Tag Archives: babies

Travelling light?

The travel cot. A misnomer of the most epic proportions if ever there was one. ‘The so-fucking-heavy-your-arm-might snap-off-at-the-elbow cot’ would be more accurate. I can barely travel across the bedroom with it let alone on holiday, it is so bloody heavy and cumbersome. We are away for a few days and it has taken three months to pluck up the courage to sleep anywhere other than at home, due to the ridiculous load of baby shit you are forced to take with you. Three nights away equates to a car boot full of paraphernalia, including the aforementioned travel cot that takes up a disproportionate amount of space in relation to the baby it is meant to house, and so footwells and back shelves are called into action as overflow storage. A trip away takes a week to plan and half a day to pack for. I am the first to admit that when it comes to organisation and logistics, I can err a tad on the side of over-zealousness. Okay, I admit, it, I am obsessive about making lists and forward planning. But even I was getting a little narked at having to create revise three of the ‘stuff to pack’ list just because there was just so much sodding crap to remember.

But I digress. Back to the travel cot. Which fucking morons designed this thing? Granted, it does fulfil half its function. It does an okay job as a cot. But then again, so would a large cardboard box. But the travel bit? I am surprised Trading Standards haven’t slapped a law suit on them for a hideous breach of trading standards. Or at least just slapped them.

Yet its resemblance to a barrow load of breeze blocks in the weight department is not the only thing that is fundamentally flawed about this sleeping apparatus. It makes me wonder what the bloody hell the designers were thinking. 

“Okay Brian, new brief in. For a travel cot.”

“A what?”

“Travel cot. For babies. You know, those horrible small things that shit a lot.”

“Oh, right.”

“Look, I know we’d both rather be designing Ferraris, but…”

“I’d rather be picking my arse than designing a travel cot.”

“Listen, you can do both, it’s not fucking rocket science. We’ll be done by lunch.”

“That’s ten minutes from now.”

“Precisely. So. A cot. That travels. Ideas?”

“I don’t think babies should be allowed out the house until they are two.”

“Jesus, it’s gonna be a late lunch at this rate. C’mon. Ideas.”

“Okay, let’s start with a big metal frame.”

“Good, it must be stable. I like your thinking.”

“Metal will make it so fucking heavy it might persuade parents to stay at home.”

“Fine, whatever. Metal it is. Height. About like this?”

“Seventy five centimetres, I reckon. Just high enough…”

“To stop toddlers climbing out?”

“…to make the average height mum have to drop the baby the last two inches as she can’t reach the mattress.”

“Fine, I’m too hungry to argue. What about the collapsing mechanism.”

“Can we make it collapse in the middle of the night?”

“No.”

“Christ, you’re so fucking picky. Pass the pen… something like this… ”

“Blimey, that looks almost impossible to work out unless you read the instructions.”

“Exactly. It passes the ‘does it make grown men weep’ test with flying colours. We can print the instructions on the bottom of the mattress, no fucker is ever going to read them. Well, not until they have spent an hour trying to erect the bloody thing by pushing the base flat first.”

“But your mechanism works on the opposite principle.”

“Exactly.”

“Right. Fabric sides?”

“Plastic netting, I reckon. Get that stuff that sounds really bloody irritating when the kid scrapes his nails down it. They’ll love that at three in the morning.”

“Anything else?”

“Make the mattress really hard. It’s only what they deserve.”

“Hmmm. It seems you have designed something more akin to a mobile torture chamber than a travel cot.”

“Excellent. My work here is done. Let’s go get some chips.”

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What shall we do with the drunken baby?

A curious thing occurs to me. Being a baby and being roaringly drunk seems to be pretty much one and the same state.

B only has intermittent control of his own limbs. On occasions, they are possessed by his masochistic alter ego who finds great enjoyment in scuppering all attempts at coordination. B slowly raises his hand, mouth open, staring intently at his fingers. The hand moves slowly, with small wobbles, toward the intended target. Closer and closer… nearly there…his mouth widens slightly in anticipation…  just a couple of inches to go… then oops, at the very last minute the hand is diverted upward at speed and he punches himself squarely in the eye. And just like watching a drunk attempt to put a key in a lock or an arm into a jacket sleeve, it provides much mirth for all onlookers.  And when I say onlookers, I mean me. Well, looking after a baby is not really high-octane stuff –  I have to take my kicks (or punches) where I can get them.

B also lacks focus. I don’t mean in the ‘gets easily distracted from his 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle’ kind of focus. I mean if he looks at something for too long, he goes cross-eyed. And boy, does he like to stare, with that slightly head-swaying intensity that also often accompanies those who have imbibed eight pints. He passes many a long hour gaping at a hand or a foot.  And every time he looks at them anew, he looks astonished that he possesses them. I am sure his feet-gazing is provoked by the fact that he has no comprehension of why the hell he actually owns a pair of legs. After all, they don’t bloody work, as any drunkard will confirm.

There is also a startling similarity with sleep. B can doze off, chin on chest, in the chair, only to wake up in bed, wondering what dark force transported him there whilst he was asleep. I can personally testify that I have lost whole tube rides home whilst under the influence, pondering how I arrived on my sofa when my last cognitive thought was ‘Have last orders been called yet?’  And the sleep of the three month old and that of an alcohol-addled adult are not that dissimilar either – both have the ability to wake up with a start, absolutely alert and ready for action, then three seconds later be slumped back into sleep, unrousable and for all intents and purposes, comatose.

And like all good drunks, B has the ability to cry like a baby for no good reason, and then before you have time to say ‘please don’t dribble snot on my shoulder’, starts to laugh like he’s just heard the funniest joke known to man.

And don’t get me started on the whole unprovoked laughter thing. Drunks and babies are equally annoying on this front. I can pull faces, do silly dances and sing stupid songs (just to clarify: I am sober at this point. Being a mother means you no longer need the excuse of half a bottle of Jack Daniels to act like a twat) and B will not crack a hint of a smile. But when I turn away and look back some time later, he is practically wetting himself with mirth. I did ask him to share the joke with me, but he was having none of it. He was looking directly at my hair though, so he may have had a valid reason for such hilarity – I don’t measure my bad hair instances in days, I prefer months as it saves so much time.

There is one further similarity, but for the sake of the scatologically sensitive amongst us, I will draw a veil over any further explanation. Or a fresh nappy, to be more precise.

So. Drunks and babies. Perhaps our drunken nights as adults are a futile attempt to recapture our blissful, stress-free days as a baby. Or maybe being a baby is just a year of practising how we are likely to spend quite a large proportion of our leisure time fifteen or so years hence. Either way, pass the Jack please.