‘So, it’s three years since I first became a parent. 36 months. Say it fast and it doesn’t seem like the last time I had a warm cup of tea and a pee in peace,’ says South Yorkshire dad, and author, Matt Coyne.
‘And it’s almost that long since I began writing my first book Dummy, a book about the first year of parenthood. I can’t really remember writing it. To be honest, I can’t really remember anything about that year. I don’t think that’s too weird, I think when most people first become a parent they shuffle around in a daze, exhausted and not entirely sure which way is up.
‘I do remember, though, that whilst doing promotion for Dummy I would occasionally be approached by parents of older children. Often cutting quite a haunted figure, they would explain that they’d read the book and whilst they enjoyed it, they believed it to be fundamentally flawed. They explained that parenting a newborn is actually the easy bit and that I was an idiot to think that the first year was in any way the hardest or the most chaotic. After all, we still had the toddler years to come.
‘We’d laugh and chat for a while and the conversation would move on. But then when the time came for us to part they would fall quiet, take me by the arms, fix me with a hard stare and with mystery and dark menace they would utter three simple words: Just. You. Wait.
‘And there would be an ominous faint rumble of thunder in the distance. ‘mm.. that’s weird’ I thought. I genuinely thought they were having me on. After all, ‘How could looking after a toddler be harder than looking after a baby?’ I reasoned. Toddlers sleep don’t they? Some of them even feed themselves. Often they can walk, so you don’t have to carry them around everywhere like a pet log. The really good ones don’t fill their pants and even dress themselves.
‘Apparently, some of them even talk. ‘It’ll be nice to have a new, younger person’s perspective around the house,’ I imagined. Yes, it all sounded rather civilised. Except it isn’t.
‘From the constant snot trails to dealing with a level 10, earth-shaking meltdown - because you forgot to let them press the button to call a lift - it turns out that there is nothing even remotely civilised about sharing your life with a toddler. (In reality, looking after a toddler is about as civilised as living in a bin and surviving by drinking your own urine). And so, this week sees the publication of my new book Man vs Toddler. A book about the reality of the Terrible Twos and Potty Training, (and carrying out a burial ceremony for a dead ladybird), and all those fun and infuriating things that form part of a toddler-parent’s life. But it’s also about how remarkable these little humans are. ‘How lacking in self-doubt, smart, funny, entertaining, curious and astonishing they can be. In many ways, it’s about how these odd little creatures are the very best of us.
‘So, I really hope people enjoy this book as much as the first. And I also hope that those parents of toddlers, I scoffed at in those early days, will read it as an apology. I hold my hands up. I was wrong when I suggested that the newborn stage is the hardest bit of parenting. Clearly, the toughest times of being a parent are to be found in the toddler years. Definitely, unequivocally and without doubt.
‘...And, once more there is the sound of distant thunder, as every reader who is the parent to a teenager chuckles to themselves. ‘Just. You. Wait’ they whisper beneath their breath.
‘Just. You. Wait.’
Matt Coyne is a 44-year-old Yorkshireman, born and raised in Sheffield. A graphic designer by trade, Matt was thrust into the spotlight in 2015 when a Christmas Facebook post he wrote, updating his family and friends on his musings on life as a new dad, went viral.
“I was contacted by television shows in Australia, and radio shows in America; it was even on North Korea’s news agency website,” Matt recalls incredulously.
“Things started to get really crazy when Ashton Kutcher shared it, and then George Takei, from Star Trek.
“This Morning invited me on the show and, one week after I sat writing that post in Meadowhall, I was on the couch with Philip Schofield and Holly Willoughby.”
Man Vs Toddler, the highly-anticipated sequel to his critically acclaimed Sunday Times bestseller first book, is available now in all good bookshops, on Amazon, and is also available as an audiobook.
Head to Facebook.com/Manversusbaby for details.