Howard Columnist Howard
Recently my baby turned six months old. I haven’t really mentioned the wee ginger sprog since he popped out earlier in the year, mainly because I truly believe that babies are pretty dull. Don’t get me wrong, the milky sick, the crying, the general ‘ooo, new person’ is quite exciting, but until they start to show a bit of personality, they ain’t getting a mention here (you hear that, future un-concepted children of mine?)*.
As the weird, eastern European owner of a toy shop in Cumbria said when she looked at my sleeping baby’s face a couple of months ago, “he’s still more of an animal.” She was right, in a slightly rude way. But, as he’s hit the big six, the all-important 0.5, that animal is starting to be replaced by actual human. And guess what? He’s a %$£&ing nightmare.
I know I say this about all of my children, paying particular attention to the three-year-old whose soul was once probably the possession of a Tolkien-esque, world-smashing demon, but my baby seems to have developed similar bombastic tendencies. There is dried blood on the back of both my arms right now from where he has scratched at me with his tiny razor-sharp talons. It doesn’t help that his name is Fox. X Files reference.
My wife and I agree that, as well as being our biggest baby (11lbs at birth), he is also the earliest to want all the things. All the things. Get near him and he will snag you, grasping hold of any body part he can, and draw you into his Sarlacc Pit of a mouth, hungrily giggling as he does. Lay him down on the floor and he’ll flip over like one of those Boston Dynamic robots righting itself, ready to seek out his next victim. Run, Peppa Pig doll! He’s gonna suck on you!
But, as more of the human person starts to emerge from the primordial chubby-cheeked doughiness of the baby, I can’t help but remember the words of the toy shop owner. Granted, those words were memorable as they were delivered via a thick, hard-to-place, James Bond villain accent, but she got me thinking for a good long while after.
I think because we paint frescos on the walls of Florentine chapels, design and fly double decker aeroplanes, and have like totally been on the moon and stuff (you’ve done all three of those, right?), we think we’re somehow special; that we’re not just a bunch oddly upright and overly-concerned-with-our-phones animals.
Seriously, there’s nothing to differentiate between a human and, say, a beaver: a beaver looks after it’s young (after having the overwhelming compulsion to create them, ladies), finds food, likes to cuddle up in the warmth, and even builds stuff. Dams. Damn. In fact, the only difference I can think of between me and a beaver, is that the beaver knows how to build things on instinct, whereas the most recent LEGO set I constructed was a bit wonky and fell apart as soon as I… erm… my children played with it.
You might be suggesting that I differ from said hypothetical beaver by the fact that I’m questioning the very nature of our being; that I’m showing signs of intelligence beyond a desire to survive and reproduce. But I’m not really. And don’t get me started on the whole reproduction thing. Four kids.
Right now, I’m writing these words on a train, early in the morning. All I can think about is returning to the safe, enveloping snuggle-pit that is my bed, and the warm, creamy thighs of my wife. TMI? Anyway, my ongoing thoughts and feelings dwell almost entirely on the animalistic, only occasionally “elevating” to human standard when tackling a difficult dilemma, such as being asked, “drinking in or taking out?” Therefore, there is no real difference between me and my six-month-old: despite knowing how to fix the router when the internet goes down, and to steer clear of Micklegate on a race day, we’re essentially the same.
That’s probably why we get on so well. I must admit that when I see him, I want to grab hold of his little pudding hands and stuff them in my mouth. I want to kiss his bloody face off. Urgh, he’s just so lovely! Yes, every item of clothing I own has a stained dribble patch on the shoulder, but so do all of his from my wet kisses with which I carpet-bomb his tummy. MMM, BABIES. I’m letting it all out; all six months of withheld baby joy.
I am, however, excited to see the child he’ll grow up to be. I currently have one who is caring and creative, one who is sensitive and inquisitive, another who is a blond-haired wrecking ball, and now this wee guy. What other personality types are there? I’m hoping for Hollywood child actor, so we can really cash in on him.
Oh, but he’s ginger…
*That statement probably just made my wife automatically ovulate.