Go To Sleep, Little Baby
Helpfully, May Blossom and Pipsqueak look like twins born four years apart, so I can illustrate this post with a picture of my own child to protect the identity of my niece. And yes, her hair was real.
Two months ago my brother, Superchief, and sister-in-law, Doctor V, had their first baby. Pipsqueak, as she will be known on this blog, is, like both of her cousins before her, a beautiful, sparkly, dark-haired bundle of Refusal To Sleep. She is one of those babies who catch your eye and won’t break your gaze. It’s like she was born in a staring competition. I fear she is extremely clever, and I wish her parents well with that.
Although they live very nearby, since Pipsqueak was born my children have almost constantly had some noxious virus or other that you wouldn’t want to expose a newborn to, which upsets them very much because they adore Sweet Baby Cousin Pipsqueak, as Garnet has dubbed her. He was actually quite cross about her to begin with, and claimed he was the only baby in town and would I please open up my tummy so he could get back in. When I refused, because I am mean like that, he settled for shoving himself up the front of my top, where he spent a good part of Pipsqueak’s first few weeks of life. He hadn’t even met her at that stage, because of the snot, but he was distinctly unimpressed with losing his position as Baby of the Family. Of course when he eventually did meet her he was just as smitten as everyone else and has been nothing but lovely about and to her ever since.
He does have some questions about how she is being raised, though. Two weeks ago Pipsqueak visited us and because it was a very cold day her mother had tucked her little hands into the built-in mittens that come on the ends of the sleeves of some baby suits. Garnet walked into the living room, did a full-on double take and exclaimed in surprise ‘She have socks on she hands!’ Ignoring all Pipsqueak’s mother’s explanations, he spent the rest of the visit trying to free Sweet Baby Cousin Pipsqueak from her bonds, periodically throwing withering glances at his aunt who doesn’t even know which appendage socks go on.
At every opportunity May Blossom demands to hold the baby and they stare into each others’ eyes for ages. They look so similar that it’s like watching a re-enactment of the myth of Narcissus. May Blossom takes her role as a cousin terribly seriously and on more than one occasion has worried aloud about how she will manage to teach EVERYTHING to both Garnet and Sweet Baby Cousin Pipsqueak. I’m not sure she is aware that sometimes babies’ parents are involved in their upbringing, alongside their four-year-old cousins, and that the responsibility is not solely hers.
Sometimes in the evenings Superchief and Doctor V call and we chat about babies and their nonsensical ways. Superchief is amazed and proud of his daughter’s internal altimeter. She knows when he is lowering her into the cot and she wakes up for another squawk. She likes to stay up late at night, then wake every hour to drink a sip or two of milk from her mother. This is understandably trying for her parents. I am no help. When they ask me what H and I did when May Blossom and Garnet used to try such bullshit at night, I struggle to remember. Then I do remember and I realise that I had no solutions. I mostly followed the Giving In method, with a bit from the Going Quietly Loopy school of baby-raising. I end up saying encouraging things like ‘You know, four or five years goes a lot faster than you think it will. Eventually she will stop breastfeeding and start reading books. Until then, hang in there! You’ll be amazed at how you don’t actually crash the car all the time when you haven’t slept for three weeks. ’ I remember enough to know that if anyone had said that to me back then, I would have wanted to fire a nappy cannon at their head. Pipsqueak’s parents kindly haven’t done that to me yet. Probably because they are too sleep-deprived to aim.