For the last few weeks, I have watched Mother and Father in their admirable attempts to parent me. It has been painful, at times hilarious, on occasion pleasant, to watch. I’ve learnt a lot. So, here’s my A-Z for parents, straight from the mouth of a baby…..
A is for advice. 99.9% of the parenting advice you receive will be unsolicited and unwanted. The best course of action is to smile and say ‘thank you’, even if it is through gritted teeth. The incorrect response is to a) rant furiously b) cry pitifully or c) make a socially unacceptable and ill thought-out comment such as Mother did: ‘That’s all very well and good, but didn’t your son just get arrested?’
B is for Baby. No, there’s no giving us back, however much you joke about it with the midwife. We’re yours for life. You knew what you were getting yourself into….
B is for Babygro. Anyone watching my parents dress me would realise that babygros are in fact the most complicated garments ever designed. I cannot tell you how long it takes either one of them to get the poppers all lined up and correct. The concentration on their faces is as fierce as if they were attempting a university exam. And then, when they finally get it right, their unadulterated joy is a sight to behold.
C is for Coffee and Chocolate. According to my parents, these are what have got them ‘through the last weeks.’ And you do not want to be around when they run out of either….their sobs are just pitiful.
D is for Daddy. Whatever you knew before, that life has gone. Father quickly realised that life is all about me now when I had a nappy malfunction (see ‘N’ below) whilst seated on him when he was attempting to watch a football game on TV. He seemed momentarily annoyed, before turning to mush, as he always does in my presence.
D is for Dance. I do not know why but when my parents are struggling to cheer me up (when, in their words, I am ‘screaming with rage’) they resort to the art of dance to alleviate my upset. However there are few things more disturbing than watching your parents engage in a slapstick and toe-curling dance routine for your ‘amusement.’
E is for Energy. You’ll need tons of it. See ‘C’ above for advice on how to boost this.
F is for Feeding. Us babies need feeding. A lot. And unlike you, with your bourgeois breakfast, lunch and dinner, we’re not fussy about when we dine. You may well find – as my parents did – that our appetite rages most at 4.30am in the morning. Sorry if this doesn’t fit with your schedule, but we’re in charge now (see ‘R for ‘Routine’ below).
G is for Grandparents. Grandparents are the saviours of parents, the ones who will come round and take over so Mother or Father can do something else instead. The last time my grandparents visited, Mother and Father practically knocked each other out in their haste to get out the front door. As a final note, babies should always be nice to grandparents because when they are older, these people will let them eat as many sweets as they so wish.
H is for Home. I don’t care how pristine your home was B.B. (Before Baby), it never, ever will be again. My parents have just given in and accepted that they live in a house where the hoovering happens on an ‘as absolutely desperate basis’. They talk about getting a cleaner like other people talk about winning the lottery.
I is for Ironing. Forget it, you’re not doing it anymore. Either buy crease-free clothes or accept that you are going to be walking around looking like a crumpled paper bag. Apparently my Father just blasts his shirt with the hand dryer in the toilets at work to get the wrinkles out now.
J is for Joking. Some days, a little bit of humour will get you through, others it will break you. I recall the visitor who laughingly told Mother that she looked like ‘she’d aged twenty years since having me’. He left behind his coat in his hurry to get out amidst Mother’s angry words.
K is for Knowledge. Mother and Father get most of their parenting knowledge from Google. This is all well and good when they stumble across sites which give guidance that agrees with me, not so much when they adhere to information, such as ‘letting baby cry.’ I was absolutely furious about this particular approach, my screams so loud they could be heard next door.
L is for Love. According to my parents, complete and unconditional love is the only thing that gets you through. Through what, I didn’t ask.
M is for Mummy. Forget all your other titles – wife, employee, sister, daughter, auntie, cousin, this is your most important role. It’s also your most demanding, most stressful, most tiring and most unbelievably rewarding role (that’s what Mother tells me at the end of each day).
N is for Nappy. Imagine the most disgusting odour to ever assault your nasal cavities. And add to that the most hideous mess you have ever seen. Times that by a thousand and you have a good idea of the nappy challenges that await you. Also: Nappy Malfunctions. These occur when you are least expecting them, when you think you’ve put a nappy on correctly, only to find that your confidence is misplaced. I remember one day when I was lying in my Moses basket, minding my own business, when Mother suddenly squealed as my nappy had seeped widely, covering my tummy in a yellowy-brown slime. Be warned: nappy malfunctions are silent but deadly.
O is for Outside. In the first weeks after a baby’s arrival, ‘Outside’ is a foreign country, a place that you may recall visiting in your misty memories but that’s about it. Shortly after I had made my grand entrance, Mother and Father decided to take me out for a wander. We were planning to leave about 10am and finally made it out about 5pm. By the time we had left the house, I wasn’t in the best temper and screamed the entire way to the shop and the entire way back. It was some time before we ventured out again.
P is for Pram. My Father was supposed to put my pram together before my arrival. He didn’t. This was his first mistake. His second was throwing away the instructions. His third was admitting to Mother he had done this. You have been warned….
Q is for Quiet. If you’re a fan of peace and quiet then you are going to have to have a serious rethink of your likes and dislikes. Us babies like noise, and lots of it. And often our preference is be very vocal when you’re least expecting it. It still makes me smile inside to see Mother and Father jump as if electrocuted when I scream out in the middle of the night.
R is for Routine. Forget it. Mother tried to get me into a routine very early on. She quickly learnt that there’s only one routine I observe and that’s my own. I think she came to this realisation at about 5.30am one morning when I had spent the entire evening awake: feeding, screaming and resolutely not napping.
S is for Sleeping. You might once have enjoyed Saturday lie-ins til midday, you won’t anymore. Mother and Father talk about sleep with great fondness, as if it’s a lost love, once held, now gone forever.
T is for Trimming. Our nails grow surprisingly fast and need very frequent trimming to prevent scratching. Unfortunately our nails are also absolutely minute which makes cutting them a true test of delicate handiwork. You need to be absolutely steady, with nerves of steel, to attempt this tricky task. Sadly my parents are the bumbling, clumsy types so I shudder whenever I see them, nail clipper poised in hand.
U is for Upset. Us babies cry. A lot. But that doesn’t mean we’re always sad or angry (although in my case, it often is. You would be too if your Mother dressed you with all the panache of a clown). Mostly though, we’re just trying to tell you something by our crying.
V is for Vomit. Our little tummies will often kick out the milk we’re consuming, sometimes quite aggressively. Just the other day I projectile vomited all over Father’s hair. He looked like he didn’t know whether to laugh, cry or do both. Mother had no such problem, she was laughing so hard that she could hardly speak. Father was furious, she was supposed to get him a towel to clean it up but she was doubled up with glee.
W is for Wine. Mother loves this. It seems to put a smile on her face when she treats herself to a glass.
W is for Washing. Your machine will be on constant rotation. We can be a tad messy us babies (I am on about three outfit changes a day most days) and the whirr of your washing machine will be constant background noise now.
X is for XXX Kisses. Spare a thought for us poor babies who are absolutely slobbered in kisses from well-meaning relatives. There are few things worse than the sight of Great-Aunt Irene puckering up to plant a sloppy smacker on my cheek.
Y is for Young. However youthful you are, you won’t feel so young after a few weeks with baby. Mother often complains about ‘feeling about eighty.’ Some days she looks it too (I don’t tell her this).
Z is for Zzzzzzz. After hours of gentle rocking, hundreds of lullabies and copious amounts of milk, us babies do get off to sleep eventually. And when we do, you’ll miss us almost immediately. My Mother often says: ‘I spend ages trying to convince her to go to sleep and when she finally does, I wish she was awake again because all I want to do is cuddle her.’
Love, Baby Anon x