Before I had a baby, I had no idea how remarkably touching, tender and special the moment is when a baby stares in sheer adoration into the face of mommy. The first time I saw that look my heart just melted. Then I looked into the face of my squalling infant and thought somewhat bitterly, “How come you never look at me that way?”
When I first heard that my parents’ next-door neighbour would be having a little boy around the same time as Slytherin Baby I envisioned lovely play dates with my pink-cheeked, pink-dressed little princess playing sweetly with the blue-clad, rambunctious little boy. Yes, I know I claim to hate gender stereotypes but, apparently, I’m as prone to mainstream media brainwashing as everyone else. Fortunately, Slytherin Baby is not such a hypocrite. She refuses to conform to the narrow dictates that subscribe to our gendered behaviour.
The first hint I had that my little girl might not be a delicate little flower was the night I stood over her cot watching the little cherubim sleeping, her impossibly long eyelashes casting shadows on her cheeks, her rosebud-lipped mouth half open as she breathed gently. Then I heard it. Her eyes flew open and she stared at me in shocked indignation.
“That was all you kid,” I told her.
“What’s going on?” Himself asked as he stuck his head in the door.
“Well, she’s your daughter all right,” I told him over her outraged yells. “She just farted so loudly she woke herself up.”
I guess her behaviour when she met the neighbour’s kid shouldn’t have come as a surprise. The Other Mom walked in with her baby lying sweetly and gently in her arms, gazing at her with the same look of joy-struck adoration I wear when I see a plate of brownies. My infant was also in my arms; not so much lying as kicking, flailing and arching. The neighbour kid shot an incredulous look at the screaming banshee before turning politely away and returning his eyes to his mom.
“… her look plainly saying that if I wanted a Hufflepuff, I shouldn’t have named my unborn baby Slytherin Baby.”
“Please sit down,” I yelled. “I’ll just…”
I fumbled frantically for my secret weapon, the one thing guaranteed to produce instant quiet – her bottle. I shoved it into her mouth and enjoyed a blessed moment of silence. Then she started sucking. I glanced at her in horror – I’d never heard anything quite like that before – she sounded like a dehydrated warthog confronted with water for the first time in a month. Slytherin Baby looked coldly back at me, her look plainly said, “You’ll never silence me.” Her tiny hands clutched the oversized bottle, making her look like a frat boy downing a keg.
Once she had slurped, sucked and gargled her way through her bottle, I sat her up to meet her new friend. She squinted at the intruder and burped. Not one of her usual, normal-human burps. As the echo of her epic burp reverberated around the room, I muttered to her, “Why are you this way?”
She glanced at the other baby who cooed adoringly at his mother and then back at me, her look plainly saying that if I wanted a Hufflepuff, I shouldn’t have named my unborn baby Slytherin Baby.
“Are you quite done?” I muttered to her through gritted teeth.
Slytherin Baby cooed up at me, straightened her legs, arched her back and farted. An earth-shattering loud fart. The sort of fart that stops conversations and engulfs the room in its stench. The Other Mom and her Hufflepuff Kid were very polite and barely flinched. The conversation continued politely.
“Your child is gorgeous,” I told The Other Mom sincerely as I admired her child, who flashed me a glance and a shy, gummy smile. Out the corner of my eye, I saw Slytherin Baby turn to look at the interloper. My grip on her tightened slightly – the universal mom-signal of “Don’t you dare.” She ignored me. Her back arched, her legs straightened and a loud, wet explosion rang through the room. I closed my eyes in despair.
Of course, the changing station would be right next to the chair my guests were sitting in. I tried to calculate my chances of braving it out. I forced a smile, which froze as I felt Slytherin Baby straighten her legs once again. Like the aftershock of a massive earthquake, another eruption from my daughter’s pants echoed around us. A stinky miasma engulfed us. Hufflepuff Kid started to whimper. His mom shifted him slightly and he buried his head in her neck, clutched her shirt and calmed down.
Slytherin Baby screwed up her face, which was turning puce. “Sorry,” I mouthed over the howling.
“No problem,” called The Other Mother.
I felt like I was trapped in one of those nightmares where you can’t run fast enough as I pulled wet wipe after wet wipe out of the packet, trying to clean my baby, comfort her and breathe through my mouth. I just couldn’t seem to gain any traction as she writhed and screamed, and tried to kick her poo nappy onto our guests.
Finally, I had her clean. As I turned to deposit the nappy into the bin, I heard the blessed sound of silence. Immediately followed by the sound of a gentle tinkling. I spun around to see Slytherin Baby with her bare legs curled up in the air and a puddle of pee spreading over the changing mat, soaking into her clothes and seeping up into her hair. We all stared at her. Slytherin Baby smiled beatifically up at me and then at Other Mom and Hufflepuff Kid.
I leant over her and hissed threateningly, “I promise, when you’re 16 I’m reminding you both of how you behaved the first time you met him!”
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”.