I’ve wanted to write about babies and the delightful quirks associated with them for some time. It is fitting in a sense that this post coincides with the end of a week in which my wife – for the first time since Oluwadamisi, our son, was born – has been away from him for an extended period of time. In the two nights that she’s been back, boy, have we seen some drama! Here’s some insight – from the perspective of a 10-month-old father – into the complicated, mind-boggling world of babies.
Let me give parents-to-be some free, useful advice: don’t waste your hard earned money on those things they call toys. As far as babies are concerned, they are an utter waste of money. Invest instead in durable and inexpensive mobile phones, remote controls and laptops, for these are the things babies find most attractive. They ignore the splash of red and green easily within their reach and instead gun for the TV remote control – in all its majestic blackness – that you had tucked away where you thought they wouldn’t notice it. It is as though they can tell that all those brightly coloured toys are cheap and worthless. Having a baby is expensive enough, save some money on toys until they are toddlers.
Don’t be deceived by those cute pictures of babies in blissful slumber; it is often hard work to get them to sleep. Generally, with adults, the more tired one is, the easier it is to fall asleep. Not so with babies. The more exhausted they are, the crankier they are. The crankier they are, the harder it is for them to fall asleep. Twisted baby logic. There’s a lot of drama with babies, but the drama that comes with sleep trumps them all. They want to be rocked and nursed to sleep, and they don’t care if it’s 3 in the morning. On other days, they wake up at 4 am, wanting to play.
Picture this: after two uninterrupted hours of turning the living room upside down, it looks like Damisi has finally worn himself out. I pick him up, sling him over my shoulders and begin pacing about the room. Ten minutes later, I spy his shut eyes in the mirror. Just to be sure, I pace about for a few more minutes. I go up to the bedroom and place him, gingerly, on the bed. He is now fast asleep. I shut the bedroom door gently behind me and go back downstairs, already relishing the prospect of an hour or two of serenity whilst he is asleep. Five minutes later, I return to the bedroom to get my internet dongle and there he is seated upright on the bed, wide-eyed. My wife calls them “power naps” – short, intense 5 – 10 minutes of sleep that leave him reinvigorated, fully charged for another couple of hours of wearing himself and everyone else out. If ever there was a misnomer, “slept like a baby” is one.
Living on the edge
It is true that the intrinsic nature of man is to be disobedient and it is that which is forbidden that we are most drawn to. Damisi has convinced me that much. I’ve already talked about how babies are drawn more to remote controls than to their toys, but their proclivity for danger and the forbidden goes beyond this. Enjoy those first few months when you can leave your baby somewhere and return to find her in exactly the same spot. As soon as they can crawl, babies are all about living dangerously. I find it perverse that it is the things that pose the greatest risk to them that they are most bent on playing with – wires and electric sockets are easy examples. They never stay in the middle of mum and dad’s king-sized bed to play; rather you are most likely to find them precariously at the edge of the bed, one turn away from falling over and landing on the floor with a thud. The edge of the staircase; the top of the center table; the base of the standing fan: these are the little ones’ favourite places to play.
They say babies only cry when they are hungry, tired, frightened, upset or in discomfort. That is not entirely correct. They also cry for no reason at all; or if we must attribute a reason, because they are babies and crying is what babies do. It is this last category of crying that tests my patience the most. The others I perfectly understand and can accommodate. On those occasions when I am convinced Damisi is crying for no reason at all, I sometimes wish we could leave him to cry, just so as to find out how long he can keep it going. Luckily for him, his mum would never give me a chance to see this evil experiment through. Come to think of it, why didn’t I try this out whilst she was away?
… & some more drama
As a general rule, babies are most comfortable, when adults are in the most discomfort. How else does one explain the fact that they find it easiest to fall asleep, when someone is carrying them whilst standing or walking about? In some cases, the instant you attempt to sit to rest your aching back, they begin to fuss. You return to an upright position, and they go back to being quiet. You can almost hear them say: I’m not asleep yet; how dare you sit.
They also seem to have a knack for disrupting intimacy. I’m sure a lot of couples can relate to this. If they are not waking up whilst you guys are just about to get it on, they make sure they successfully wear you out beforehand. Why does it have to be the night you put a bottle of wine in the fridge and are looking forward to having the missus to yourself that your little one decides not to go to sleep without creating a fuss? Almost as if they have an inkling that what you guys are up to could result in another baby that would take their place in the pecking order, and are not prepared to take any chances.
It has to be one of life’s great mysteries how one so little has turned our lives completely upside down. But I wouldn’t trade any of it for anything else on earth. To my little man: here’s to loads of more drama.
1. “Look at this poor fella” – Olutola Bella
2. “Don’t I just love when he is like this” – Olutola Bella
3. “Oluwadamisi” – Olatoun Okunnu