Tuesday 2 November 2010

A screamingly good cure for obsession

“You can understand why people batter babies, can’t you?” my old friend asked last Tuesday morning, as toddler Charlie rampaged around her pristine Surrey kitchen, uttering what she accurately described as “really quite piercing” squeals.

My wife was quick to disabuse her of that notion. But then, as another helpful lady friend had already warned me, Mrs Hann is completely obsessed with her child. So the real seismic shift that has occurred over the last year or so is that I did not agree, either.

I have hated children, and their associated noise and mess, ever since I stopped being a child myself. And I will admit that, after a week driving around the country with my little family, I did kiss the ground in the style made famous by the late Pope when we finally reached home.

Yet on Friday in Bainbridge’s (as it remains in my world) I willingly invested in a carrier so that I can take Charlie on my back when I go hill-walking, despite the certainty that he will use his elevated position to hurl my cap into the mud and then beat out a drum tattoo on my skull.

I then took him to Fenwick’s toy department and smiled indulgently as he went “Ooooh!” at a series of unerringly expensive plastic gizmos, including the miniature farm that he three times manhandled off the shelf and started dragging towards the till, despite the fact that it was almost as large as he is.

After which we visited the stationery department to buy a selection of “thank you” and “sorry” cards for the people we had stayed with during our so-called holiday. Charlie immediately grabbed a handful each of “wishing you joy in your new home” and “deepest sympathy” cards and performed a lap of honour around the fixture, waving his prizes in the air and cackling like a maniac accidentally treated with a powerful stimulant instead of his usual sedative.

Not so long ago I would have reacted to this sort of incident with a mixture of anger and acute embarrassment. Now I can face it with the stoic calm that must surely be one of the prime lessons to be learned from parenthood.

Nevertheless, I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to anyone who was attempting to do a bit of shopping in the Eldon Square area that day, and found the quiet contemplation of their purchases disturbed by a small but energetic tornado.

The Master of Disguise before his haircut
Taking appropriate evasive action is made more difficult by the fact that the child is a master of disguise, making Carlos the Jackal look like a rank amateur.

Master coiffeur Tom O'Malley in action
Already he has run through periods with jet black straight hair and luxuriant blond curls. Now, thanks to the attentions of Gosforth master coiffeur Tom O’Malley of Michael Dominic, he is a little boy with short, fair hair. This was a statesmanlike compromise between my “run the clippers all over on number two” and my wife’s “maybe you could just stop those front curls hanging over his eyes.”

After - all right, it's out of focus, but you get the gist

One consequence is that he now bears absolutely no resemblance to the photo in the passport we recently obtained for him. Does this mean that our next holiday will also have to spent driving around the UK? I sincerely hope not, to the point of being prepared to sabotage my own car.

As for Charlie’s own car-shaped baby walker, I was informed on Sunday that it is now redundant. “Tip or e-Bay?” I enquired. “Attic,” came the reply. “We might have another one.” According to that oh-so-helpful friend we visited, this is the only sure-fire cure for being dangerously obsessed with an only child.

On the surface my new super-calm persona was smiling benignly as I digested this idea. But just beneath it I was modelling for Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.”

Originally published in The Journal, Newcastle upon Tyne.

1 comment:

CC said...

Handsome Charlie in his new haircut.

You are too much. Thanks for the laughs.