Adam came down to stay, and Claire’s parents visited on Saturday. Then Richard came for lunch today as well, which was nice. I’m sure Leo waves to him, but we need more evidence – twice is not a trend.
Leo had a good time giggling at people and was as well-behaved as ever. Adam seemed to enjoy reading to him, and waving rattle in front of him. Leo likes him too – never seems remotely perturbed at being with Adam compared to with me. I’m just the one who cooks, i think…
I only noticed it this weekend, but some people pronounce his name differently. When i say it, i think it has a Lee-(y)-o sound – a sort of implied dipthong. When Adam says it, he uses a different tone on the first syllable – nearer Lay-o than Lee-o – but no dipthong. I don’t think Claire pronounces a dipthong either.
I’ve never noticed it before, but now i wonder how other people say it. I don’t think there’s a right way – though i’m sure Radio 4 has a pronounciation guide for it. I’ll be listening out more now.
At about 5.00 this morning, Leo woke us up by screaming. We were both awake instantly – we’d never heard a cry like it. He was shrieking with all the air in his lungs, and was tense as a board.
We picked him up, which i think now may have been a mistake since he then became inconsolable until he fed for a while. I don’t think he’d woken up when we tried to cuddle him, so whatever scary thing was in his mind was compounded by odd things being done to him – he never gets picked up while asleep normally.
I’m fairly sure he had a nightmare. His screams weren’t like when he’s in pain, or hungry. He’d gone under the water in the bath last night, and got water in his eyes. Maybe he was still frightened.
Many people have said they can’t imagine what he could be dreaming of – what do babies know? what have they experienced? But that’s backwards. We only dream in ‘events’ because we are used to experiencing the world as a series of occurences with things generally familiar – so that’s the dream language. We wake up thinking ‘why was i so scared of losing my shoe?’ whereas we should ask ‘of what am i scared, and what link does that have with my shoes?’
Leo has all the feelings needed for dreams – fear, happiness, confusion – and all the difficulties of being human – who am i? what is this place? can i have food now? – so why shouldn’t he? The question should be to ask how children perceive their dreams – not whether they have them.
I watched him get hold of something today, entirely on his own. He reached above himself, opened his palm and wrapped it round one of the balls of the woozit. Another milestone.
My parents came down tonight so Claire and I could go out for dinner, to celebrate our wedding anniversary. We ended up have a lovely evening, but leaving him was really hard.
It’s nothing to do with perceptions of competence – my parents are probably far better equipped to deal with any problems than we would be – just that being out, without him, is somehow wrong, unkind and generally neglectful.
We both independently felt a cord, a link that we were straining against to go down the road to Monty’s. (They liked that it was our first trip out since we went there on the 31 July, and we ended up with complimentarywhisky and baileys!) There was a near-physical queasiness to every metre we travelled away from him. The dominant feeling was one of being incomplete – we are supposed to be a trio yet here we are with a third missing.
Once in the restaurant it was easier, but i was still aware of missing him. Every time i am not with him, Claire is, and that’s what i’ve come to trust. So being with Claire, and without Leo was just weird.
Mum said it gets easier. Another piece of advice i have to take on trust – can’t say i believe it at the moment. But mum, and mums generally, are usually right.
I happened to be at home Friday morning – waiting for the appt to take the dressing off my carved finger. I was watching Leo as he lay awake-ish in his cot. We’d put a teddy bear in there, since he seemed to enjoy looking at it.
As i quietly watched, he reached out for the bear and touched its body. Then talked to it. A sort of ‘gur goo’ sound, but certainly an interaction. He kept doing this, and never took his eyes off the bear.
I called Claire, so she saw it too. We stood in the bedroom doorway watching him and it was ages before i noticed we were hugging. Seeing him not only learn about the world but have the ability to reach into it – the fearlessness to try to make something. I don’t think i have ever seen anything so emotive and metaphorical as watching a first, unprompted foray outwards – for Leo to give something of himself to this bear and not be perturbed that he got nothing back. I hope Claire and i (and the little bear, if Leo turns it into a Transitional Object!) manage to keep him in a state where he can grow as this kind of little boy.
Blank slate my arse – he’s taking everything he can from the world to build himself.
By now, Sunday, three days on, he’s reaching out for whatever he fancies. Of course, he’s still discerning – many objects cut no mustard. Rattles, books, things hanging near his face, a puppy (Sue and Jeff’s four-month old dog, Stanley) are all interesting.
He’s twelve weeks today, as well, so happy birthday little sweetie. nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands.
Claire and I want to create a new tradition for our new-made trio. While we are part of a wider family, with our parents, siblings and more, we are nevertheless a little unit of three. We want to start a new tradition for Leo: that we spend Christmas at home, but see his grandparents on days close to Christmas.
In some ways it is a horrible situation – there is no way of organising large extended families, living in different parts of the country, in such a way that everyone can spend Christmas day with everybody. But it’s hard to make a concerted step to a new way – compromise can never be the best for everybody.
In another way though, it’s nice to plan new ways of being. We’re already thinking about a tree! He won’t remember it this year, but i hope he will from years subsequently.
It’s hard too, because taking on a parental role at all means saying goodbye, at least partially, to a child role. I think becoming a parent is probably the first time you really have to do that. It must be hard for parents – waving their chidren goodbye into the land of full adulthood. I’m sure it’ll be hard for us when Leo makes his own route through the world.
I cut my thumb today, carving a roast. (Yes, i know.) It’s an involved story, but the point is i now have a dressing that i have to keep dry.
So i can’t bathe Leo.
So Claire will be the one in the bath.
So i’ll be the one who’s handed a slippery wet baby to put into the towel carefully laid on my lap, and quickly wrap him up before he gets cold or kicks the edge of the bath and propels his head into the wall, then can’t get up off the toilet seat because of the bundle of joy mounted lap-wise.
So, the parents and not-stupid among you will have spotted the stupidity, yes? At the start of the long sentence…?
How about i hold the towel out, in my hands, and Claire places Leo onto it, thus avoiding wriggleness and drippage. 9 weeks of bathing and we’ve just got to this point.