“So,” a friend recently asked, “is she a good baby?”
“Um,” I hesitated. “Well, I haven’t had an in-depth conversation with her about her values and morals, but she hasn’t robbed a bank or masterminded any great crimes…” Slytherin Baby gave me a look. “That I know of,” I amended.
Slytherin Baby went back to sucking on her dummy chain.
I really hate this question. I mean, what makes a baby bad? I suspect of course that people are talking about sleep.
The first time the issue of sleep came up was when I was pregnant.
“Right,” I said as I muted the soccer match on TV and sat down next to my husband. “Co-sleeping. We’re against that. I find it difficult enough sharing a bed with you. I’m not putting the whole family into one bed.”
“Don’t worry. It’s perfectly normal for a spouse who has trouble sleeping to sit over their snoring partner with a pillow in their hands, working out the life insurance policies.”
“But you’re over six foot tall, and even quite a small baby will exacerbate the space issue.”
“Um – ”
“We’re not really in favour of sharing a bedroom either. She’s got a lovely cot –”
“A beautifully painted room –”
“Again, I know!”
“So she must use it. I mean, we’ll have to be flexible; things never go according to plan when it comes to babies, so we might have to put a camp cot in our room for the first couple of weeks.”
“I don’t want to be rude, but what are you on about?” Himself asked, his eyes straying to Ronaldo silently scoring.
“We’re making parenting decisions” I informed him. “The parenting books advise we discuss and agree on all parenting decisions. It will help keep our relationship strong throughout the disruption to our lives. Now, dummies. We’re indifferent…”
The next conversation on the matter took place several months after Slytherin Baby was born.
“You know I built a lovely cot for this child,” Himself muttered.
“Shhh! It’s the middle of the night; you’ll wake the baby!”
“She’s already awake. She’s been kicking me for the past half hour.”
I sighed, rolled over, pulled Slytherin Baby away from Himself’s half of the bed and put her on my chest. She pummelled me a couple of times to plump me up to perfection before settling down, quite content.
“I didn’t count on meeting the one person in the world whose will is stronger than my own.”
Yes, I know. I’m making a rod for my own back, spoiling my child, and I’ll end up with a co-dependent teenager who will never be able to function in the real world. And, in principle, I firmly believe in gentle sleep training. Yes, I know. I will be psychologically scaring my child, making my child anxious and I’ll end up with a distrustful teenager who will never be able to function in the real world. And no matter whether I’m trying to sleep train or giving up and rocking the kid to sleep, I myself can’t sleep because of the angst about the damage I’m doing to my kid in getting her to go to sleep.
It would seem Slytherin Baby did not inherit my penchant for angst. She knows precisely what she wants. And what she wants is to stay awake!
She has uncovered the great adult secret – that we bring out the best toys and do the most exciting things as soon as her eyes close. Her solution is to never go to sleep again.
I have always struggled to sleep, so I suspected that I might have a child that didn’t sleep well, but I wasn’t too worried. After all, I am nothing if not stubborn. I would win in the end through sheer perseverance. I would put my kid into good sleeping habits!
I didn’t count on meeting the one person in the world whose will is stronger than my own. A will that sees me starting each day determined to put my child into good habits and setting a precedent for the rest of our lives, with me in charge. And ends each night with me rocking my child to sleep and muttering, “Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t”. Slytherin Baby pats my arm in sympathy as she nods off.
Amy Lalouette lives with Himself (her very patient husband) and Slytherin Baby. By day she’s an English teacher and by night she reads, writes, holds murder mystery parties and does belly dancing. Unfortunately, all this interferes with her lifelong ambition to have a spotless house and an empty laundry basket! She records her experiences (and confusion) of pregnancy and being a first-time parent on her personal blog “Mommy’s Off her Meds”.