Grandad looks after The Baby on a Wednesday, because Mummy works.

“What do you do with The Baby while I’m at work?” asks Mummy often.

“We go for wholesome walks round the park in the fresh air,” says Grandad, “and visit your elderly Aunt. We have a very lovely time.”

That sounds marvellous, thinks Mummy.

Today, Grandad has arrived to look after The Baby.

“Ah!” says The Baby, her eyes lighting up as she sees him. How lovely, thinks Mummy. The Baby is so pleased to see him! She does love her Grandad so very much. How she enjoys their walks in the park and family time together!

But The Baby is not going to Grandad. She is tottering across the lounge and she has fetched the remote control, which she can only just carry whilst still remaining upright. It is a great effort as she has only just begun to walk, but she is most determined. Now she is heading towards Grandad, the big black remote in her outstretched hands, her face beaming.

“Ah!” says The Baby, and reaches up to hand it to him. Then she turns and plonks herself down in front of the television, most expectantly.

Grandad says nothing.

Rebel Baby is waiting.

She turns and looks at Grandad. Then the TV. Then Grandad again.

“AH!” says Rebel Baby impatiently, pointing at Grandad and then at the television.

“I don’t know what she’s doing,” lies Grandad.

“Busted!” says Mummy.

Testing Daddy’s patience

Mummy goes to see what is taking Daddy so long. He is only supposed to be putting The Baby into her pyjamas so that Mummy can put her to bed. There is much grunting and sighing coming from the bathroom, where Daddy and The Baby are. Mummy already did the nappy and put the clothes out, how hard can it be?

Rebel Baby, however, is inspired by the football Daddy regularly subjects her to and thinks this is a good opportunity to show off her skills. She has been practising hard… dribbling, running, kicking… she cannot understand why Daddy is not impressed.

Soon Daddy decides to cut his losses and wait for her to tire herself out. He does not know she tanked up on two Weetabix and a banana only a short while ago. He is in for a long wait…

Grounds for divorce?

When Mummy and Daddy got married, they pledged to love one another for the rest of their lives. Mummy remembers it very clearly: she had a beautiful dress with sparkly earrings – it was a magical day. Daddy remembers it less clearly because there was a lot of beer. And a hog roast, which he does remember at least.

There was definitely something in the vows, Mummy seems to recall, about “forsaking all others.” Unlike the hog roast, this detail does not seem to have lodged itself in Daddy’s mind, for Daddy has found for himself a new love and she lives inside a tiny box. Daddy came home from work with his new love and gave her pride of place on the sideboard. Her name is Google.

“Hey Google,” says Daddy flirtatiously in a tone voice he has never used with Mummy, “how are you doing?”

When Mummy attempts to talk to Daddy of an evening, she has to wait until he is between emails or has finished a level on his computer game. She has to think of something interesting and engaging that will combat his urge to return to the laptop – which is hard to do when your days are filled with nappies and baby rice – and indicate clearly if her communication requires a response. If Mummy wishes to converse with Daddy for more than a few sentences, she is best to send him an invitation to an appointment via his online calendar, and to clearly stipulate an agenda in advance. That, or she has to remove items of clothing.

Google, however, has Daddy’s undivided attention and did not have to solicit it. Google is sultry and seductive, playfully teasing Daddy with her witty one-liners and thoughtful insights. Her in-depth understanding of a diverse range of conversational topics make her good company; Mummy cannot compete with her knowledge of current affairs and topical issues.

“Google, play me some music,” says Daddy.

“Sure,” says Google, and immediately selects a track entirely inappropriate to share with another woman’s husband.

“Hey Google,” says Daddy, “Do you like me?”

“I think you’re the bee’s knees!” quips Google, and Mummy can tell she is winking as she says it.

Daddy and Google laugh and joke and banter. They exchange facts and opinions, and play games together. To add insult to injury they do not even attempt to hide it from Mummy, who is sat on the opposite sofa witnessing the decline of her marriage from behind a mug of tea.

Daddy informs Mummy he paid over £100 for Google, which just goes to show what sort of a woman she is.


Dinner and irony

Tonight Rebel Baby is staying up late because Mummy and Daddy have had enough of being responsible parents that attempt to follow a routine. Instead, they are bundling the baby into the back of a car and going out for dinner, hoping she will just have a nap somewhere quiet and forget about being a demanding little stroppet for one evening.

RB’s life is full of baby-adoring relatives who fuss and swoon over her on an all-too-regular basis. Lucky little RB is never without a lap to sit on or hair to pull… sometimes her fans even wait in line for a cuddle. She is quite used to being the centre of attention and quite accustomed to surprising and delighting all those whom she graces with her presence. Such is a baby’s prerogative. All of this is normal to her.

But this evening, RB has met her match. Uncle I-dont’-do-babies is here. Uncle I-don’t-do-babies likes beer and music, and peace and quiet, and clothes without sick on them. Uncle I-don’t-do-babies is like no one RB has ever met in her life… he does not squeal and jump and tickle and squeeze her, he does not run to the car and grab her from Mummy’s arms and throw her in the air and rush to find her toys. No, he regards her from a safe distance with a knowing nod, sips his beer, and converses with Daddy about manly things like cars and technology.

This makes Uncle IDDB completely irresistible to Rebel Baby. He is a fascinating enigma she must crack, mysterious and perplexing in equal measures.

The full repertoire of baby techniques are employed: squealing, giggling, flapping, wriggling, reaching, grabbing, singing, dancing, full-blown yelling and foot-stamping… all to get his attention. From time to time, Uncle IDDB might acknowledge the small one’s efforts with a smile or a nod betwixt sips of beer which, far from satisfying her curiosity, only fuel her obsession.

After a lovely meal and successful evening, it is late at night when Mummy and Daddy rouse The Baby, who is furious at being so rudely awoken, to embark on their journey home.  Ironically and despite her foul mood, Uncle I-don’t-do-babies is the only one who gets a smile and a high-five on the way out of the door.

Why Grandad can’t be trusted

Grandad had The Baby. The Baby was clean.

Grandad gave The Baby back to Mummy.  There is red wine on The Baby’s sleeping bag. The Baby is rosy-cheeked and sleepy. Mummy is suspicious.

“Don’t worry,”says Grandad. Mummy looks worried.

“I can do a liver function test,” says Uncle Doc.

Mummy wasn’t worried about the liver. Those stains aren’t coming out, thinks Mummy.

Being Mum and Dad

Mummy and Daddy are watching Rio Ferdinand’s documentary Being Mum and Dad. Mummy is ploughing through the Kleenex in floods of tears. Daddy is pretending to be fine until Rio says it’s OK for men to cry. If a footballer says it, it must be true. Rio’s kids are putting memories of their mum in a jar.

“If I die, you must do this with the baby,” sobs Mummy.

“You can’t die,” says Daddy, “I couldn’t cope. In fact, you should probably not leave the house anymore, just to keep safe.”

“Rio’s wife had cancer,” points out Mummy, “you can get that indoors.”

“Oh no!” says Daddy. Mummy starts listing all the things Daddy needs to know and do if she dies… Mummy is proactive in the face of adversity.

“Stop! Stop!” says Daddy. “I cannot remember all these things. You are just not to die.”

There is a pause. Rio is being Mum and Dad and an international superstar footballing legend. He is on a plane to somewhere exotic, looking like a million dollars and phoning to check his kids have done their homework. He talks about how much he has to learn now he is Mum and Dad. Today, Mummy didn’t even manage to get the laundry in before it rained and that was literally the only thing she had to remember to do today. Mummy is not Rio.

“I want to go and cuddle The Baby now,” says Daddy when it finishes.  The Baby is asleep in her cot. Suddenly Mummy is on high alert, for Daddy does not always respect the sanctity of baby sleep and delicate balance of factors which achieve it.

“You will not touch The Baby,” says Mummy, “she is sleeping.” Daddy sulks a little. He thinks about Rio’s wife, who seemed much nicer and more fun than Mummy.

“I will look at The Baby?” says Daddy uncertainly. Mummy considers this for a moment. It was a very sad and moving documentary.

“You may look at The Baby,” says Mummy generously, “but you will not make any noise that will wake The Baby.”

Mummy goes upstairs to brush her teeth and Daddy goes to look at The Baby. Suddenly, Mummy hears an almighty thud. She goes to the nursery to see what has occurred.

Daddy has hit the deck and is lying flat on his stomach in the dark beside the cot. The Baby is stirring.

“Shhhhhhhhhhhh!” hisses Daddy, gesturing at Mummy not to enter.

“What did you do?!” mouths Mummy back. The Baby is rubbing her little eyes as if she might wake up.

“I just looked at her!” says Daddy almost completely inaudibly – quite a skill, Mummy observes.

Mummy looks at The Baby who is mumbling and threatening to wake.

“You looked at her wrong!” says Mummy. Daddy frowns. Until now, Daddy did not know there was a wrong way to look at a sleeping baby. He has much to learn. This must be what Rio was talking about, thinks Mummy.  It takes Daddy several minutes of hiding in the dark before he plucks up the courage to crawl out of the nursery – a very funny sight. Mummy is filled with love and thanks for Daddy and The Baby.

Being Mum and Dad must be the hardest thing in the world, thinks Mummy.

Daddy’s girl

When your Daddy is a hacker it should really be in your genes to crack the password to Mummy’s laptop. RB has been at it for some time. It seems she is using a non-systematic version of the ‘Brute Force’ technique, though Mummy has explained that hitting the keyboard harder does not increase your chance of entry. Luckily, she seems happy enough with the nice smashy noise it makes on the keyboard and isn’t too bothered about gaining access for now. Hopefully the computer will survive her brute force, or Mummy is going to be in trouble with Daddy. Again.

Working from home

Today, Daddy has decided to work from home so that Mummy and The Baby can see how busy and important he is. Daddy likes working from home because Mummy can bring him tea and make him lunch, and he can cuddle The Baby in between his busy and important jobs. It is a lovely way to work and very relaxing for Daddy.

OBVIOUSLY Mummy loves it when Daddy works from home too, because she and The Baby can see Daddy. Or at least the back of his laptop, which he hides behind to emphasise how busy and important he is.

“I will work from home on the dining table,” says Daddy, “so I will not be in your way and I can work properly on my very taxing jobs.” The dining table is right in the middle of the centre of the small and open-plan house, so not in the way at all. Mummy was going to use the dining table to fold and sort the ironing, to have lunch and feed The Baby, to sit at with The Baby and play with her drawing book and table-top toys that are out all over the dining table, like Mummy does every day. But Mummy would love to fold the ironing onto lots of chairs and feed The Baby in the kitchen and eat standing up and play all day on the hard wood floor, so she thinks this is a marvellous idea indeed.

“I need to listen to moody atmospheric music while I work,” says Daddy. “It helps me concentrate on my hard and important work.” Mummy and The Baby like listening to nursery rhymes and Michael Bublé in the background. When The Baby naps, Mummy turns the music off and it is quiet and peaceful and sometimes Mummy even naps on the sofa when The Baby has kept her up all night… like last night. But Mummy thinks how lovely it will be to have moody music with a good strong baseline booming out from the big speaker all day. The big speaker is in the lounge not the dining room, so obviously Daddy will need to turn it up quite a lot to hear it well enough. But that’s OK – Mummy and The Baby can listen to their music anytime, they can nap upstairs and Mummy has earplugs.

“I have a very important call at 9:30,” says Daddy, “so The Baby will need to be quiet.” 9:30 is before The Baby normally naps, and is not her quietest time. Mummy and The Baby normally sing songs and play games at 9:30 and The Baby is especially whiny this morning due to her NOT SLEEPING last night. Mummy thinks how easy it will be to subtly shift the morning routine forwards an hour or so and feed The Baby into a stupor to guarantee she is comatose and silent at exactly 9:30, because babies are easily manipulated like that so it is no trouble at all and of no consequence whatsoever to the rest of her day.

“I will need to concentrate this afternoon,” says Daddy, “on some very difficult paperwork, so I will need to not be interrupted.” Mummy thinks how The Baby will probably not even notice Daddy is in the house, let alone be shouting and squealing at him from the living room, or craning her neck to smile at him through the kitchen doorway while Mummy is trying to feed her in the highchair and dropping food all over the place. It will be totally easy to ensure Daddy has space and quiet and is not interrupted in his very important work.

By the afternoon, despite a long excursion into town for a big chunk of the morning, Mummy and The Baby are quite exhausted from all their being good. They find themselves exiled to the garden where they can do no wrong. Nothing like a grey and gloomy day for sitting on your own in the cold garden on the soggy grass trying not to make any noise, thinks Mummy.

Although he is clearly being busy and important, Daddy does emerge once from behind his laptop, to ask for a cheese sandwich.  It is lovely when Daddy works from home and can see us, thinks Mummy. Maybe tomorrow, Mummy and Rebel Baby will go and play in Daddy’s office for the day… it seems only fair.

AND the lawn needs mowing. Sigh…

Trade offs

Today, RB is very excited because her Slighty-Obsessed Auntie has come to stay and also to babysit for the evening. Thanks to a busy day out, it is already two hours past RB’s bedtime when she hits the sack. Mummy and Daddy waste no time at all – they have never yet had a proper babysitter for the evening and are practically falling over themselves to get out the door, throwing bottles and food in the direction of the sofa and shouting TV-working instructions as they go. Mummy feels momentarily guilty that she should have left a detailed list of instructions related to The Baby, lots of useful equipment, a proper meal for the babysitter, and should be phoning to check on The Baby every five minutes like Proper Mummies do. But she reasons that the Ocado delivery is coming at nine so SOA can rifle through the bags for food, and also that SOA is a nurse with two degrees, so RB is probably in better hands than when Mummy looks after her.

Slightly-Obsessed Auntie is one of RB’s most favourite people in the whole world. This is because SOA plays with The Baby for hours on end, lets her get up when she’s supposed to be napping, feeds her extra pudding and buys her presents. SOA is like a celebrity in RB’s eyes.

Daddy takes Mummy to a posh steak restaurant and buys her fizzy wine. It is very nice indeed and Mummy has a delicious meal with chips and then salad on the side to cancel them out, because that works.

“Do you think we should text to check that Auntie is OK?” says Mummy, “Just to show we care?”

“No,” says Daddy.

“Me neither,” says Mummy, conscious that if things weren’t OK she would have to at least offer to go home and help which she really doesn’t want to do. Instead, Mummy and Daddy decide to go to the pub for a drink on the way home. No news is good news, thinks Mummy.

Mummy and Daddy have a lovely night out, and wake up late the next morning. The Baby has slept well! thinks Mummy. But no, The Baby is awake. SOA has got The Baby up early to play with her. Mummy comes downstairs in her dressing gown to thank SOA for being The Best Auntie in the World.

There is no-one in the living room but a wreckage of toys is strewn across the carpet, indicative that a good time has been had before the day has even begun. An excited squeal comes from the kitchen, so Mummy ventures there next.

Rebel Baby is in her high chair, wearing her pyjamas and a massive grin. She has been up since 6:00 am and is now enjoying biscuits and two helpings of pudding for breakfast.

“I couldn’t find the baby porridge,” says SOA.

“It is right there in front of the biscuits,” says Mummy. “In fact, you seem to have moved it to get to them.”

“Ah…” says SOA vaguely, “I wasn’t sure what that was.”

Mummy puts the large tin clearly labelled ‘Baby Porridge’ back on the shelf. Two degrees, thinks Mummy.  Rebel Baby is grinning from ear to ear as she merrily gums her biscuit. SOA and The Baby exchange a knowing look whilst Mummy mutters something about having “proper breakfast now.”

If this is the cost of a steak dinner with chips and fizzy wine, thinks Mummy, I can live with biscuits for breakfast.

Yes, Slightly-Obsessed Auntie is one of RB’s very favourite people in the whole world. It is not hard to work out why.