It is a truth almost universally acknowledged that babies are a lot more fun when you’ve had a night’s sleep.
I’m yawning here just at the thought of those hours spent rocking the buggy, singing “my old man’s a dustman” to the tune of “girl from Ipanema.” Driving round the block in the early hours, hoping in vain that there won’t be cries as soon as the engine’s turned off. Arriving at work on autopilot only to discover that not only is YoungLochinvar still in his child seat (forgotten to drop him off at Ma’s) but also that, in the early morning rush, I’ve failed to shut the front door (concerned neighbour, police visit). How does anyone survive early parenthood? Nightmare.
A few, a happy few, have it easier, I guess. According to Ma, LittleBro was such a good sleeper that she asked the Midwife whether she should be waking him up for feeds. “Are you mad?!” came the practical response.
Great-Aunthood is a completely different kettle of fish, though. One of the present joys in my life is being allowed to steal my niece’s baby, Nantes, for a few hours each week. I meet with friends who mind grandchildren and we luxuriate in being able to watch the toddlers play, knowing that someone else will have the job of getting them to sleep that night.
As it happens, Rag, Tag and Nantes were born within the space of a month, so it is very tempting to play a game of living …. I was going to say ‘Top Trumps’ but am trying to give up the T word. They are, of course, all exceptionally gifted children. Rag sings her way through the morning, every activity accompanied by a cheery ‘e i e i o’. Tag has just learnt to shrug, which he does with such easy charm that he’ll be having the birds swooning down from the trees before long.
As for Nantes, well she’s definitely the steadiest on her pins. We are generally a family of early walkers, having square feet and very, very low centres of gravity. Nantes is a regular John Noakes: if it’s there, she’ll climb it. Give her a box of toys and within minutes she’ll have emptied the box and be clambering. Which is going to be a useful skill later, when trying to reach those top shelves: as I say, low centres of gravity.
And what an indulgence – being able to play with children and read with children with not a post-it note in sight! Rag can turn the pages of a book correctly, Tag takes turns in throwing a ball, Nantes is starting to join in with action songs yet I don’t have to write any of it down! We can just have fun.
I was up at the hospital yesterday looking at a web-based resource which is being developed to provide online support to people living with Parkinson’s. Very promising at first sight; I wish something similar had been around when I was first diagnosed.
Jeannie is also on the committee, which is great because she’s an inspirational cove; particularly a testament to the benefits of exercise. One of the activities we were asked to do yesterday, was to write a short description of our PD and how it affects us. Jeannie pointed out that it might also be useful to reflect on any positive things that have come from having the diagnosis.
I remember, in the early days, receiving a thoughtful email from a friend who was – still is – living with MS. One phrase came as a total surprise: “life is good” she said. At the time, I couldn’t reconcile this with my fears for the future; but of course she was quite right.
If it hadn’t been for PD, I’d be this second looking out of the classroom window and wondering if it was going to be wet play. Instead, I’m off to try out a new aqua aerobics class: I hope Jeannie would approve.
Found out this week that you can use GiveAsYouLive when booking Cineworld tickets online! So even if the film is overrated, that’s a couple of quid for your chosen charity.