Originally posted on BeatReview.
In my 24 years I have had little experience of babies until recently (my cousin had a baby last year and I’ve seen him a record number of times since he’s been born). Most of the interaction with family babies happened when I was too young to remember, or care, about small squidgy things that wailed and shat (that was it as far as I could discern. Of course, I didn’t consciously form the word ‘shat’. It was ‘poo’ then. Tee hee).
It’s a weird thing, other people’s babies. What I have managed to discern is that something weird must have happened to me in the last year because I quite like them now. The only logical conclusion is that I’m growing up. Not enough to want one of my own yet – I haven’t quite reached that level of maturity. But other people’s are ok, for a while. There are all sorts of rules, though, aren’t there?
You have to coo a certain amount to gain the trust of the parents (and because it’s like a freaking LAW that you must coo over someone else’s baby. However much it looks like a screwed-up prawn (except yours. Yours is beautiful). Then you have to exercise ALL restraint from saying ‘Can I have a go?’ before said parent is ready to relinquish said baby. They have to offer, unless you know them really well. Even then it’s a struggle sometimes. Then there’s the queue you have to join. Family events are a nightmare. There’s at least twenty people who got there before you and they’ve put the legwork in – asking about the birth, and whether little Petunia has the latest Baby Gap babygro in pink or yellow (‘you got the matching bib too? She soo pulls it off’).
So the moment finally comes and you have the baby. But there are so many dilemmas. Are you allowed to stand up? Is it acceptable to ask if you’re allowed to stand up at twenty four? Should you sit down just in case you drop it? Are you supporting its head enough? HOW THE FUCK DO YOU HOLD THIS THING?!
Then you’re holding this small, red, living human and it’s great. You’ve got the hang of holding it and you even managed to subside its wails. But it could do a multitude of things. And these are things that will guarantee baby going back to doting mummy or daddy. 1) It might start crying (even when you, feeling foolish, jiggle it around and sling it over your shoulder). 2) It might be sick on me. CHRIST It’s a bit of spit with some extra bits but it’s still sick GET IT OFF ME NOW. 3) It starts wriggling. Ok, I get it, you hate me already. Go back to someone better. I’m going to sulk in the corner. 4) Or worse, a pungent smell fills your nostrils and the nappy swells. That’s a definite red card.
But there’s nothing quite like holding a baby. Some weird hormone in us just makes us talk in weird voices, smell their heads and want to squeeze them.
That’s until the next person decides you’ve finishes your turn and hovers round you like a bad smell with their arms outstretched.