Liability Baby

Today is a Very Important Day as Daddy has invited his Very Important Bosses round for lunch. Daddy is to cook a delicious and impressive meal, while Mummy is to look after The Baby and ensure she is well behaved – this is all that Mummy is to worry about.

Mummy spends at least a week attempting to teach The Baby table manners and rehearsing polite greetings such as waving and handshakes instead of RB’s usual face-grab and death-stare. She cleans The Baby and everything The Baby has touched / vomitted on,  including spending a good half hour chiselling dried-on Weetabix off the dining table lest it should cause offence to the Very Important Guests.

“Our guests will be here soon darling,” says Mummy as she puts The Baby down for a nap. “You have a nice long snooze while the grown ups eat lunch, then wake up to see them in an hour or two, just like we practised, OK?” RB gurns at Mummy and chews her toes with a knowing smile. “Sweet dreams poppet,” Mummy whispers as she tiptoes out of the nursery.

Mr and Mrs Boss arrive promptly for dinner and Daddy serves a delicious roast, exactly as planned. But no sooner has Mummy sliced into a roast potato than the baby monitor flickers to life. Mummy mentally curses herself for not unplugging it… or in fact buying it in the first place, back when she thought it would be desirable to amplify a baby’s screaming in surround sound.

“Ah, she is awake!” notices Daddy.

Bugger, thinks Mummy but out loud she says, “Lovely, I will just go and fetch her.”

Mummy goes up to the nursery to retrieve The Baby, who has pooed all over the inside of the cot. Not just a normal leaky nappy… an almighty tidal wave of foul-smelling liquid necessitating an entire change of clothes and bed sheets. Perfect timing, thinks Mummy, whose roast dinner is going cold. She chucks the whole lot in the bath to deal with later, rinses The Baby under the shower and sprays things generously with Dettol for good measure. She prays to the God of Nappies that it was a one-off. “Best behaviour darling,” hisses Mummy as she takes The Baby downstairs and plonks her in the highchair.

Rebel Baby has forgotten everything Mummy taught her. She greets the visitors with a death-stare and bangs on the table. She picks up every single piece of food one by one and purposefully deposits them over the edge of her tray onto the nice clean rug upon which she is seated.  Mummy is slowly dying inside.

“Are they baby people?” whispers Mummy to Daddy in the kitchen.

“Um… well, not especially,” says Daddy, and Mummy dies a little more.

“Raaaaa!” says Rebel Baby, and Mummy shoves some breadsticks in her mouth.

Soon, The Baby is getting whiny and wriggly, and Mummy notices a foul odour radiating from the high-chair.  It seems the earlier nappy was not a one-off. Marvellous.

“Won’t be a moment!” trills Mummy cheerfully, hoping no one else has noticed and mourning the loss of her hot roast potatoes. She whisks The Baby upstairs, leaving the Very Important Bosses to enjoy lunch with a hint of Eau de Excrement lingering in the air.

Another change, another spray of Dettol and one for Mummy for good measure. The roast potatoes will definitely be cold now, thinks Mummy with a sigh as she returns to the table. The Baby resumes her mission to relocate all of her food and toys to the floor, whilst intermittently shouting for no apparent reason whatsoever.

“Raaaaa! Raaaaa! Raaaaa!” shouts Rebel Baby at no one in particular.

“Shhhhhhhhh….” hisses Mummy to no avail, “what’s wrong?”

“Her shit is all over the floor!” observes Mr Boss and, for one heart-stopping moment, Mummy thinks he means literally.

It is clear that RB has no intention of sitting nicely through the rest of the meal. She whines and wriggles until Mummy lets her out of the chair onto her lap, then whines and wriggles until Mummy lets her sit on the table, which is something Mummy wishes she had never started doing. Hindsight is wonderful thing, muses Mummy as she decides it is definitely time to  stop letting the baby sit on the table… tomorrow. From her new seat she can reach Daddy’s beer and the wine, and makes it very clear that these are preferable to the sensible carrot and breadsticks which Mummy had so thoughtfully provided.

“Have a roast potato,” says Daddy, and RB is delighted.

Mummy is scowling at The Baby, but RB is pretending not to notice. There are Very Important Guests to give her an audience, and she intends to make the most of them. But they are not baby people thinks Mummy, mortified.  The Baby is whining again, and Mummy attempts to distract everyone with cheesecake.

Mr Boss talks to RB and pulls funny faces. She stares back, mesmerised, occasionally glancing sideways at Mummy from time to time as if to say, “Is it now I am supposed to be good?” Mrs Boss plays peekaboo and sings her songs, and RB claps along happily, delighted to be so thoroughly entertained.

“We are not really baby people,” says Mrs Boss, “we have dogs and horses.”

Mummy observes that they seem to be doing a better job than she was of keeping the small one happy, and wonders what in fact being a ‘baby person’ even means. She suspects it has something to do with ultimately having responsibility for the contents of the bath upstairs. Sometimes, Mummy wishes she was not a baby person.

When the Very Important Bosses come to leave, they are very kind about The Baby and pretend not to have noticed the smell or the whining.  Mummy and The Baby wave them off at the door, all smiles. Once the door is closed however, Mummy turns, stern-faced, to have serious words with The Baby. Unfortunately, something tells her RB is not taking it entirely seriously:




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