B and I recently spent 2 weeks in the enchanting company of my sister Amanda and 11-month-old nephew Finley.
As I’ve never fancied having children of my own, I didn’t spend much time around them until my sisters became mothers. Even now my opportunities to interact with littluns are few and far between, as they all live on the other side of the world.
B had even less exposure until he met my family, and still holds my niece and nephews as if they are about to explode (which, to be fair, is a distinct possibility).
From this condensed experience of a few weeks, here are my musings on life with a baby.
The entertainment. B and I found ourselves strangely captivated by In the Night Garden during the visit. My sister finds it absolutely mind-numbing but I was fascinated. I like the fact that it’s not noisy (unlike most children’s TV) and has a hypnotic repetitive quality. This does cause one to mumble phrases such as ‘What lovely clean Tombliboo teeth!’ during the day at inopportune moments.
The mess. Ye gods, the mess. An example:
Finley was bundled into the bath after his bolognaise dinner, which retained a greasy orange ring until the next day. And why are all push-chairs and child car seats permanently covered in crushed biscuit, even when there are no biscuits in the vicinity?
I have a terrible habit of constantly putting things away. Amanda would often exclaim ‘Finley, we’ve been tidied!’ when unable to find a critical item like baby wipes. It is pointless putting these away as they seem to be required every 10 seconds.
I haven’t even mentioned the small issue of bodily fluids. I’ve concluded that the ‘Yummy Mummy’ is a myth. There is nothing enticing about someone covered in poo, saliva and mucous, unless you’re a Tory politician.
The enthusiasm. A simple kitchen cupboard is top-notch entertainment for Finley. I can pay a hundred pounds for tickets to a critically acclaimed West End show and still come away underwhelmed. It would be odd if I was enthralled by my saucepans shelf, but being capable of experiencing delight with a bit less effort would be nice.
The dependence. You cannot turn your back for a second. When you do, baby can easily get himself into mortal danger. He also gets upset. Here is Finley when mummy had left the room:
I’m always bemused by parents who seem proud that their baby has separation anxiety. Of course he does, you’re the only person he knows. Familiarity is not a skill.
The whole parenting deal would be much more appealing to me if we were more like monkeys. Carry the baby on your back for a few months, then release him into the forest. Short term pain for long term gain.
The routine. The importance of the daily routine was very apparent to me during this visit. Baby needs to eat, sleep and play for specified periods of time, in the right order, or all hell breaks loose.
The end of the day. Bath & bed time is a highlight. A happy baby having a fabulous time splashing around in a few centimetres of water is a sight to behold. Warm clean baby goes into his pyjamas (with only a little screaming). Play time, story time, bed time. And then, the satisfying sound of wine being poured into a glass.