“One of the things about a new baby,” said Pete as he drove us home from our last games night before our due date, “is what do you do with them? We got our son home from hospital, and he was there in his car seat and we were like: ‘what do we do now? Do we offer him a cup of tea? What do we do?’”
Alec is like a very needy guest, one who won’t sit quietly with a magazine while I do things that need to be done, and who leaves massive, awkward gaps in the conversation, who never offers to help. There are days when I wonder how I’m going to fill the hours until Nick gets home.
And I’m going to admit right now: I performed the internet search “things to do with a baby.”
I made a list of things to do – partly to prove to myself that I really am doing stuff during the day. We change activities as soon as Alec gets bored, or when he starts to “a-heh, a-heh” with frustration. I try to do one household task, and one Alec entertainment, so things get done. And I’m ever ready to take some me-time the moment someone else offers to hold him, or if he falls asleep.
If all else fails, we leave the house. A walk up to the park, or just round the block is enough to cheer him up, and a chocolate bar from the shop is always a winner for me. I point out Items of Interest to him – in a whisper, you know, so no-one can accuse me of loud parenting – “There’s a squirrel going wavey wavey along the top of the fence; and that’s a turkey oak tree. Oh, a magpie! That man is carrying an orange Sainsbury’s bag – see how the sun behind makes it glow? Listen, that’s a train going under the bridge. Do you remember how we…” etc etc.
It’s lovely to run into people we know because they always say how gorgeous he is, and how much he’s grown. And I like the way strangers will chat to you, and tell you about their children and grandchildren.