Monday, 21 January 2013

Maternal Panic Sydrome

It’s snowing in the UK, so extensively that my brother has been stranded in Norway (where I’m informed that Norwegian airport staff find it comical that anywhere shuts for snow), and this has given me a bit of respite and a chance to write.

This last month has been one long string of “baby firsts” (which will be the subject of other posts). It’s also exposed a rift between the parenting style of myself and his mother together with an outbreak of MPS (not to be confused with PMS, an equally feminine condition for which you don’t require a baby!). Baby and I have discovered that his mum worries about a lot more stuff than I do, much to our amusement.

I had a lot of fun yesterday afternoon with a particularly cute onset of MPS. I was called over because the child was “bruised and bleeding from the head”. I followed a little known route to diagnosis which I think we’ll christen "the three L’s":

Hmmm, that looks like Marmite to me, and I was holding him whilst I had my breakfast.
[This stage was accompanied by a shriek of hygienic outrage]
Oh, that tastes like marmite as well, I’d better polish his head with my sleeve.
Whilst trying to explain how the Marmite got on his head, and that she worries too much!

I’m a big believer in the axiom “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, and so the baby’s first adventure with solid foods was a raisin one day whilst I was baking with him in the high chair rather than anything suggested by the glossy booklets provided by oh-so-concerned companies trying to sell baby food. He’s also been carried out into the snow to experience the tickle of cold on his face and still sparse scalp (against motherly protests). You would have thought I had delivered the line “I'm just going outside, and may be some time” rather than merely stepping into the driveway. My wife’s reaction is probably tinged by the fact that she’s never lived anywhere less than tropical for winter before.

I feel that people have an instinctive manner when it comes to raising children which is largely dependant on what was done with them as a child. Essentially, parents default back to what didn't kill them as infants. These differences would exist in any family, but are probably all the wider thanks to differences of race, nationality, religious outlook (not the same as a religious difference, I just expect any deity that created me to have a sense of humour!) and social class between my wife and I – for the record, she’s the “uptown girl” with the doctorate.

To me children are proto-adults, embarking on their first steps towards the rest of their life. For this reason I let him chew my uncle’s dog, stroke passing cows, watch cooking, and sample anything that doesn’t contain one of the forbidden foods (at this age, salt would be lethal, and processed sugar, dairy, meats and baked goods would not do him any good at all). To her he’s a doll, this special little self contained bundle who’s almost frozen in time. It’s probably why she fills a baby book whilst I make plans.


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