Sunday, 28 June 2009

Milk and the machine

Every baby deserves mother's milk. It is the best possible food, strengthens the maternal bond and reduces the risk of long and short-term illness for mother and child alike. It is simply meant to be. And it's inspiring to watch, even during a slightly awkward moment in the middle of Pizza Express:

It is also nature's way of fighting back against gender equality. It's a binding contract for mummy to always be the one who gets up in the night, to never stray too far or too long from baby's side.

I sometimes feel guilty about this, maybe even a little inadequate, but mostly just grateful.

Can I help? No? Shall I just carry on picking my nose and playing online poker then? Sweet. Far be it from me to argue with nature's whim.

All well and good. Until the machines take over:

It could only be the Philips Avent ISIS iQ UNO. Mummy attached it to her boob and squeezed the handle a couple of times to mimic Luca's feeding action. I then watched in horror as the machine continued on its own, mechanically extracting milk from the mother of my firstborn child. And I just stood there and let it.

When I come home from work one of these days to find it sitting in my chair, snuggling up to my woman and ordering me to fetch it a cold beer, I'll probably just do as I'm told.

Threats to my masculinity aside, I have to admit that it's amazing. It let me feed my baby for the first time - magic.

We now have a growing stockpile of frozen milk and we are on the road to revolution. Whisper it, but one of these days we might even get a babysitter and go on an actual date.

At the very least, mummy can go out and let her hair down and I can have a night in, just me and my boy. I just know he's going to love poker.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Sign of the times

I believe in the nanny state. If people want help, give them help. But it can go too far. Like here:

So you're changing a nappy. It's late, it smells, and you'd rather be somewhere else. But do you really need a sign to tell you not to walk out of your baby's life forever, mid-nappy change?

As for this one:

Don't slam your child head-first on the floor! Thank god someone told me.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

The nightmare before breakfast

Luca let us sleep in till 11:30 this morning. Happy fathers' day to you too, son. The only drawback to this rare and glorious pleasure is the vividly macabre dreams that morning-sleep brings.

This one involved a baby who was not exactly Luca (but at the same time was Luca, in that infuriating way dreams have). His face was blackened with bruises. He had been savagely beaten and the person who did it was still after us.

I was trying to get my family away from him. When he got close I variously fought him off with an iron, a laptop and a frying pan.

The dream had no coherent plot that I can remember, just a shuddering montage of my most terrifying insecurities writ large.

At one point Luca said his first word: 'fuck'.

Where do I get this stuff from?

I woke with my heart in my stomach. Then reality dawned: Mummy asleep next to me; Luca in the middle, slowly waking up with his customary squeaks and wriggles; the sun coming in through the window; a lazy Sunday beckoning. No bad guys, no swear words. Life is good.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Is your baby on crack?

A mother of two baby boys confides: 'I'm glad his baby acne cleared up, because he looked like a little crackhead when he was all crying and spotty. He was a little bit harder to love'.

Don't call the social workers, I think she was joking. But you can almost hear the collective intake of breath. A mother feeling anything but endless love for her child? A barbaric concept for purists, a familiar one for actual parents everywhere - every frazzled, red-eyed, pissed-on last one of them.

Another mother, of six- and 15-year-olds, stares coldly across a restaurant table when someone suggests that every parent imagines throwing their child out of a window at least once. 'I've never even imagined that', she replies, 'and I never would'.

Is it wrong to think dark thoughts? Of course not. As long as you don't do them. We've all imagined doing nasty things to school bullies, bad bosses and Ashley Cole - it doesn't make us bad people.

I still find Luca impossible to be angry or annoyed at, but I know the day will come. And if staying in touch with my dark side helps get through the tough times, so be it.

Am I evil? Before you judge me, ask yourself this: Could you love an angry crack baby ALL the time?

You could? You are also on crack. Stay away from my family.

Friday, 12 June 2009

It would never have happened in my day

I used to think grown-ups talked rubbish. Especially the ones who went on about how everything was different in their day; better; more civilised; kids were quiet; no happy-slapping.

I was convinced that the world never really changed that much - people just got older and forgot what it was like to be young.

The other day, as we sat in A&E waiting five hours to see an obstetrician (St George's has no appointment system for this), a young, wounded man burst through through the treatment room doors and asked: 'Am I dead? Am I dead though? No. Well then', before strutting off, closely followed by his police escort.

That, I thought, would never have happened in my day. Kids thumped each other, stole things and did drugs. Now they spill off the front pages of newspapers and into A&E, settling disputes with guns and knives, bragging about the mere fact of not being dead.

Not something that ever bothered me before, it just seemed too far removed from my own life. But now these people are in front of my son. My perfect, innocent son.

Is this the kind of people he'll be mixing with, or running from, if he grows up in London? Will he have to learn to swagger? Will he talk violence as if it was sport? Will he act gangster-minded when he's actually an insecure adolescent? Will he get stabbed or shot for no reason, like poor Ben Kinsella?

I love london, but sometimes I don't know if I want to bring up my boy here.

Monday, 1 June 2009

The joy of poo

Sometimes, changing a nappy can be a truly relaxing experience. The poo, the wool, the water and the wipe. Where else are life's problems so simple? What could ever come close for job satisfaction?

It gets quicker and easier, especially if you're this guy, perhaps the world's only Jujitsu nappy changer. It makes our attempts at post-bath massage look tame. Will definitely try some of his moves.

Then there's the times where you get the nappy straps tangled up, it's 3am, he screaming blue murder, Mum has fed him six times and he's been walked and bounced and burped to no effect.

It's so, so worth it. But sometimes it's hard to see that.

Not that Luca's bothered, swiftly moving onto his first date:

Molly didn't seem so keen, but he's got time to learn.