A number of people we know are having babies at the moment. It’s funny how that seems to go in batches. Maybe there was nothing interesting on the telly back in early December 2013.
And that got me thinking … if I could write a letter to these babies, what would I say? What advice would I give to a newborn? So here goes …
I know, I know, it’s all a bit hard to take in. There’s so much that is new. There’s this bright stuff called light and this noisy stuff called sound. Don’t worry about that for now. Details, details. We’ll get to those later.
All you really need to know is this soft thing called a cuddle. Cuddles are good. If you let them, they will stay good for the rest of your life.
What’s that? You’ve got the hang of cuddling. Now, you want a bit of action? Okay, then try this. Open your mouth and … oh, just do the first thing that comes into your head.
Woo – that was loud, wasn’t it? That’s called crying. It’s your remote control for the world. What’s a remote control? It’s a fabulous toy that you can chew, dunk in your porridge and hide behind the sofa.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s stick with crying. Crying makes magical things happen. Feeling hungry? A good yell will bring food.
Need another cuddle? Work those lungs and it will happen.
Something monstrous happening in your nappy? It’s not too bad when it’s warm, but we don’t like it when it goes cold and clammy, do we? You know what to do.
Bawl it and they will come.
Incidentally, crying works best when the world is dark. All you need to do is cry and there will be light, a parent to comfort you, food, another cuddle and someone to take away the nappy monsters. Your Mummy and Daddy might look a bit bleary-eyed, but that’s just their way of showing that they love you. Especially at 3 am.
Oh, yes, Mummy and Daddy. I nearly forgot about them. They are the most wonderful and infuriating people in all the world. You will spend the rest of your life alternately relying on them utterly or knowing without a shadow of a doubt that they don’t understand you.
Let me make the introductions. The warm cuddly one with the milk, she’s the Mummy. The one with icky stains on the back of his shoulders is your Daddy. The slightly smaller ones sticking their tongues out at you are brothers and sisters. The one with a shiny head and hair growing out of his ears is your Grandfather.
I know it’s a lot to take in. If it all gets a bit complicated, just default to crying when you want something and gurgling when you’ve had it. Some of us keep on doing that for the rest of our lives.
Brace yourself, this next bit is going to be tough. There’s a good chance that your Mummy and Daddy aren’t properly qualified for being parents. Unless you do have some of those smaller big people called brothers and sisters, there’s a good chance that they’ve never done this before.
And that means that they are going to be making it up as they go along. Experimenting. On you.
So it’s your job to help them. Let them know when you’re not happy or they’re not doing something right. If you cry loud enough, you can let all their neighbours know too. That tends to work really well at 3 am.
I won’t lie to you. It’s a nasty world out there. We’ve got a whole bucket-load of long words to throw at you. There’s a thing called the environment and another one called the economy. Naughty people doing naughty things to other people. Maybe they’ve forgotten how to hug.
Don’t worry about that for now. All you need to know is that the world is a better place now that you are in it. Maybe you will be able to sort out the problems that we can’t?
I’ve got some good news and some bad news. The good news is that your parents love you more than you can imagine. You can’t stretch your arms wide enough to show how much they love you. Bigger than the biggest thing you can possibly imagine.
The bad news is that they are going to lie to you. Constantly. They will read you scary stories about monsters, and then tell you that monsters don’t exist. They will tell you about this fat man who will come down the chimney at Christmas, even though your house doesn’t have a chimney. And he doesn’t exist either.
The best thing you can do is to humour them. They have the best of intentions. Honestly.
The other thing about parents is that they can be insufferably smug. When you get to the talking bit, you will find that Mummy will always pass the difficult questions to Daddy. And Daddy will always try to confuse you with long words. Daddies think they are never wrong – a habit you will pick up in about 13 years time.
There are two things you can do when this happens. You could always try the why game. After every answer your Daddy gives, you ask “why?”. And keep on asking why until your Daddy explodes.
Or you could try asking them where babies come from. You might think that this should be something that they are experts in. But for some reason they never seem to be able to give you a straight answer.
That’s probably all we need for now. You’re looking tired. Close your eyes. Relax. We can think of new games to play when you wake up.
It’s a wonderful life, and it has just got a whole lot wonderfuller now that you are here.