Friday, 8 January 2010
Christmas Time, Mistletoe and Whine
Do you remember Christmas as a kid? Wild with excitement and happiness, rushing downstairs to marvel at the visitation of Santa? Never quite the same as an adult, is it? I gather that once your own kids are old enough to enjoy it, Christmas becomes magical again. Four months isn't old enough for that though. For Alex, Christmas was just prolonged road trip with more people than normal.
Travelling with a baby is at once both wonderful and highly stressful. It's great getting out and about and seeing friends and relatives. It's also nice having other people cook for you, or be available to take Alex for a few minutes so you can have a cheeky nap. But it's also a touch disturbing. You're living out of suitcases a lot of the time and packing the car requires a degree in non-Euclidean geometry, especially at Christmas when presents are in evidence. Plus Alex ends up pretty much always on show. This isn't really a problem, but it gets tiring. Sometimes you all just need to sit down quietly as a family and do nothing. That's hard to do while visiting relatives. Eventually, someone throws a wobbly.
This time around, it was Alex who Got His Rage On(tm). He saved it until we were up with my Dad at Mar Lodge on the 30th. We left him with his Grandads/Great Uncles/2nd Cousins while we aimed for a nap. Ten minutes later, he was howling, totally inconsolable. When Alex Gets His Rage On(tm), there are a few obvious things to check. Hungry? Wet nappy? Too hot? Too cold? Tired? Bored? This was none of the above. As far as we can tell, he had simply had enough of all these other people. He just wanted a quiet time with his parents. In the end, the only thing that calmed him down was skin to skin contact with Nic. (Strip baby, strip mum, clamp baby to breast, for those yet to experience the joys of the NCT.) We spent a couple of hours quiet time with him after that. Gave him a bath, cuddles etc. Hardly the restful afternoon Nic and I had planned, but at least he calmed down.
My Baby and Other Animals
It's always interesting watching other people with Alex and the large numbers of relatives visited throughout the festive period provided some fascinating opportunities. It's particularly noticeable that some people are just good with babies, plain and simple. For some it's probably experience (my Uncle Tim, father of five). For others, it just seems to come naturally, lucky buggers. (My cousin Matthew, youngest of Tim's five and utterly inexperienced in matters baby, is more confident than some new fathers I've met. He's good with four year olds too.)
I also realised just how much Nic and I have improved in our confidence in dealing with Alex. He's that bit bigger and stronger, which actually makes life easier as he's more able to support his own limbs and head. But we're also much more confident it carting him about, propping him up, chucking him about and so on. Two months ago, I doubt we'd have considered taking him into the bath with us. Now, it's a special treat for everyone. Alex loves splashing about in the grown up bath, and watching him lark about is a joy, pure and simple.
We're also a much better team than we once were. Much of tasks of dealing with Alex don't need to be articulated any more. If we're doing a joint changing session, we know which of us is on what duty. Bath times are a well oiled machine. We can get him fully dressed in seconds flat, without getting in each other's way. You don't realise how competent you've become until you try and do it with someone else as your wingman. Suddenly socks aren't being put on at the right time, or they've not got the nappy ready. It's nice that they help, but you can't avoid thinking that it might have been quicker if they'd just left you alone.
One week is a long time in politics. Two weeks is an age in infant development. When we left, Alex was just about showing some interest his toy bar on his bouncy seat. Over the next two weeks, he started sucking his thumb, rolling over (front to back only so far), has worked out how to make his toy bar play tunes and developed an affection for a specific toy (Monsieur Le Toucan, a.k.a. Timmy). It's slightly strange to watch. I kind of feel it should take longer somehow. It was only four months ago that he was just about able to cry, sleep and excrete. How can he have a favourite toy already?
He's also had his first illness. A foul cold, initially contracted by Nic, then me and Alex. (Poor Nic was ill for the last three days of holiday and recovered, sort of, just in time to have to look after me and Alex!) He was pretty good with it, to be honest. (Better than me, anyway.) It's still hard though. There's just a tiny loss of innocence that seems to be associated with it. I swear he would look at me, snuffling, with an expression on his face that said "why aren't you fixing this?" (In reality, I'm sure it was probably "hmm, I might have a poo later", but that doesn't stop me from thinking it.) In the grand scheme of things, however, a cold isn't bad. Heck, he's recovered from it far quicker than me, and is happily gurgling away again.