I see these children, walking calmly next to their mums, holding their hands. I see these children, sitting peacefully in their mum’s laps on flights. I see these children, quietly snoozing in their strollers as their mums wheel them around the mall. I see these children and I wonder: how? What do their parents feed them?
Enter Baby A. For Baby A and I, a trip to the mall is a battle for survival (think Braveheart and picture me screaming ‘Freedom!’). Frankly, I don’t know why I ever spent money on a stroller, because since Baby A started walking, we haven’t actually used it. The few times I’ve tried strapping her in, she arches her back, straightens her tiny legs and slides right off, yelling and screaming before I can even get one strap around her. This usually manages to attract a large audience who must think that I’m running a kidnapping ring of sorts. On those occasions that I’ve decided to take the stroller to the mall in the hope that Baby A will eventually tire herself out, I’ve ended up carrying Baby A in my arms while she pushes the stroller (picture tiny Baby A pushing a giant stroller)! She won’t just sit in it or walk alongside it, she needs to push it. Moreover, she won’t push it from the sides or the bottom. It must be the top (of course!). If I try putting her down, she just hangs off the handle, and scared that the stroller will topple backwards on to her, I inevitably have to pick her up again (all whilst she is still pushing the stroller). In this way, the mall is just a giant playground for Baby A. She runs around, attempts to run up and down escalators and hugs mannequins. In all the excitement, she occasionally fails to notice glass windows and walks straight into them (which, admittedly, is somewhat amusing), and then for the following five minutes walks with her arms extended forward, grasping at the air. Naturally, the only thing she doesn’t do is follow me into the shops I’d like to go into. Instead, she tries to gauge the direction I plan to head in and turns around and runs in the exact opposite direction, as I run behind her yelling. I always come back from a trip to the mall more tired than I am after back to back exercise sessions.
I can’t even begin to describe the nightmare that is air travel when it’s just Baby A and I. Just a few days ago, Baby A and I were travelling to attend my best friend’s wedding. We had just boarded the plane, when Baby A hoisted herself onto the seat next to mine and started buckling herself in (there’s a newfound obsession with buckles – car seat, suitcase, feeding chair, pretty much anything with buckles). She wasn’t too happy when I informed her that our seat was actually the one I had placed all our luggage on, but after some convincing, she moved into our seat. The part she didn’t quite understand however, was that it was ‘our’ seat. When I tried to move her into my lap and sit down, she wouldn’t have it. She finally agreed to let me sit on the edge of the seat until take off. The 20 minutes spent between when the plane started moving and the seat belt sign was turned off required every ounce of my being, to ensure Baby A remained seated and strapped. After that, I spent the flight sitting on the floor as Baby A enjoyed her snacks, running up and down the aisle behind her as she stormed into Business Class, or trying to prevent her from going into the toilet to take a “showwaa”.
Here’s what Baby A was doing while I was trying to convince the flight crew that someone had taken over my seat. It’s not a great picture, but it’s the best I could do considering the circumstances, i.e. my special floor seat.
I have to give credit where credit is due: Baby A is an organized child. A place for everything and everything in its place. The place for most things these days however, is the dustbin. Baby A picks up an object of her liking, waddles over to the trash can, announces that the object is ‘dirtyy’, and voila, it’s gone. A fresh bag of apples, her favourite cat soft toy (aka ‘Catoo’), daddy’s shirt, my favourite lipstick, and several shoes have found a new life.
So yes, when I see these children sitting next to their mums, happily playing with toys at my best friend’s wedding, as I run after mine in heels, shouting, ‘come back!’, ‘don’t touch that’, followed by, ‘don’t bite that’, I really do wonder what those other children are fed! When Baby A finally walks out of the wedding at the end of the night, accompanied by two substantially exhausted grandmothers, an aunt who is about to pull her hair out and an uncle with aching legs, all of whom I’d dragged along with me to look after Baby A for the night, I think about the silver lining. At least with all this running, I’ve lost all that baby weight and more – I’m practically anorexic. So if you’re looking to lose weight, I can lend you Baby A for a few days. In return, I ask only for some food that I shall take one bite out of before Baby A notices that I’m eating and comes running with that inevitable ‘Aaa’, asking for ‘thisss’.