That was newborn number one. But now Giles Coren is on to baby number two. And, he discovers, things aren’t quite the same.
The genius of Mother Nature in the matter of babies knows no bounds. By giving you a totally useless, mewling, puking blob at birth, she totally resets your expectations of what a person is, so that, from that point on, anything your baby does for the first time seems to be a miracle.
‘Oh my God! Oh my God! Did you see that? She sneezed! She actually sneezed! Like a total person! Oh, she’s going to be a right sneezer is this one, just like her dad!’ And that keeps you going for an entire day of what otherwise is repetition, worry and housework.
And so it goes on for the first few weeks. She smiles her first smile and you smile with her, then weep. She poos, you weep. She frowns, you laugh. She appears to follow your hand with her eyes, you call Oxford University and put her down for Philosophy, Politics and Economics.
Is he just going to lie there?
And so it goes with each new development – the first laugh, the first word, the first step, the first drawing of something that may actually be something (even if it’s on a wall, drawn in raspberry jam)… Each new day brings the joy of realising how primitive, on reflection, she was yesterday, and of contemplating how totally amazing and different she will be tomorrow.
But here’s something I learned when my son Samuel was born last month: the trick doesn’t work twice. ‘Is he just going to lie there?’ I ask myself every morning. ‘Isn’t he going to say something? Isn’t he going to ask me to squeak like Neep out of Abney & Teal?’
Hurry Up, Son
The answer is no. Not for years. With the dawning of each new day, Samuel is the bloody same. No progress. He just lies there. He’s boring. ‘He gripped my finger this morning,’ says my wife. ‘Ooh, get a load of the baby Einstein,’ I reply. ‘From finger-gripping, it’ll be a short walk to fluency in Mandarin.’
My expectations have been reset again, you see, by my two-year-old daughter. She is the most interesting person I know. She loves books, dinosaurs and kicking balls with her left foot. Samuel just stares up at me like a dork and does the occasional poo. I love him, and he’ll be allowed to stay. I just wish he would get the hell on with growing up.