a humongous improvement.

The bottom line is this: Once you have a baby, lots of things are different. But different definitely doesn’t mean bad.

By far the coolest thing about being around more over summer was how much time I got to spend with my boy. He’s only four months old so, admittedly, conversations end up being slightly one-way. Be that as it may, I still managed to lose several arguments.

By far the coolest thing about being around more over summer was how much time I got to spend with my boy.

However, I also got to speak to him in Māori – a lot. And as someone who didn’t grow up being able to speak my own language, watching my boys’ eyes light up as we sung waiata and spoke in the reo was amazing. And cos I wasn’t at work I got to do this heaps, every single day.

So even when you spend a day or two of your holiday trapped inside an anti-summer fridge simulator with the exact same furnishings as your lounge, at least you’re all in it together. My wife would much rather be at the beach too, eating fruit and reading a book while I eat two scoops of chips and a donut and then attempt to swim. Even my son would rather be at the beach, because even though he might get some sand in the eyeballs, at least he’s allowed to wee on everything.

But back to the point. Other than sweaty nightmares that involve Kane Williamson getting injured or abducted by sandpaper-wielding Australians, summer is still the best time of the year.

I mean, what else have I been sculpting this immaculate dad-bod for?

Phil Baker

Phil Baker

Piripi is of Te Whakatōhea descent and is a writer for Parenting Place and avid fried chicken enthusiast. He used to think of himself as a husband, but marriage has taught him he is actually just a live-in masseuse. Either that or a poorly stocked ATM. He is also a proud new dad to a beautiful baby boy.