Rockpool Publishing

The Toddler Owner's Manual

Extracted from “ (September 2014 edition)

When fatherhood first descended upon me six years ago I had no idea what to expect. Sure, like many dads I had done all the antenatal classes and thought I was ready, but I could not have been more wrong!

A baby may be small, but there is a lot to do and I was overwhelmed; the only way I could cope was to equate fatherhood to something that I was already in possession of intimate knowledge of… owning a car!

Thus the Baby Owner’s Manual, and subsequent Toddler Owner’s Manual were born. Both of these books are instructional manuals for fathers that equate the fact that the life, care and love of your baby/toddler can be directly related to that of your car.

Here’s why: both a child and a car require frequent refuelling, cleaning and regular maintenance to ensure their smooth operation and longevity. Should you fail to keep up a regular regime in terms of these three practices both the child and the car will begin to look shabby, smell a little bit and start making horrible noises. The ultimate manufacturer of all children is Mother Nature Heavy Industries (MNHI). And, like all good car manufactures, MNHI also offers a comprehensive warranty program on its babies, protecting the parents against any faults that may have occurred during the manufacturing and birthing process.

The warranty however, does not cover fatherly clumsiness, unforseen excretions resulting from over or incorrect feeding nor does it cover any injury or illness resulting from the purchase and use of cheap Chinese furniture which can splinter and is often still covered in leadbased paint.

Both cars and children are designed to be taken out a given a ‘run’. Nothing a baby likes more than to be out in the open air, and there is nothing a car benefits from more than being on the open road and allowed its head. Combine both of these activities to save time. Why put the baby in a pram and walk it around the block when you have got a perfectly good car sitting at home. Strap the baby into the car seat, wind down its window and take off! Both car and child will thank you.

As someone who has owned many cars but only two children I am very happy that this ratio has not been reversed. Although both can bring you a great deal of joy, the beauty of a car is that you either trade one in on another one, or you  leave one in the garage while you drive the other. With kids, once you have got them you can’t give them back, and you certainly aren’t allowed to trade them in. Plus, if you have more than one, you can guarantee that they will both require attention at the same time... no such thing as a garage for the little ones.

I am 50 years old now and have a six year- old and a one-year-old. By my reckoning that means that by the time they are ready to leave home, and I have to stop looking after them, I will probably be about ready to give up my license to drive, which means I won’t have children or a car to be responsible for!

Steve Bedwell - Optimum Health – 01 September, 2014