Monday 22 October 2012

Death Wish

It’s an astonishing fact that there are now about seven billion people inhabiting this planet. That’s seven thousand million of us! And what’s the most amazing thing about this – other than that there are an awful lot of people having an awful lot of sex? Well, it’s that every single, solitary, one of those seven billion people had, from the age of next to nothing until at least 4, an uncontrollable urge to try to kill themselves! How on earth did we reach seven billion when every single kid on the planet seems to have been born with a death wish? 

Take young Marty as an example. In the early days, when an inability to move much tended to cramp his style, he would contentedly dice with death with mundane acts such as choking on his own vomit or trying to eat his pillow. However, once he’d learnt to move, a world of opportunities for an early demise where his to grab... or suck, or poke, or eat.

Put him in a room filled with soft, cuddly, perfectly safe toys and he would, within minutes, be throwing Tigger and his sidekicks aside and making a bee-line for the electrical socket in the corner of the room where, if left to his own devices, he would spend the morning trying to get the cover off so he could electrocute himself in spectacular fashion.

From the very moment he learnt to walk it became clear that his sole aim was to go as fast as he possibly could. This achieved, stage two was to go as fast as he possibly could into wholly immovable objects. Not a week has gone by where he has not been sporting at least one enormous bruise.

We recently returned from our summer holiday – We went to Wales so treat the word ‘summer’ in its loosest possible sense. On the very first day Marty managed to almost knock himself out by running head long into the dining table, a collision that resulted in him sporting an enormous black eye for the whole of the holiday.

Not content with concussion he diligently went to work on the gas fire – which, despite being a ‘family’ caravan home, didn’t actually have a fire guard. We spent hours building elaborate barricades around the fire and Marty spent hours trying to thwart our defences. On the last day of our stay, whilst his parents were busy packing everything into the car, he finally broke through and achieved his holiday goal – he got burnt!

As I write I can hear the battle going on between him and his mum; she wants to cook dinner, he wants to climb into the oven! I tell you now, if we all followed young Marty’s guide to health and safety there should be no more than about 20 of us on this planet... and 9 of those would be in hospital at any one time.

Sunday 14 October 2012

Going Gooey

I always expected Marty to change - after all, a complete failure to grow-up and develop would have condemned the poor boy to a career in politics. What has been a surprise though have been the changes in me.

Of course you’re told by everyone who’s ever had a kid that “You'll change” but they usually mean the trivial things like looking as if you've had a good eight hours sleep, or possessing the ability to leave your home in under an hour, or popping out to the pub for a beer, or basically doing anything on an impulse. I’ll grant you that at 4 in the morning ‘sleep’ doesn’t feel like a trivial matter but, when you think about it, feeling knackered is hardly the stuff of philosophers and poets.

No, what I’ve noticed are things like going “Ah!” when I hold up my boys tiny little coat, or suddenly finding myself smiling in that vacant parental fashion when I see other young children. In other words, I have gone surprisingly - and slightly worryingly - gooey.

I hadn’t really realised this until I was actually putting some of Marty’s clothes into his draw and finding that I couldn’t even get my hand down the leg of a pair of his trousers to turn them right-side out. I knew he was vertically challenged but I hadn’t realised just how astonishingly small he was. It was at that point that I actually heard myself saying “Arh! He’s soo cute!”... I was shocked I can tell you!

Then I thought about it. Over the last year or so I’ve found myself feeling tearful listening to things on the news that involved small children and getting positively lachrymous at the sort of films I used to scoff at.

Before Marty arrived I’d always regarded small children with supreme indifference or, if that wasn’t possible, then with extreme reluctance. It wasn’t that I didn’t like them it was just that, at best, I couldn’t see much point in them and at worse they were rather annoying, irrational and noisy little things that I just didn’t understand. These days I seem to find all little kids delightful. I dare say I’ll discover some exceptions to this new rule but so far all kids suddenly seem to be cute.

I suspect part of this new found gooeyness is because Marty is at a perfect age; he’s learning to talk but hasn’t learnt to answer back, he knows how to cry but has yet to learn the full on tantrum. Even his walk is part locomotion and part comedy routine, in other words he’s just plain gorgeous at the moment.

I have a horrible feeling that this will all change in the coming months – he’s already using the cry to get an awful lot of what he wants and, if he’s anything like his dad, he’ll soon have an answer for absolutely bloody everything... so I may soon be looking at all children with a feeling of dread before the years out.