I’ve got a niece. At the time of writing she will be two days and nearly twelve hours old. Not much is it? Imagine living in a world where you missed some of the big defining moments of the last 20 years, like the invasion of Iraq. Hard to believe, isn’t it? To be fair to her, she also missed out on last week’s episodes of Coronation Street. Swings and roundabouts, I suppose. It just seems odd to me that anyone would be born from 1990 onwards. I was born in ’87, so I only just scrape through but it’s like when you meet kids that were born in ’93 or ’96. What have they got to show for themselves? At least we had the Spice Girls and Pat Sharp. Shocking, isn’t it? Not that my niece is aware of her sheltered upbringing. She’s too busy doing what she can to make things uncomfortable for me.
Take the other day; the day I met her. She’s beautiful and tiny and just what you’d expect from a baby, i.e. she doesn’t do much. It’s not that I expected her to cartwheel into the room and let off fireworks to announce her arrival, but there could have been a bit more ceremony. I mean, she just lies there and sleeps. She doesn’t even cry like a normal baby, it took a good few prods to the ribs to get any sort of reaction out of her, and even then she pulled a face and fell back to sleep. Don’t get me wrong; I love a good nap, everyone does – right after lunch, just before Deal or No Deal – perfect. But all she does is sleep. I can’t imagine she’s that tired. Presumably she’s awake through the night; sat bolt upright in her cot with bloodshot eyes as though she’s been on a 24hour bender of Pro-Plus and Red Bull. If it wasn’t for the fact she’s a chronic squirm-er when she sleeps, you’d be hard pushed to tell the difference between her and a doll. Even some dolls have the common courtesy to wet themselves, just to let you know all’s well.
Squirm she most certainly does, and that just makes it all the more difficult for me. Now, I love kids and babies but I’m not built to deal with them. How are you supposed to hold them? It’s like trying to carry a bag of marshmallows with a bomb inside – they’re not that heavy or that big but you know if you drop them there’ll be hell to pay. What’s worse is that she’s handed round like some sacred game of pass-the-parcel, people awkwardly trying to make the drop off. Drug dealers have operated with a greater degree of nonchalance. So the turn falls to me, and there I am; juggling this squirmy mess of limbs with everyone shouting “support the head” like a group of teachers during a team building exercise. How can you support the head when “E.T” seems intent on throwing it back? If she’s not careful she’s going to give herself whiplash. The last thing I need is a law suit.
So, I finally I manoeuvre her into a position that isn’t far from being comfortable, certainly for her, anyway. I’m not quite so lucky; I’ve shifted my weight to my left buttock and am holding her head up with my right arm. If you remove the baby from this picture then I look as though I’m suffering from a virulent bout of piles. The narcoleptic princess then falls into a deeper sleep, with no intention of awakening. Meaning I’m stuck there, my body contorted like some sort of acrobat in down time, holding this tiny pink sloth, too scared to move. And Deal or No Deal’s on. Is it really worth missing my nap for this? Yes.
Dedicated to Isla Lily, lovely to meet you.
From: 19th September, 2012.