Oxbridge in jeopardy

It seems that RB may not be the brightest bulb on the tree.

She likes to roll, so will continuously roll in a straight line until she hits something. However, she seems to have no concept of obstacles, space or motion and, rather than rolling away or around the obstacle, continues to try rolling through it, repeatedly bouncing off like a character in a poorly designed computer game.

Mummy has been watching her for more than ten minutes trying to roll through the TV cabinet. She is showing no signs of fatigue or comprehension. Mummy may need to get popcorn…

The best laid plans

It is widely accepted that babies make it pretty difficult to have a proper social life due to their incessant need to eat, sleep and generally take up all of your time and attention. This evening however, Daddy has arranged to go out for the evening with Mummy and The Baby. This is the second such excursion Daddy has planned.  He has learned from the first, where RB stayed up until nearly midnight roaring at the top of her lungs and laughing at herself for no apparent reason whatsoever. This time, Daddy has purchased a travel cot and arranged a nice quiet evening playing board games with nice quiet friends, who also have little people asleep in the house and will be calm and civil. Mummy is to come with The Baby and pretend to understand the complicated board games that Daddy likes to play whilst sipping pink wine under the table (for beer is the acceptable drink at such events) and willing The Baby to sleep in her newly acquired bed.

Mummy insists that Daddy puts the travel cot up at home to check it works properly. Not wanting to waste more than a minute of his precious evening on such a task, Daddy has got a Super Duper Instant Idiot-proof Pop-up Travel Cot, which promises to take less than a minute to put up and down.

He opens the bag and… Pop! Out it leaps with encouraging success, one self-contained little baby-tent in which RB can snooze the night away.

So far so good, thinks Mummy. Now all Daddy has to do it put it away again.

This does not prove so easy. The instructions tell Daddy to simply ‘twist and collapse,’ but Daddy spends a good twenty minutes twisting forwards, backwards, inside out and back to front with little joy. He looks at the travel cot and looks at the bag it must go in, and assumes that some sort of shift in the fabric of time and space has occurred, as there is no feasible way that it could have fitted into the same bag only moments before.

After immeasurably more twisting and grunting, eventually Daddy does something right and magically the travel cot is transformed into a tiny little package which slips neatly into the case. Daddy has no idea how this happened. It seems the travel cot has supernatural powers.

Mummy and Daddy arrive at the nice quiet friends’ house with RB already in her pyjamas, for they are thoughtful and organised, and the whole evening will go without a hitch.  Daddy pops up the travel cot in less than a minute and Mummy sits down in a nice quiet corner to feed the baby into a sleepy stupor and pop her into her lovely comfy new bed.

Rebel Baby, however, has had a sneaky nap in the car on the way over and is very well rested indeed. All she needs now is a quick feed for some energy and she’s ready for a good night out.

“The Baby is wide awake and lively,” says Mummy. “I will look after The Baby while you play your complicated board game and drink beer.”

“No, no,” say Daddy and the nice quiet friends, “you must play as well, and The Baby will be OK.” Daddy looks at the game and sees and evening of fun; Mummy sees an evening of choking hazards.

So Mummy and The Baby join in the complicated board game. Mummy has no idea what is going on but understands there is a lot of strategy involved, which is one of Daddy’s very favourite things. Rebel Baby likes knocking over the shiny game pieces and licking the playing cards, which makes Daddy twitchy, for the game pieces are Sacred and Important.  It is very difficult for Mummy to hold the baby whilst also drinking pink wine under the table, but she concentrates very hard and just about manages it. The Super Duper Instant Idiot-proof Pop-up Travel Cot rests, redundant, in a dark corner.

As the game goes on, it becomes more intense and The Men are having lots of complicated discussions about their very important strategies for world domination. Rebel Baby has taken to making fake choking noises until her face goes a bit purple and then laughing at herself, which is enough to give Mummy an actual heart attack. The nice quiet friends have found her some baby toys to stop her licking the playing cards, so now Mummy has a wriggly, choke-laughing baby, lots of Sacred and Important game pieces and a pile of baby toys in the way of access to her pink wine.

“Isn’t it lovely to get out and relax!” says Daddy, as he plots his next genius move.

“Oh yes, absolutely!” pants Mummy as she extracts her playing pieces from a dribbly fist and picks up Sophie la Giraffe for the gazillionth time.

“Please go to sleep,” Mummy wills The Baby, trying again and again to persuade her into the peaceful haven that is the expensive new travel cot. But no, The Baby is wide awake.

The game takes so long that Mummy ends up pacing the room with The Baby while The Men negotiate their complicated battle plans. Every now and then someone tells Mummy it is her turn, and she goes and rearranges some ponies on the map to keep them happy. It is getting very late, and The Baby has transitioned from lively and wired to increasingly deranged but still refusing to sleep.

“I think I need to get her home soon…” ventures Mummy.

“Yes, yes,” says Daddy, “I am going to conquer the world any minute now and the game will be over. It is your turn.”

Mummy and The Baby go over and move some ponies…. Mummy has won!!!

“Pah hahahahahaha!! I have won!!!” crows Mummy, for she is a modest and humble winner. Daddy is scratching is head and trying to work out how Mummy must be wrong. But Mummy is not wrong – she has conquered the world! Daddy has no idea how this happened. It seems Mummy has supernatural powers.

“Ho… hum… very good,” mumble Daddy and the lovely friends.  Mummy is smiling very much indeed, for Mummy loves to win. It has been a very good night out.

It is finally time to get The Baby home to bed, before she absolutely loses it. And as if defeat were not bad enough, Daddy must now wrestle the Super Duper Instant Idiot-proof Pop-up Travel Cot back into its bag in less than a minute.

“Maybe next time it would be better if you stayed at home with The Baby,” says Daddy on the way to the car.

First word?

“What a beautiful little face!” coos a nice old lady in Boots, leaning into the pram, her crooked finger out ready to tickle The Baby’s little cheek. “Oh my, what a lovely smile!”

“Gaaaaaaaay!” shouts Rebel Baby at top of her lungs, for this is her new favourite sound. “Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!!”

The lady looks a little taken aback, smiles politely and bumbles off muttering to herself, unsure what just happened.

“Hello gorgeous, are you going to give me a smile?” asks the chirpy man in the camera shop, where RB is having her passport photos done.

“Gaaaaaaaayyyy!!” shouts Rebel Baby, delighted to have an audience. “Gaaaaaaaayyyyyy!”

Mummy cannot decide whether she is going to claim that Rebel Baby has prematurely learned her first word at the tender age of five months and is therefore a genius, or attempt to dismiss it as ‘just a baby noise’ due to The Baby’s tendency to shout it at people in the most inappropriate contexts. In the interests of equality, if she is choosing the former, Mummy will also have to teach The Baby to yell “Straaaaaaaaaight!” which seems a more linguistically challenging accomplishment.

Mummy decides to walk Rebel Baby around the park while she ponders this great dilemma.

“Gaaaay!” shouts Rebel Baby at the ducks on the water.

“Gaaaaaaaaaaaay!” she shouts at the other children, feeding bread to the ducks (which Mummy does not approve of due to the large sign requesting that they do not do this. Mummy silently judges them in a totally British manner, undetectable to the naked eye.)

“Gay! Gay! Gaaaaaaaaay-aaaaaaaay-aaaaaaaay!” shouts Rebel Baby at runners as they jog past, somewhat bemused by the unsolicited judgement they have received.

Mummy has decided that the only proper solution is to invite all of her gay friends round at the earliest possible convenience so that Rebel Baby can appear not only articulate, but also observant and insightful. Yes, that is the only sensible thing to do.

I was so hoping her first word would by “Mummy.”

Aspirations

After RB excelled herself once again in Tummy Time…

… Mummy is beginning to think that perhaps she will not be known for her physical agility. No matter, thinks Mummy, she will be a gifted academic instead, and passes her a book to lick.

Inappropriate baby

As of this afternoon, Mummy is once again housebound because of The Baby’s cold. Whilst Mummy is not quite so precious about her darling angel to keep her at home with just a sniffle, it is the consequences of her sniffle which mean Mummy cannot go out in public.  At least not to feed The Baby.

Feed a cold and starve a fever, is what they say. It seems good advice as Poorly Baby is hungry all the time with her sniffly nose, and lovely milk is the only thing that makes it better. It is soothing and comforting, and RB is very appreciative of her lovely milk. So much so that she likes to express her gratitude with loud, appreciative moaning noises while she eats. So loud. And while she can’t breathe through her nose, they are interspersed with great gasps as she throws her head back to draw breath, like a butterfly swimmer coming up for air, before plunging back in.

The longer this performance goes on, the faster and more frenzied she becomes, building to a great crescendo until eventually she is satisfied and falls off, out of breath. Rebel Baby could give Meg Ryan a run for her money.

Mummy cannot, therefore, take The Baby out in public until the congestion has eased and she is able to eat normally, as befits a baby of her innocence and experience. Until then, the dramatic little thing is contained to the house to recover. To cheer her up, Mummy has treated her to an afternoon of her favourite pastime… shouting at the traffic through the window.

“Raaaaaaaaaaaaaa!”

Buy cheap, buy twice…

Daddy is at work and Mummy has decided she is more than capable of upgrading the high chair on her own, in preparation for feeding the Little One all of her glorious creations.

Some time ago, Mummy spent a great deal of time researching high chairs and, undeterred by the buggy experience, settled upon an all-singing-all-dancing Scandinavian beauty which promised to take the baby from the womb to adulthood and teach it proper table manners on the way. Once Mummy has her heart set on something there is no dissuading her, but since Daddy wastes his time in the garden growing vegetables instead of properly working out how to grow money on trees, she was forced to buy one second hand. Daddy is not a fan of buying things second hand as he mistrusts Other People and also likes things that are new and shiny. “Buy cheap, buy twice,” says Daddy. Daddy is not thrifty like Mummy.

Luckily, a mint condition specimen with bonus attachments was available not too far away and Mummy was filled with love and happiness, for Mummy does love a bargain. She also loves a bit of planet-saving recycling… it is good for her sense of smug self-righteousness. And it helps offset the collection of misguided purchases that Amazon often bring her from China.

Mummy successfully replaces the ‘newborn’ attachment with the ‘baby set,’ and feels mightily pleased with herself. It takes her not too long to install the optional decorative fabric covers for RB’s comfort and delight, as Mummy wants only the best for her precious angel. Then, Mummy realises that the high chair has not come with a tray.

Obviously the tray is an essential piece of kit, so Mummy hotfoots it online to order the missing element. It is OK, thinks Mummy, for my bargainous purchase was so economically and environmentally saintly, ’tis but a trifle to quickly buy a tray. 

But trays are only compatible with baby set V2+, and this is baby set V1. No matter, thinks Mummy, this is only a minor hitch in my otherwise genius acquisition. I will just need the different baby set. 

Baby set V2+ is only compatible with models of chair from 2013 onwards, the website tells Mummy. Mummy has no idea how old the chair is and is forced to look up the serial number printed on the bottom, which Mummy has to dismantle the whole chair to access. Due to it nearly being worn off, she is forced to guess several of the digits, so decides to guess them in a favourable way that makes the chair compatible with the V2+ baby set.

The new baby set will not fit the decorative fabric covers. Sod the covers, thinks Mummy, I’d only have to wash them anyway. The website informs Mummy that to use the tray, she will also require extendable gliders. Mummy doesn’t even know what extendable gliders are, let alone why she needs them.

Now Mummy has spent nearly the cost of the high chair on updating the accessories for it, which may or may not fit. Even more galling than that, Daddy is going to gloat that he was right, that she should not be such a tight-fisted miser and should just buy things properly. Daddy is home from work in four hours, which means Mummy has exactly four hours to work out how she can make this his fault…

This chair is like Trigger’s broom!

Mush, glorious mush!

Mummy is having an absolute field day!! The Ocado delivery man looked slightly bewildered when he carried the bags into the house last night, probably assuming Mummy was on some strange fad diet. The way in which he purposefully juxtapositioned the bag containing a week’s supply of Green & Black’s and Häagen Dazs beside the twenty tons of fruit and veg did not go unnoticed.

Mummy has spent the whole afternoon steaming, roasting and whizzing up glorious purées of wholesome fruit and veg, and the kitchen looks like a Jackson Pollock painting. She was especially inspired by Annabelle’s encouragement to ‘experiment with different flavour combinations and see what your baby will eat.’ 

Challenge accepted, thought Mummy! This is surely how great flavour combinations are discovered! What if Mummy were the first to happen upon plum and swede being a match made in heaven?! Move over Heston Blumenthal, Mummy is in the kitchen!

By dinner time, so many purées have been made in different bowls that Mummy has actually lost track of which one is which. She is therefore not completely sure what has been combined with what, as most seem to have come out an indiscriminate shade of yellow. As Mummy did not think far enough ahead to what she was going to put them in, all forms of receptacle have been called upon and the meals are now frozen in an assortment of different shapes and sizes. The heart-shaped ice cube trays from Mummy and Daddy’s wedding, and miniature Pac-man moulds Daddy once bought on a whim are especially endearing.

It takes several hours to blend and freeze everything, not to mention clean up the industrial wasteland that is the kitchen, and Mummy is exhausted. “I will make dinner,” offers Daddy kindly, who has been resting in his armchair all the while – an activity which he feels is the only right and proper thing for a man to do on a Sunday afternoon. Mummy is enormously grateful and willingly accepts.

“Ho… hum…” Daddy is muttering in the kitchen, “I thought the Ocado man came yesterday?”

“Yes,” said Mummy, “you thought correctly.”

“Why is there absolutely no food in the house?” asks Daddy, confused.

Oh dear, Mummy may have got a bit carried away. Will Daddy like the leek and apple, she wonders, or the parsnip and apricot?

Should be enough to last until she starts school…

Bring on the food…

It is the weekend and, refreshed by her better sleep, Mummy is on a mission! Soon it will be time to wean The Baby, and Mummy is going to be so well prepared that the whole process will go beautifully smoothly without a hitch.

Not long ago, Mummy lost a morning of her life she will never get back to go on a baby-weaning course, so considers herself Very Knowledgeable Indeed on the whole procedure. She has taken great delight in giving Daddy regular lectures on all the guidance and randomly spot-testing him to check he was listening. This in some way makes up for Daddy’s habit of spot-testing Mummy on the original artist and exact release date of songs he hears on the radio, as Daddy wasted a great deal of his youth learning this information whereas Mummy neither knows nor cares… but it makes him feel clever.

Amongst the questionably useful information Mummy gleaned from the overpriced course, there was the requirement to purchase a small amount of weaning equipment. Mummy therefore went on Amazon and bought only the bare essentials, for Mummy is thrifty and does not like clutter in her house.

“Oh my goodness,” says Daddy when the delivery box arrives, “I see you have bought All The Shite.” Mummy takes offence at this, for she considers an all-in-one bowl-masher-suction-spoon-pot to be a very economical purchase, combining as it does the functions of at least five different utensils. The fact Mummy already owns all of the separate utensils is neither here nor there.

“Pffffft…” sniffs Mummy, “You know nothing, you did not do the course.”

Mummy has also read an excellent book about baby weaning by the domestic goddess that is Annabelle Karmel. Thanks to Annabelle, who clearly has too much time on her hands, Rebel Baby can look forward to a varied and perfectly balanced diet of wholesome and nutritious foods that Mummy would never otherwise buy, and certainly wouldn’t eat. A few spoonfuls of ‘Beetroot, Kale and Coconut Surprise’ may help compensate for the fact that The Baby’s breastmilk has been largely made from takeaways and cheap Rosé.

One page has an especially helpful chart which suggests all the different vegetables you might like to start your baby on. In the small print, it does say something about choosing from the suggested selection, but Mummy got the wrong end of the stick and has ordered all of them. 

The Ocado delivery is due tonight and Mummy is wondering how she can transport every fruit and vegetable known to man into the kitchen without Daddy noticing. Hmmm… Mummy will think about that one once she’s worked out where to hide all of the new equipment.

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Sleep training, take 3

6:30 pm

Daddy has come back from work and announced he is off to the pub.

“Someone at work did something that was a bit good so we must all go out for beers to celebrate,” he says.

For once, the baby is asleep so Mummy doesn’t even have cause to be grumpy about this.

“I am going to have a noisy shower in the bathroom right by where the baby is sleeping as I must look and smell beautiful for our celebratory beers,” says Daddy.

7:00 pm 

Daddy’s beers have been cancelled and the baby is awake, so Daddy has two reasons to be sad.

Mummy only has one… she found out what happened to Redbeard.

“What is The Strategy tonight?” asks Daddy.

“Ah!” says Mummy, “I have improved The Strategy today! I sneak off only as far as our bedroom and I wait there until she is definitely completely and utterly asleep, and I can comfort her when needed but she can’t see me.”

“Ah!” says Daddy, “Is this because your increased proximity to the baby allows you to be more in tune to her every need, and allows her to sense your presence is reassuringly close despite not being immediately there, thus enabling her to feel more at ease in her sleep environment?”

“No,” says Mummy, “it is because my legs hurt.”

8:00 pm

Mummy takes a box of earplugs round to the Lovely Neighbour as an apology gift.

“Oh no, I can’t hear her at all!” lies the Lovely Neighbour. Mummy knows this is a lie because Mummy can hear the Lovely Neighbour’s light switch through the walls, and is quite sure the light switch is considerably quieter than the screaming baby. The Lovely Neighbour insists she is telling the truth but willingly accepts the ear plugs which indicates she is not. Mummy apologises profusely again, and the Lovely Neighbour starts apologising for her own children, who are grown up and do not try to scream the street down at 3:00 am. How marvellously British we are, thinks Mummy.

8:45 pm

THE BABY HAS BEEN ASLEEP FOR NEARLY TWO HOURS! Mummy and Daddy keep checking the baby monitor to make sure it is not broken. Which is not necessary, because the baby monitor is not necessary, because The Baby can easily be heard without a monitor. From three streets away. But when Mummy was buying things for the new baby, it was the only thing which vaguely resembled technology and therefore Daddy considered it essential.

Mummy is fully aware that The Baby is probably only asleep because of the accumulated levels of sleep deprivation, and is tanking herself up now so she can resurrect her nightly performance tomorrow, renewed and refreshed. But Mummy doesn’t care.

Sleep when the baby sleeps, say the know-it-all baby websites. Foolishly though, Mummy and Daddy stay up late relishing the peace and quiet. It is rare and welcome opportunity to engage in adult conversation, to cook and enjoy dinner for two and listen to music, to rekindle their relationship and remember a sense of themselves, not the baby-serving zombies they have become.

Naturally, they order a takeaway and spend the next three hours on separate sofas behind laptops, watching Grey’s Anatomy.