A few days ago my life was a movie in which I played myself while my partner Lizzie was played by the Devil. Actually, that’s a little harsh. She was more like Kathy Bates in Misery. Now, things are a little better: she’s become Kathy Bates in Titanic – happier, jokier, with a trifle more backbone. And I’ve gone from Jack Nicholson in The Shining to Jack Nicholson in…actually, he’s pretty crazy in most things. Maybe that’s a bad analogy.
Putting aside which Hollywood characters we most resemble, I said that I’d keep this blog positive, and I’ve noticed my posts have become rather whiny and self-pitying of late. So here’s to all the small and wonderful things that make this endeavour memorable and worthwhile, the kinds of things you’d forget if they weren’t written down, divided into four categories: the physical, behavioural, developmental, and simply gross.
I want to remember the little physical things that might disappear as Izzie gets older. Like the uncatchable bogies that yo-yo in and out of her nostrils when she breathes, or the slimy green sleepy dust that collects in her left eye but never her right. How her strawberry birthmark, which looks like a strawberry to me, is more like a Rorschach inkblot test, since others have variously described it as a tomato, an apple, a pineapple and a maple leaf. Her belly button that can’t decide whether it wants to be an inny or an outy, and her snowplough penguin feet. Enough wax in her ears to make a candle. And she’s strong, too, like a baby Wonder Woman. A couple of years, she’ll be kicking my arse!
And I want to remember the behavioural things, like the way she somehow removes her shoes, socks and trousers no matter how high you pull them up or how tightly they’re attached. How she rather creepily smiles at me when I put Vaseline on her bottom, or chirps like a bird and kicks her legs if you lie her on her back without a nappy. The way she dances and sings to Smells Like Teen Spirit (or ‘writhes’ and ‘screams’ according to Lizzie) and chuckles at me when I sing My Girl complete with bass line (‘I got sunshine – bom-bom-bom-bom-bom, burm, on a cloudy day’). How she falls asleep with her mouth wide open like she’s catching flies, and screws the backs of her fists into her eyes when she’s tired. And she watches everything that’s going on, strives to stay awake in case she misses something – she’s more alert than I am half the time.
Then there are the developmental things that need to be recorded for this stage because they change so quickly. Like how at ten weeks Izzie is trying to sit up (my brother took nine months!), how she can stand if you help her balance, and with both as soon as she’s upright she beams with pride as if to say, ‘Look, daddy, I did it! I’m a big girl!’ How she can’t take her eyes off the TV if it’s on. The way she keeps trying to hold her own bottle while we’re feeding her, but given her poor motor control skills succeeds only in pushing it out of her mouth and then punching herself in the head. Give it another few years, she’ll be reading War and Peace and standing for public office – it’s scary how early she’s developing.
Which leaves the simply gross stuff, the anecdotes that are awful at the time but leave you laughing. Like how we have a vibrating poo chair – if she hasn’t gone yet in a day, we put her in her bouncy chair, turn on the vibration and within ten minutes she’s filled her nappy. Every single time. It never fails. Or how when I changed her the other day the inside of her nappy was entirely orange, except for two perfectly elliptical white ovals where her butt cheeks had been. How her grandmother spent ages dressing her in a pretty yellow vest, yellow trousers, yellow dress, yellow cardigan and yellow socks, only for me to remove them ten minutes later covered in sopping yellow poo. And how the other night while I was feeding her she did a massively warm, squelchy fart; I thought I’d change her after she’d finished her milk when I suddenly felt my leg grow wet, picked her up, and lo, my shorts had a large wet yellow patch of poo all over them. Yay.
These are the things that make up a life. Not whose turn is it sterilise the bottles again, where did that sock go, you forgot to buy nappies, and oh my God how can you sleep through all of this screaming? It’s about the little smiles, the laughs and the oddities. These are the things we want to remember in years to come, and the only things Izzie will care about. It’s easy to forget that the little things are by far the most important.