It’s Father’s Day, and like any father worth his salt, I’m going to use this opportunity to impart some of my knowledge, whether anyone has asked for it or not.
We’ve reached the five month mark of my daughters’ lives and I feel I’ve amassed enough of an understanding of parenting to be able to help encourage fledgling twin dads. And so, this Father’s Day, I’m writing an open letter to one twin dad in particular.
Mr Clooney. George.
How are you?
I hope this blog post finds you well.
First off, congratulations! However common a birth is, it’s always worth celebrating – especially when there are two! Secondly – and I think I speak for most of the world here – many of us were wondering if you still had it in you. I mean, you are knocking on a bit. You were rocking the salt and pepper look back in One Fine Day and those Nespresso adverts are fooling no one.
So from me, and new dads everywhere, well done. We’re glad the old Cloonsitcals still had some juice left in them. Unless of course, you had them frozen. But this is a nice day; no one wants to think about your tiny swimmers crammed into a Tupperware box, gently chilling in the ice lolly drawer of a Beko fridge-freezer.
So, how are you getting on?
No doubt it will all feel different – where once your life consisted of award shows and Oprah appearances, now it will be spent picking ungodly amounts of fluff from in between your children’s fingers and timing your days around those three-hour feeds and The Chase omnibus on Challenge TV. I feel for you.
It’ll take a little while to settle back into ‘normal’ life. That’s if you can remember what life was like before the arrival of your mini Clooney babies (Moonies?). For me, it’s a distant memory, like Jeremy Clarkson’s failed chat show and Secret chocolate bars – they were heaven, even if they did look like cream-filled turds.
Being professionals, the pressures of work must still hang over you: Amal; reading over notes from her latest international human rights dispute while she fills the baby bath, you; highlighting your lines in the script for Ocean’s Fourteen: Yes, Another Casino! as you try again to get your Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep Machine up and running.
It might all feel a little overwhelming but hang in there. You’ve got this.
That said, it might be helpful for me to give you a little heads up on what to expect when raising twins.
For a start, don’t try to pigeon-hole your babies. You might think you’ve got a handle of which one does what – you’ll start to assign them personalities and quirks. But they have other ideas. As soon as you think you’ve nailed it, they’ll switch. I swear to God ours listen in to our conversations. As soon as we say ‘Oh yes, X is sleeping through no problem.’ BANG! That’s when they dig their heels in. She’ll never sleep again. Meanwhile Fussy McLightSleeper will suddenly discover a passion for remaining unconscious for large periods of the day.
Invest in a white noise machine. Trust me. It’s a godsend. If you don’t know what I’m banging on about, then it’s basically a radio that only plays signal static. Sure, you’ll wake up during the night thinking your ear buds are receiving a faulty transmission, and when the time comes to switch it off, you’ll feel like you’ve gone deaf, but it’s worth it. Just the faintest hiss of the stuff and our babies nod off. We switched on the extractor fan the other day and before you can say ‘sweet dreams’ we had two comatose children.
Feeding. Now this one’s important. It’s the one piece of advice we got from a twin mum before the girls were born and I’m glad we listened. Always feed them together. It might sound simple, but it’s easy to see the temptation not to, especially when one is gasping for a drink but the other is spark out. Either way, get it down them. Not only will you find it easier to build a routine around it, but it gives you more valuable Netflix bingeing time. I’m guessing you’re a Ru Paul’s Drag Race nut, so you’ll appreciate this tip.
That’s pretty much all I’ve learnt to be honest with you. But I still have one major warning. Someone you should always be prepared for; the bane of any twin parents’ lives.
Expect to be stopped in the street. A lot. I know this will be a new experience for you, George, but it really does take some getting used to. For some reason, having two babies makes you far more likely to be on the end of a deluge of other peoples’ opinions. It’s basically Twitter but in the middle of Morrisons.
And if being stopped isn’t enough, the things people say never change. You’re constantly subjected to the same sorry line up of questions. They always open with – and this is a doozy – ‘are they twins?’ I know, George. It defies logic. But just smile and nod. No one needs to hear any of these smart-arsed answers:
- No, it was 2 for 1 down the orphanage.
- Actually, they’re quadruplets but we’re favouring these two this week.
- Wait, you mean there’re two of them in there?!
- They’re like Russian dolls, you open them up and there are more of the buggers inside
The twin question is usually followed by ‘are they identical’? Well, considering this one’s got hair and this one’s as bald as Greg Whatshisface off Masterchef, I’d plump for no.
‘Are they boys/girls’. I like to deal with this one swiftly. ‘Actually, we prefer not to project gender roles on to them at this early stage. We’re raising this one as good, and this one as evil – eventually they’ll face off in a battle for the universe.’
Even once you’ve stated a sex, some will refuse to hear it. ‘Aw, he’s lovely’ they’ll say. ‘She is, isn’t she’ you’ll reply – with extra emphasis on the gender pronouns. ‘Oh, I could eat him up’, you’ll get back. Now, ignoring the admission of cannibalism, if this is their response, you’ve already lost the battle. There’s no point chasing them down the toiletries aisle shouting ‘SHE. IT’S A SHE!’ because suddenly you’re the nuisance.
One question I’ve never got my head around is ‘what did they weigh?’ I can’t really see the relevance. Don’t get me wrong, it serves to highlight just how miraculous the act of giving birth is, but it’s not like anyone wants to linger on the specifics. ‘They were 5 pound each, Barbara. Like two honeydew melons with cradle cap. Imagine trying to push that through your periwinkle!’
And without a shadow of a doubt, at some point, they’ll ask about names. George, let me warn you: don’t be drawn into it. Nothing will destroy that early parental bliss and bring you screaming back down to earth like a stranger judging the names you’ll lovingly picked, while standing in the queue at the fish counter. ‘I’ll have a cod portion for two and a feeling of inadequacy, please’.
So that just about covers it. Of course people are resilient, they’ll find a way to up the ante and ask even more inane questions. Just make sure you’re ready with the answers, or failing that, a rolled up copy of The People’s Friend to bat them away.
So if you want more advice on rearing twins, then check back here regularly for more updates. That’s if you can drag yourself away from Bradley Pitt long enough to read it.
But just remember George; embrace every single second of fatherhood. In my short time playing at being a dad, I’ve come to realise that there is nothing more fulfilling, more incredible, than looking into the eyes of the two little things you’ve helped to create, and knowing it’s your responsibility to protect, nurture and guide them towards being the best people they can be.
You’ve built a career on powerful charismatic performances but there is no better role in this world, than ‘dad’.
Happy Father’s Day, Mr Clooney.
NB: If you’re Jay Z and you’re reading this, thinking ‘Where’s my blog post?’ I can only apologise. While I did have the perfect title (‘99 Problems… to do with raising twins’), you and Beyonce seem to have this parenting thing figured out.
George thought Batman & Robin was a good career move. He needs all the help he can get.