Babies have this way of pushing you to extremes. They let you get to the very edge of despair and exhaustion, turning you into a snotty, sobbing heap on the floor, virtually dead. But only virtually. For they are clever little beggars, these baby-type people. They know exactly how far they can go before you'll crack completely, and end up running down the street, biting the neighbours, and shimmying up lampposts. Push you to that point, and you won't be capable of making their breakfast, scraping poo off the ceiling, or dancing like a psychotic monkey for their entertainment.
And they certainly don't want that. So, just as you're about to see if you can fit a baby down the waste disposal, they rein you back in with something so enchanting, delightful, and thoroughly wondrous, that you instantly forget the sleepless nights, the endless grizzling, the poo, the chaos, the lot. Poof, just like that, you're a cooing simpleton again, a happy slave.
It happened many, many months ago, with the elusive first smile. And, just last week, it happened again.
We were on holiday down in Dorset, back at the fantastic house we stayed in back in November, in fact. Lumpy wasn't sleeping well. In fact, he was sleeping the worst he pretty much ever has, waking up every twenty minutes through the whole night. It really was exquisite torture. Initially, we thought it might just be being in a new place, and also getting disturbed by us being in the same room, blundering around getting undressed and daring to turn over in the world's squeakiest bed. But then he started to get odd. He wasn't smiling. Even more weirdly, he wasn't really eating. We knew something was really wrong when he turned his nose up at an Organix Carrot Crispy (aka Giant Baby Wotsits). This was deeply worrying. Normally, Lumpy starts bouncing up and down in a frenzy of squealing excitement at the mere sight of the packet, and will devour a hundredweight without pausing for breath. He was clearly gravely ill.
Unfortunately, as time went on, this diagnosis seemed more and more likely. He would suddenly become burning hot, and have unexplained, disturbingly intense crying fits. Nothing could cheer him up or distract him. He was exhausted, but unable to sleep. He spat and choked whenever we tried to give him painkiller, in a desperate attempt to lower his fever. Then, he started shaking all over, and I got properly scared. We called the doctor.
Of course, as soon as we had secured an appointment, we got a spoonful of Calpol down him, and he started to chirp up. The doctor took one look at our sturdy, feisty brick of a baby, and clearly concluded we were loony, hysterical parents. Even so, he gave him a thorough going over and reassured us that there was nothing mortally wrong. We expressed concern that he wasn't eating. He paused for a millisecond, before saying:
"He's not fat... but he's got good reserves. What I'm saying is, it wouldn't do him that much harm to go a day without food."
Thanks for that, doc. Our Lumpy, fatty fatty boom boom, Mr Porky McPorkster.
That night, we were giving him a bath, still feeling rather shell-shocked at our never-ever-ill baby being ill, and feeling rather trepidatious at the night that lay ahead. We were talking idly, and the word 'clap' happened to come up. Almost instantly, Lumpy started to clap his hands together.
Now, we knew that Lumpy could clap. Man, that's old news. We just thought he was copying us clapping when he was clapping. We had no idea that he recognised the word clap. But he does. He knows a word.
We were truly, utterly, awed and amazed. He knew a word. He recognized language. In that moment, we remembered his undeniable baby genius status. We didn't care if other people's babies had been reciting Shakespeare soliloquies since they were 6 weeks old. Our baby knows the word clap. He hears it, he does it. Completely, utterly brilliant.
Am cleverist babie eva. Clapclapclapclapclap.