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Babe: 3 years outside
Babeling: 7 months inside

Babymother: I’ve thought of a name for the babeling.

Babyfather: And it is…?

BM: OK, I’ll tell you, but in case you pour cold water on it without considering it properly, you’re not allowed to say anything for 24 hours.


BM: Or move a muscle on your face.

BF: *looks completely blank*

BM: Here goes. The name I like is A—-

BF: *looks completely blank*

48 hours later..

BM: So – what did you think about the name I suggested?

BF: (looking completely blank) What was it again?

Bless. He’d hit the OFF switch a second too early. Being female I am not fitted with one, but perhaps they’re tricky to operate.


Babe: 3 years outside
Babeling: 7 months inside

I wonder if anyone saw a programme on BBC2 back in March about a Turkish family who walked on all fours.

I wanted to scream throughout. These irritating, insensitive scientists descended on a family struggling with six severely disabled grown-up children, who were already shunned by the rest of their community, and pontificated about their being a missing link in the history of human evolution.

Finally, at the end, and only after some nagging from their interpreter, the scientists did something help. They installed parallel bars in the family’s garden to allow them to practise walking upright. The siblings all promptly improved and the seemingly most hopeless one was filmed walking unaided – could we be witnessing a replay of the first steps of mankind? Oh, for goodness’ sake.

Anyway, the same interpreter (apparently, the only human member of the BBC team) got talking to the mother of this family and asked her how she felt about her children. I can’t forget how her reply was translated:

‘They are my bones – my guts.’

That might sound odd, but I knew exactly what she meant. It’s probably the closest description I’ve heard of my own feelings for the babe. I love her fiercely, violently, unquestioningly, but I have always been shocked by how very biological my love is for her.

It feels as if in some way she has never left my body. To remove the bond I have with her, you would have to do surgery, somewhere around my abdominal region. But even that wouldn’t work, because she has somehow genetically modified me so that while a single cell remains in my body it will be imprinted with her self. How did that happen? I never used to be altruistic, but now I can easily imagine putting the babe’s life before my own. Motherhood is an amazing thing. Especially as this bond thing arrived fully formed, from nowhere, a few hours after she was born.

Can anyone tell me if it feels the same to be a father? Or an adoptive parent? Do you have to have given birth to get it? I have a hunch that the answer is no, but I’d be interested to know.

Babe: 3 years outside
Babeling: 7 months inside

First shop window:
Babe: ‘Mummy, what’s this shop?’
Babymother:‘That shop is for shoes.’

Second shop window:
B: ‘Mummy, what’s this shop?’
BM: ‘That one’s for mobile phones.’

Third shop window (sporting undressed female mannequin):
B: ‘Mummy, that one’s for boobies.’

If only. Then I could get a new pair if the babeling wrecks my current set. The babe did not do much damage, but I heard a woman say after her son had finished with hers that they looked like ‘two pittas with glace cherries on the ends’.

Breast is best, by the way.


Babe: 3 years outside
Babeling: 6 months inside

The babeling is already behaving completely differently to the babe. Last weekend he had a bout of aerobics that seemed to go on without a break for 48 hours. The babe never did that. Nor did she ever, ever wallop me hard enough to wake me up. For the little 5th centile shrimp that he allegedly is, he really packs a punch. I woke up abruptly one night having dreamt that he finally shoved his fist so hard that it broke through the skin of my stomach. (It’s alright – there wasn’t any blood.)

I was looking at it with some concern wondering how to convey to an unborn baby that it was doing something wrong – was he too young to smack?

Shortly after babyfather spotted a certain picture in the Sunday Times magazine – don’t click here if you would not like to see a real version of my dream. You will either be awed and inspired or feel sick. Actually I was torn between the two.

Anyway, so long as he stays within the proper limits, I don’t mind the babelings’ antics at all. If I have nothing better to do I can sit back and watch my belly doing a little twitching dance all by itself.

Babe: 3 years outside
Babeling: 6 months inside

I just have to mention, in case I forget to put it into writing, that there was one weekend in May when the babe called vitamins ‘bitterfins’ and triangles ‘tangalores’. For one glorious weekend only.

However, the following remain:

Breakfast: Buskiss (still)

Radiator: Radio

Milk: Myilk

Bob: The Byilder

Guitar: Giddingtar

Computer: Giddingpeter (why?!)

Emphasis: Yes, I’m ARE!

Suggested names for babeling: Peter Rabbit, Fatima, Darren.

She can do long, earnest sentences in complete gobbledygook, with emphatic nodding and hand gestures, that sound close enough to English to baffle strangers who are trying very hard to engage in conversation with her. I once asked her if she was talking English.


‘What language are you talking then?’


So Pantu it has been ever since. She can write it, too.

Babe: 3 years outside
Babeling: 6 months inside

Babyfather was off work on Friday and agreed to pick up the babe from her nursery. This was his first time so we had the following conversation:

Babymother: I need to explain the ritual to you.

Babyfather: OK.

BM: First, you need to find the door, which is hidden round the side and looks locked.


BM: Then you walk through the lobby and into the ladies’ toilets which are straight opposite.

BF: The ladies?

BM: Yes. Her green bag and her pink coat are on the wall on the left, on a peg marked ‘Katie’, because they stuck another child’s name on top of hers.

BF: The ladies?

BM: Well, it’s more of a cloakroom. People think of it as a cloakroom.

BF: How far away is her peg? Can I at least keep the door open with my foot while I grab it?

BM: No. It’s on the far side. Honestly, I’m sure dads go in there all the time.


BM: Then back in the lobby, next to the ladies’..

BF: Could we call it ‘the cloakroom’?

BM: OK. Next to the cloakroom is the storage thingy where her wellies might be. That is, she might be wearing her wellies, but if she’s not, they’ll be in there, next to the ladies, er, cloakroom, unless of course they’ve moved it, which does happen quite a lot.

BF: Moved to where?

BM: The cloakroom.

BF: Are we forgetting something?

BM: Yes -somewhere else in the lobby – you never know where – will be a tray with her cup on it. No, I think that’s everything.

BF: What about the babe?

BM: Oh yes. OK, everyone stands there not talking to each other, and at some point the door to the nursery itself opens a crack and a child’s name gets called out.

BF: How do they know that the parent is there?

BM: Sometimes they don’t check and the child comes rocketing out and then has to be recaptured. So, when you hear the babe’s name, you go and collect the babe and shake the teacher’s hand. I think it’s a Montessori thing.

BF: While holding the cup, the wellies, the bag, the coat and the babe?

BM: Actually, they’ve never seen you before, so they’ll probably take you in for interrogation.

BF: This is getting worse.

BM: I’ve told them you’re coming, but you’ve still got to prove who you are.

BF: How?

BM: Well – if the babe runs to you and calls you Daddy that will help – otherwise, there’s the password..

BF: Which is…?

BM: Can’t remember.

BF: She’ll call me Daddy.

BM: She might well pretend she’s never seen you in her life before.

Which is what happened, and it wasn’t until babyfather had gone to enormous lengths to prove his identity (stopping short of handing over some DNA) that the babe casually referred to him as ‘Dad’ and gave him a hug.

It’s got to be easier next time. Anyway, he should feel fortunate that he doesn’t have to also cope with the Snack Rota, the Letter and Number of the Week, and the Little Red Book.