“That’s my daughter, in the water” – Loudon Wainwright – Daughter
It seems they start swimming the moment they leave the womb nowadays (this is almost literally in the cases of water births). A good thing it is too. Get them used to the water when they’re young and it will never seem a strange and scary place. Swimming itself will come more naturally when they’re not worrying about the water.
We fully intended for our daughter to go to one of the many water based baby groups, but due to one thing and another she was past two by the time I took her to her first swimming class. Still very young of course, and I’m sure I was much older than that when I learnt to swim, but my daughter was alone amongst her group in being entirely new to the water, as other parents regaled with the time their kids had spent in the pool on various holidays that I’m still not sure how people with young children afford.
I’ve written little in the last two months. It seems that preparing for a new baby whilst also looking after a 3 year old and also doing my actual job is not conducive to finding time to write. My nesting instinct also truly kicked in during the last couple of months of my wife’s pregnancy, as I tried to get every possible job around the house complete before our boy arrived. I finally ticked the last item off my list the evening before the due date, and was a surprised as anyone when he hurried into this world at 3.50 am the next day, as if he sensed we were finally ready.
The birth couldn’t have been much more different than our daughter’s. She came into this world in an operating theatre, after seemingly endless trips to and from the hospital, as contractions stopped and started over the course of more than a week. Our boy, in contrast, was born less than twenty minutes after we walked through the hospital doors, barely more than an hour after I’d been asleep at home. A few minutes later leaving the house and it’s doubtful we would even have made it as far as the delivery ward.
A strange trip to the hospital with my wife this week. The receptionist assumed that I was the one there for the appointment. Not only that, but he also thought my wife was answering all of his questions on my behalf, and actually stopped to ask her to let me answer myself. Now, my wife does have a first name which can be either male or female, but given that the appointment was for an ultrasound, my wife is clearly pregnant, and she had handed him a folder of maternity notes, this seemed a strange assumption to make. He was at least suitably embarrassed when he realised. Anyway, this is all a roundabout way of saying we have another baby on the way.
Lots of people keep telling us that “the second one is easier”, but, being honest, I’m finding it hard to see how dealing with a tiny baby can be easier when you also have an energetic/attention seeking/grumpy (delete as applicable) toddler on your hands. A few weeks back I happened to bump into an old school friend who had just had his second child. He was in that manically tired state of mind that comes with a tiny baby at home, and his advice was “don’t do it”. I think he was joking, but it’s hard to be entirely sure.
I worry sometimes, about my daughter’s confidence. Like most worries about our children, this is rooted in my own experiences. I was always a pretty shy kid, as far back as I can remember. I was apparently terribly upset when my mum used to drop me off at nursery, and I seem to remember being happier playing by myself than joining in with the other kids. At primary school, this didn’t affect me much. It was a small school and everyone pretty much muddled along together without forming groups or cliques.
Middle school was a different matter, massive and overwhelming, and I retreated into my shell even more. Still, I had my little group of friends to play football and computer games with, which helped me worry less about the shyness I felt in larger groups. It was as a teenager though that my confidence really disappeared. I drifted away from one group of friends, and never really felt like I found another. At this crucial stage of life I felt alone, unimportant, insignificant.
When we moved into our new house earlier this year, we also bought a good-quality record player for the first time. You’d think a decent stereo set up would be fairly essential for a music blogger, but unlike some of my friends with strong opinions on speaker cables and stands, I’m hardly an audiophile. Still, I have to admit I love the sound, especially compared to the tinny faux-vintage all-in-one piece of crap we used to have. Surprisingly though, I’ve not been the member of the household getting the most pleasure out of the record player, as my 2 year old daughter is absolutely fascinated with it.
She has had her own Fisher Price record player since her first birthday (thanks Auntie Jen!) so she kind of understood the concept of these pieces of plastic spinning round and producing music, but now she’s starting to take an interest in our records. To her, music is for dancing to more than listening to, and when a song comes on which isn’t suitably danceable, she’ll demand “I want big music”, although what she considers to be big music can be quite hard to predict. If a ballad or a slow song comes she’ll ask “Is this a sad song?” and put on a pretend sad-face.
For pretty much every song she’ll ask “What’s this song about, what’s this song about?” So we have to be pretty careful what we choose to play to her. Either that or just lie, which is always a handy parenting option. I’ve not yet tried to explain the argument that a song can be said to be about whatever the listener perceives it to be about, so her interpretation that the song is about a jumping dog is equally valid as my interpretation that it’s about a psychedelic drug trip. That may have to wait until she’s 3 or 4.