A 14kg scream with very long arms

I DON’T remember this!

I had five children and I don’t remember any of them being like this!

She’s eight months old, my granddaughter, and I was wrong about the father. It’s not the bloke who hugs trees – it must be Attila the Hun.

She learned to crawl last week. Nothing is safe. The light bulbs are at risk for heaven’s sake. Is there nothing a crawling baby can’t reach!

I had crawling babies. With five children I had them for years. I don’t remember living my early married life on a shelf. A very high shelf.

She can reach anything. Books, CDs, cups, knives, pictures, gutters. I have my doubts whether the television aerial is safe – and it’s on the roof.

Possibly she’s bewitched. She looks at very high, moveable objects with deep concentration and they come to her. Either that or she’s filling her nappy, and that will be coming to me.

I don’t remember my father changing my babies’ nappies. He used to do the dandly stuff and hand them back. Especially when they cried.

My granddaughter never cries. She simply moves straight past the first four gears and into fifth. I swear she can scream in six languages. I swear they can hear her in six countries.

Her mother — my daughter — says its frustration. Well, I’m frustrated but I’m not screaming.

This small thing has been around for eight months and it’s in control! That’s scary.

I want to be in control for change. Now I mention it I don’t think I ever have been. My wife has been in control; each one of my five children has been in control; and now a 14kg scream with very long arms is giving the orders.

And it’s going to get worse. She’s going to start walking around. Upright. Like a human being. Once she’s got used to having her own way (like, tomorrow) she’ll start having opinions. She’ll find out about pets: guinea pigs, dogs, horses.


The whole thing is too much. I know now why grandparents die. It’s easier. I can’t handle… what? Two, three decades? …while she spills hot coffee into her lap, skewers herself on a knife, crawls into the fire (actually this would be okay because, according to the lore of the l6th century, possessed children generally just flew up the chimney. It was only the ordinary ones who burned), gets bitten by dogs, kicked by horses, and I don’t even want to think about boys.

Why is this all so hard? I mean, I’ve done it five times before and it was easy. I brought up babies in the days when there were no seat belts, no baby seats, no childproof locks… just vigilance. And to be perfectly honest I don’t recall being very vigilant. Like the time two-year-old Harry wandered off and was discovered patting a cow’s leg – in the centre of a milling dairy herd.

If I could do that, why am I now having seizures every time this small pink thing with blue eyes wakes up? I have learned the definition of a good baby. It’s one that’s asleep.

And she does sleep. Trouble is I’m never there then. I’m too exhausted.

Actually, I was there yesterday, as she woke. Slightly damp around the cheeks (both sets, I think), and smelling of that hot baby smell which isn’t a smell at all, really, but a skin temperature that is unique to things that haven’t yet learned to walk. She didn’t crawl, and she didn’t yell.

She smiled.

Take her from me? Waddya mean, take her from me? I can manage a baby, for heaven’s sake! I’ve done this millions of times before. It’s easy.