Scenario. You are going to introduce your four month old to his Great Grandmother who lives on the other side of the World. You’ve already done the hard work by flying 14,000 miles, but it seems that your biggest challenge still lies ahead.
We had a small window of time for Theo to meet Nanny Peggy and to be honest I was really excited about this. My side of the family don’t really do Great Grandparents – no one had kids early enough in life for this to ever happen – so it’s a novel thing for me to do, let alone Theo.
Thing is, when we go to make this happen, Theo is in a state of jet lag and we can’t predict if he’s going to be awake or not. Now, it’s all well and good introducing someone to your sleeping baby, but one thing I’ve learnt in the past few months is that this tends to disappoint people. They want the smiling, bubbly version of your baby who can be passed around friends and family without a care in the world. The version that naturally loves a selfie, can look at a camera on cue and makes whoever is holding the baby feel like a million bucks.
This is definitely not the norm.
We’ve had friends who have felt the full force of Theo’s bottom, seen him get tired (“he screams a lot doesn’t he?”) or just sad that he always seems to be asleep when they visit him (“Can I just wake him up for a quick play?”) I don’t mind anyone who has enthusiasm to interact with Theo and let’s face it, if a good friend happens to get vomited on, that more or less makes your evening doesn’t it?
I’m sure Nanny Peggy couldn’t give two hoots if he’s asleep or not, but as we get in the car to make our way there it’s clear that Theo’s just knackered and starts falling asleep. How much fun is watching a baby doze off? Their eyelids just become so heavy as they try and fight the fatigue feeling overcoming them. However, I’m given strict instructions to keep Theo awake – we’re trying to get into a new sleeping routine and like always, being in a car makes him sleepy at best.
For the next fifteen minutes I sit next to him and unleash some of my best material – I sing, I dance with my fingers, I rap, I beatbox, I blow on his face every time he looks like he’s dropping off (which by the way leads to hilarious facial expressions – go try it immediately), I play with toys, I tell stories, I talk absolute rubbish all while Katie is in the front seat giving both Theo and I encouragement. “Only six minutes to go – keep blowing on his face!” As a competitive man I’m relishing the challenge but I’m torn between keeping him awake and letting the poor boy just nod off. I’m questioning Katie’s instructions here – I’ve been on the same flight as him, I’m jetlagged and I definitely want to go to sleep myself, so I sympathize with the little guy.
The mother in law is driving as fast as she can, Katie’s still on coach mode “Come on boys – two minutes!” and I’m making noises and sounds that should never be aired in public. We’re like the lay man’s version of James Corden and his Carpool Karaoke.
I genuinely start to feel bad at one stage and almost give up on the challenge, but we eventually arrive at our destination and miraculously Theo is still awake. We rush him in to the retirement home where his arrival could be compared with Harry Styles walking into a six form common room. His arrival has stopped everyone in their tracks – you can feel the excitement a baby brings to this group of OAPS. We’re stopped by everyone we pass, with people reaching out to touch him – as if he’s the Pope! Always one to oblige in some self-appreciation, I am in my element. “Give the crowd what they want Katie,” I say as I take him from one set of pensioners to another. It’s genuinely touching to know how much pleasure he brought people in that room.
We meet Nanny Peggy and it’s a great occasion. Theo is awake, alert and thankfully decides not to vomit all over her. I’ve never been in a room with four generations of one family, and as the obligatory photos are taken, I am glad that I listened to Katie and kept him awake.
Mother knows best.