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Let's get this straight: all babies are cute, but some are cuter than others.
Luckily, the cutest baby that you know will more than likely have the added bonus of living with you.
Coincidence? Perhaps. The fact remains that we were caught out by this belief only the other day whilst informing some very good friends of Tom's new nickname. Jane was already laughing in anticipation of the mirth to come and Judith seemed pretty keen to find out what we call our beautiful son behind closed doors. I smiled, wryly, and inclined my head in recognition of the forthcoming gales of laughter. 'Roly poly podge pot', I muttered to the strains of my wife cracking up. Judith and Roger grunted appreciatively but immediately found something of interest in the free-range bacon glistening on Roger's plate. The point is that what a parent loves about home-life with their child isn't always transferable. Still, sweet is sweet.
Take our morning ritual. Each dawn, at the crack of 7.15, our house is filled with Tom's gentle mewing. This is usually interspersed with that surprising, well-fancy-that whoop all babies use when they ascertain that if they stand up in their cot they can empty the top drawer of their dresser. We wait a while, boil the kettle, ready the teabags, de-fridge the milk and then slowly enter his room.
Every morning Tom looks up, grinning wildly, and even bounces a little through the excitement of suddenly realising that those two who ran around all day yesterday have turned up again for more punishment. A bit like when you were 18 and you unaccountably got off with that pretty girl twice in a row. But the really cute thing happens next; even on those days when his nappy is so large that small items of clothing and discarded tissues are starting to fall into an elliptical orbit around his bum. As soon as we pick him up in the morning he reaches out with both hands, clasping towards his shelf full of teddies, little fingers opening and closing frantically. Time was he'd be content with a Pooh Bear but now he rarely makes do with less than three. These he hugs to his chest, grinning into our faces the whole time. Possibly a bit like when that girl you unaccountably got off with twice in a row turns up at your house with two mates. His beaming face and delighted murmurings make it obvious to see how he might one day gladly swop either his mum or dad for a good cuddle with Tutter the Rat.
Once he's up and about the Cutidity Ratio keeps on multiplying. He chats away to himself most of the day, mostly as clear as a radio in a neighbour's garden although his recognisable words are evolving slowly. His latest revolves around the B sound, a satisfying explosive that can be easily turned into a comical gurn.
We have read books with Tom from an early age and he loves the look, feel, taste and head cracking facility of almost any variety of hardback-, paperback-, plastic- and boardbook. As if he has twigged the equation Cute = Finger + Dad x Twisting2 Tom has learnt to grab a book, almost any book, and hand it to you. As soon as you accept it he turns his back and scuttles
Finally, certain times stick with you. Dawn over Uluru, the first breach of the humpback off the coast of New Zealand, realising Gandalf wasn't really dead. Now: my son's laugh. Any parent would find it difficult to dismiss their child's laugh but I admit to being stunned by my own reactions to it. I crave it to the point of addiction.
Whilst bathing Tom this week I used bubble bath for the first time. His look of sheer incredulity at this frothing mass first gave way to surprise that it wasn't solid and then he started laughing. All I did was to pick up a handful of suds and blow suddenly into my hand, bursting them against the bathroom tiles. He began with a low Muttley growl, a few one-off shudders until he swiftly discovered that I was being bloody hilarious. As he was immersed in water I cannot say for sure, but I feel confident that he wet himself. By the time Jane came from downstairs to see what the fuss was about he had Baboon-bum cheeks and could barely hold himself upright. Both hands were in the water supporting his heaving body and the look of sheer joy on his face was the best thing I have ever seen.
Who knows, but possibly a bit like when that girl and her two mates you unaccountably got off with once turn up at your house again with the Star Wars Trilogy and a box of Turkish Delight. Now that would take some beating!
7 October 2006.
Dave Fouracre aka "Dave the Dad" is a regular feature writer here at thebabywebsite.com. Read more about his hilarious experiences as a Dad.
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