I wish that I could go back three or so years to when I was a new dad. I would sit me down and tell me to chill the f out. For the first few months a baby’s requirements from its carers are simple: the provision of a place to sleep, catering and bum-maintenance. The Major slept like a baby, obviously. My wife was breastfeeding and Major immediately realised that the teats on offer chez Dadu were dry. They didn’t smell of milk, I stress that he didn’t actually have to try. So I was left with merely the periodic requirement to change a nappy.
The Major was stagnant. He didn’t move. I could have left him there, perhaps in a carry cot, just gurgling and farting and staring at the ceiling. I could have gone about my business, attended to the urgent matters of the day. Instead I loomed over him in constant vigil just in case he forgot how to blink or he started to eat his own hand. Because I thought that what a parent should do.
The above epiphany happened very shortly after Minor was born. By this stage the Major was travelling around the house in quick darts, magnetised towards the nearest source of mischief. Which obviously required a parental security detail at all times and necessarily the Minor was left to entertain himself with the ceiling. Quite often he was simply placed on the centre of the coffee table in a basket (Moses, not shopping) like an ornament or a pile of lifestyle magazines. Occasionally I’d forget he existed at all. I once lobbed a changing bag into what I thought was an empty pram before remembering there was a tiny human being settled within and hastily snatching the bag back up again.
These days the Minor is on the move and he is audacious: clambering, contorting and commando-rolling. It’s like baby parkour. In footballing parlance he’s got a great engine. He’s also got superb acceleration and a decent turning circle. He is also fond of chomping down on the corners of occasional tables like a lunatic beaver. All of which shenanigans requires round-the-clock surveillance, unless he’s in his cage, sorry pen.
The obvious effect of this is a deterioration in the Major’s service. His mother and I have been unable to keep up the levels of care that he has become accustomed to. And he has followed the normal complaint procedure: escalating strops, hunger strikes and DVD cases thrown to the head. The coup de grace of this protest was delivered last week with an excretal carpet-bombing of our hallway, the scale and majesty of which I hugely underestimated and trod in.
There’s comfort in labelling such extreme behaviour, attributing it to some change in circumstance. For a start it automatically provides a light at the end of the tunnel. A cry for attention in the form of an omni-shit is much more palatable than the prospect of the Major degenerating into an actual problem child with a mean line in poo-based iconoclasm.
While the Major adjusts I will be focussing on giving him the best customer service possible. Like a call centre picking up within three rings, I will endeavour to respond to any of his queries without him having to ask twice, even if the question is: “can I throw my brother down the toilet?”