I love babies, I always have. Even when I was a kid I thought they were adorable and cute, and a bit like Lennie I want to play with them, pet them, and make them laugh. And this was always fine… with other people’s babies.
With great power comes great responsibility.
About 6 years ago, a friend of mine had his first born. A kid who too this day occupies a very special place in my heart. One day, when his son was still a chubby bouncy baby (and unbeknownst to me a crawler) he popped over to see my brother’s new car and go for a spin. He left me alone with the baby. I was a little nervous about the responsibility, but I knew it would only be 10 minutes, what could happen in 10 minutes…?
So I plonk said baby on the kitchen table, and I spend 10 exhausting minutes trying to keep him entertained. I didn’t take my eyes off this baby, and I started to think how anyone get’s anything done when looking after a baby. After 15 minutes, I think it dawned on said baby that Daddy wasn’t around and he started crying. Nothing I did was calming him down. I thought – find something that rattles, he’ll like that. So I turned round to get a jar of beans out of one of the cabinets. I’d moved maybe one and a half feet, been gone for maybe one and half seconds, I turned to say something to the baby, and in the time I’d gone he’d crawled silent ninja style right to the edge of the table. Cue slow motion Mission Impossible 2 style leaping, and an anguished ‘nooooooooooooooooooooooo’, from me, averting baby falls head first onto marble tiles disaster (although to give the baby credit, I think he’d stopped of his own accord).
This properly freaked me out. I sat this baby right in front of me, and didn’t take my eyes off him for the remaining 10 exhausting minutes before his dad came back. It’s entirely possible that I didn’t let him move an inch for fear of his silent ninja skills reappearing. When his dad come back, I chastised him for leaving me with him for so long, handed the baby back like he was an unwanted nappy and vowed to not do anything like that ever again.
Now the only reason I’m mentioning this is I got a small taste of it yesterday as an Uncle. My little baby niece, (no more than 8 hours old) decided to ‘send the food back to the kitchen’…now I’d not seen this before. Surrounded by two experienced Grandmothers I thought everything would be fine. Except that they reacted in a sort of chuckle brother’s scenario – with a dash of panic as more of the ‘dish of the day’ was rejected. One of them called the nurse who explained calmly that everything was ok, this was normal, and hold her like this.
But this freaked me out a bit. So much responsibility, for such a tiny little thing. Just a little bit of panic was seeded into me. They’re soooo fragile, with their tiny fingers, and wobbly head, when I picked her up she started shivering (I panicked a little), then an hour later she turned red (I panicked a little more), and this was all before the ‘please tell Gordon Ramsey this milk isn’t good enough’ incident.
So yeah, she’s beautiful and peaceful, and she has an Uncle/Chacha who loves her. And yeah, I realise that newborns are much hardier than I’m giving them credit for, and that all first time mothers, families (and Uncles) learn as they go along, and that panicking at every little thing the first time you see it is probably normal. But yeah, with little babies comes great responsibility, and that’s also a little scary!