We have a song for everything.
Some of them are original compositions; others are reworkings of popular tunes with new lyrics. But they all rhyme, often at the expense of meaning. We have a song for cleaning up the carnage of the highchair after meals (“Clean Up, Clean Up!”), and a completely different one for the scream-punctuated washing of face and hands that comes next (“Clean Our Handies”). A song for getting down safely off the couch unassisted (“On Our Tummies”), and one for that last interminable twenty minutes before your partner gets home from work (“Where Is Daddy?”).
I may be driving her mad, it’s hard to tell. But I’m thinking of putting out an album.
It’s kind of a spidery house. And we have no curtains yet, which, coupled with the daily parade of construction workers going past, has meant I’ve had to stop flouncing around in my underwear in the mornings. But there is a field of cows opposite, and four chickens from a neighbouring house who saunter out for a stroll morning and evening. There’s a modern, fully-fitted kitchen (at last!) and a tiny room that just fits a cot and chest of drawers for K. And there are three bathrooms. Three! We don’t know ourselves.
We’re slowly getting settled in here in lovely Cornwall, which so far is showing itself to be everything it’s cracked up to be. It’s warm and summery, the people are friendly, and there’s a beach in every direction. When you add that all up, and factor in the Clotted Cream Multiplier… well. We like it, very much.
The baby is proving to be a great ice-breaker, as it seems nobody can resist chatting to her when we’re out and about. And she, for her part, is loving all the space to practice her new skills – crawling, pulling up to stand, and knocking over giant towers of blocks before her Mama can finish building them. Also biting me on the belly and laughing like a nut, which, while not to be encouraged, is pretty hilarious.
It’s starting to feel like home.
We’ve started solids over here.
We’re doing that thing. You know the one I mean. The thing that’s just common sense, but has such a w*nky name that you avoid it for fear of being one of those mothers who provokes eyerolls whenever her back is turned.
I prefer to think of it as the lazy approach to feeding your child. Much as you’d do with a dog or other household pet, we toss scraps on her high-chair tray and let her fend for herself.
She seems to be enjoying it, anyway.
Dear producers of those ‘Precious Memories’-type baby books,
A few pages you may want to include in your next edition:
- photo slot for the first time she projectile vomits into your face
- dinky little envelope to hold the massive clumps of hair that regularly fall out of your own head these days
- space to transcribe the first time you passive-aggressively use her to pick a fight with your husband, through the medium of baby talk (“If Dada had just remembered to pick up more nappies like I asked him to, we wouldn’t be in this mess, would we baba? Would we?! A-goo-goo.”)
We’re notoriously bad at accepting compliments in this country. God forbid we should give a gracious smile and a demure “Oh, thank you”. “You’re too kind.” No, instead we’re champion deflectors, falling over ourselves to prove them wrong, or at least make it clear how very very cheap the item of clothing in question really was.
But when people compliment the baby, I’m a bit stuck as to what to say. The usual responses don’t seem quite appropriate:
- “Ah, would you stop?! The state of her.”
- “Aldi, would you believe it? Four euro.”
Instead, I’ve been telling the truth. “Thanks so much. We’re delighted with her.”
I’m a little bit in love with Phil Spencer.
And with Kirstie, actually. I want them both. I want them to swoop down and take me on a tour of barn conversions and former rectories across the English countryside. I want faux-tense negotiations over a glass of wine in some perfectly rustic country pub. Dammit, I want the four-bedroom forever home in Berkshire with the period fireplaces and the loft conversion.
I want it all. (Except for the exposed beams. There are far too many exposed beams everywhere. Tone it down, Tudors.)
I always vowed I wouldn’t be one of those mothers who drags her child around shopping centres all day. Not for us endless hours spent wandering through these soulless halls of commerce; instead our days would be made up of healthful walks, lots of cooing into each other’s faces, and a range of carefully curated, age-appropriate educational pursuits. You know the sort of thing. Sign language. Baby yoga. Pre-verbal French lessons.
Yeah. That resolve lasted… oh, about ten days.
In my defence: when you have a new baby, you need to buy stuff. No matter how prepared you think you are. You run out of nappies long before you thought you would. The nursing bra size you guesstimated while you were still pregnant turns out to have been wildly inaccurate. You realise the absolute necessity of breast pads. And so on. Added to that, it’s Christmas, and having a newborn doesn’t completely absolve you of all present-buying responsibility.
The other, real-er reason, of course, is that there aren’t all that many places you can go with a small baby, especially in December. Shopping centres are warm, dry and (crucially) free, and there’s ready access to coffee and changing facilities.
And so, I stand corrected. The shopping centre is where it’s at, the Mecca for all bleary-eyed new parents who’ve discovered that riding in the car is the one thing guaranteed to put their baby to sleep, and consequently need somewhere to take them.
I’ll fight you for the last parent-and-child space.