DOES THIS CHILD HAVE A PARENT?

It is 9pm and Piglet is asleep in his bouncy chair.

I am pretty sure that this is VERY BAD, as apparently babies are not supposed to sleep in their bouncy chairs.  Especially without the little seat belt attached to strap them in; the little seatbelt that Piglet has recently discovered and now regularly tries to eat.  However, for the last few nights, Piglet has (finally!) been going to sleep at the very reasonable time of 8.30pm (HALLELUJAH), with the result that Mummy is now in a quandary.  Do I join him in the bedroom at 8.30pm so I can keep an eye on him, or do I put him in his bouncy chair in the living room for a bit, so that if he wakes up I can immediately rock him back to sleep?  I have cautiously chosen the latter for now, on the assumption that should this happy routine continue, I will start putting him in his cot earlier.  Trouble is, I cannot now move Piglet to the cot while he is asleep, as then when he wakes he will freak out and start screaming, as he will not know how he got there, so now I have to wait for him to wake naturally so that I can move him into the cot while he’s awake.  This is according to the oft-quoted Golden Rule of Baby Sleep: put them down in their cots drowsy but awake. Only then will they learn to go to sleep on their own in their cot, and only then will you be liberated from the potential future scenario of a child who wants to be rocked to sleep, preferably in your arms, and then sleep in your bed for ever and ever until they finally leave home at the age of forty five.

AHA!  He has just woken up and I have placed him in his cot.  I am no longer the cruel, neglectful mother making her child sleep in a bouncy chair instead of a proper bed like a properly cared for child.

Anyway, went to see the health visitor today.  I was given the usual large-print leaflets about what the local children’s centre is for (special groups for fathers and male carers; how to live a healthy lifestyle).  I was disappointed, having settled Piglet to sleep and sat down with a nice cup of tea to read these rather hefty tomes, that they took mere seconds to read, as consisted of mostly pictures and a few massive words.  I know the NHS means well and is to be commended for trying to help people out, but not sure why it is automatically assumed that all men are feckless, irresponsible and unable or unwilling to spend any time with any children who may be related to them, and that as I have had a baby, I must have never heard of fruit or vegetables and be buying my groceries at Chicken Cottage.  Not to mention the fact that most of this literature seems to be written for someone with a reading age of five.  Then the health visitor (who also meant well) remarked about how happy Piglet must be to see his father every day and I had to say he didn’t have one, thus unintentionally perpetuating the unfortunate stereotype of feckless babyfathers.  Also had to fill in a questionnaire which asked me how I felt about being a parent (‘fantastic”) and whether I was experiencing domestic violence (“no”).  I’m not sure that many people with answers that varied greatly from those I gave would be willing to say so on a questionnaire, but as I said, they mean well.  And after all I don’t particularly want them coming round to my house to check for domestic violence because they might notice that I haven’t cleaned the kitchen.

I also wonder why it is, when it is automatically assumed in the literature that your first language is not English and that you may even be an asylum seeker, that when it comes to getting anything done or having a conversation with an actual human, everything is so impossibly complicated that if you were an asylum seeker who didn’t speak a word of English, you would probably end up sitting in the waiting room all day wondering what was going on; that is if you could even find the entrance to the clinic.  When I got there the entrance was deserted and the door didn’t appear to be working, so I had to wait for someone to come out so that I could actually get in, and when I managed to find the receptionist and ask where we needed to go for our appointment with the health visitor, she looked at me as though I was Oliver Twist proffering an empty bowl of gruel at the workhouse master, asking for some more, and gave me what turned out to be completely inaccurate directions.  When I finally asked another receptionist where I needed to go (shortly after the same receptionist had shouted across the crowded waiting room “DOES THIS CHILD HAVE A PARENT?” at the top of her voice because a small boy-mercifully not Piglet, who was sleeping peacefully in his perambulator-was fiddling with the blood pressure machine) she too seemed to assume by her tone that I was incapable any kind of rational thought, rather than was just someone who happened not to have visited the health centre before and so could hardly be expected to be on familiar terms with the layout, and told me that I had to go to a completely different waiting area.

Once we managed to get inside and actually see the health visitor, fortunately Piglet was on his best behaviour and seemed to enjoy basking naked in the bowl of the baby weighing scales.  In fact he is loving being naked in general at the moment, and it is getting to be quite a struggle to change his nappy, as he cannot stop kicking his legs around at a ridiculous pace every time they have a modicum of freedom.  I do hope he’s not going to start taking his clothes off and running around naked in public.  I don’t think I could stand the humiliation of the receptionist at the health centre hollering “DOES THIS CHILD HAVE A PARENT?’ at me.

I’d have to blame the proverbial feckless and irresponsible babyfather.

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