Wednesday, 4 November 2009
He's a Dedicated Follower of Fashion
Dressing a baby is something of an acquired skill. It is also terrifying, awkward, mentally challenging and boring, all at the same time. Much like the rest of parenthood then, I suppose.
For those who've never had to dress a baby, let me try and describe it for you. First, catch your child. At Alex's stage, this isn't a problem, thankfully. He's almost always where you left him.
Next, remove any soiled clothing from your child. This is where it starts to get tricky. When you're dealing with a squirter that has managed to get all over the baby-grow, or vomit that has somehow seeped in between vest and jumper it can be a challenge working out how to get the damn thing off with smearing faeces over your child's face. (Social services generally take a dim view of coating your son in cack.) If in doubt, scissors are your friends. (Although Social Services also take a dim view of at home amputation, so be careful what you cut!) Despite this, getting kids undressed is relatively easy.
At this stage, you might as well change your hypothetical child's hypothetical nappy. Make sure to keep the clean clothes well away at this point. You'll be surprised at the range, volume and directionality achievable by a stream of urine, and you don't want to have to change your child's clothes twice. In dire circumstances remember, it is easier to strip yourself than your child and easier still to wash your skin than your clothes. Hands in particular make excellent impromptu flood barriers.
Now it's time to get the clean clothes on your child. By this point crying is inevitable. If you're lucky it will just be a pathetic mewling which tugs at the heart strings. If you're unlucky it will be a full blown, red faced howl which grinds the soul to pulp and shatters any nearby crystal. Try to ignore it. You'll fail, but at least you'll be thinking about ignoring it, rather than the scream itself.
Firstly, take the vest in one hand. Bunch it up so you can slip it over the child's head with your other hand. With your third hand, raise the child's head off the mat, while using your fourth and fifth hands to guide the arms into the sleeves... OK, let's try that again. With one hand, bunch up the vest. With your other hand grip your child's head, shoulders and lower back (one finger each) and use the remaining two fingers to guide the vest over the head. Get the vest stuck at about eye level. Drop child. (This is why a squishy changing mat is a good investment.) Wrestle vest down over head. Insert arms into holes.
I said, insert arms into holes.
Insert arms into... JUST BEND YOUR ARMS, DAMN YOU!
Breathe deeply. Count to ten.
Insert arms into holes. Pull vest down over body. Fasten poppers. Most vests seem to have three poppers in a row at the bottom. You will still only succeed in getting these fastened properly 50% of the time. Worse still, 25% of the time you will be too tired to care or notice your mistake and your child will end up looking like they dressed themselves.
Baby-grows are somewhat easier as they usually don't have to be pulled over the head. They do have significantly more poppers though, leading to a commensurately higher chance of popper related screw ups. If you're lucky, no-one will notice. If you're unlucky your child will look like the bastard offspring of Long-John Silver and Heather Mills.
Jumpers are like vests, only now you have to worry about the baby-grow's sleeves disappearing up the arm of the jumper. Jumpers are also more likely to come with buttons. Buttons should only be attempted by parents who took the Advanced Dressing Course with their local NCT group. Mere mortals fiddle with them once, then pretend that the jumper looks cooler undone. Besides, it's a surprisingly balmy -4C outside. And hypothermia is character building, right?
Throughout all of this, you will be struggling against a tiny person who DOES NOT want to get dressed. Babies are surprisingly strong when they want to be. Despite this, you'll not be willing to use any amount of force for fear of hurting them. If you do even the slightest amount of damage, (I broke one of Alex's fingernails), you will never forgive yourself.
Once your child is fully dressed, it's time to show your partner your handiwork. It is at this point at which your child will be sick. Go to step one. Lather, rinse, repeat.