Tuesday 18 October 2011

And the bad news is: my son is not a psychic

My mother was almost 45 when I was born, so there was never any chance that I might acquire a younger sibling. Which was nice, so far as I was concerned.

Indeed my principal objection to my early domestic arrangements was that they included a grown-up brother who still lived at home, preventing me from being the sole focus of my parents’ attention.

I longed to be an only child, and conversations over the years with sibling-free acquaintances have revealed few complaints; except among those who have found themselves responsible for the care of two ill and aged parents, with no one to share the practical or emotional burden.

I have nodded sympathetically to their tales of woe, while privately thinking that it constituted a reasonable payback for the undivided parental interest they enjoyed during childhood.

So I cut articles out of newspapers and magazines about how happy only children can be, and left them strategically positioned around the house in places where my wife was likely to see them.

I also lost no opportunity to tut about the Earth’s population approaching the seven billion mark, the looming energy crisis and the collapse of the global economy. All making it very undesirable for us to bring more children into the world, and pretty much guaranteeing that they would have a miserable time if we did.

This worked as well as most of my schemes, and Mrs Hann somehow managed to get pregnant, against staggering odds. We then felt compelled to introduce two-year-old Charlie to some of the basic facts of life, at least a decade before anyone tried to do so with me, in an attempt to stop him bouncing on his expanding mother while shouting “I squish mummy”.

This worked a treat. He continued to behave in exactly the same way, but now yelled “I squish the baby” as he leapt on top of her.

He also announced to anyone who passed his way that “Mummy’s got a girl baby in her tummy”. And, despite his evident immaturity and the fact that he had no track record whatsoever as a clairvoyant, we started to believe this to be true. No doubt partly because, in his mother’s case at least, it chimed with her own wish to have a daughter.

Just over a week ago, in the absence of any suitable volunteers for babysitting duties, we had the pleasure of Charlie’s company when we went to hospital for a 20 week anatomy scan. Throughout the journey we tried to maintain his interest by telling him that we were going to take a look at his little brother or sister.

“Sister,” he corrected us pointedly each time.

He made friends with a little girl of around his own age in the waiting room and they rampaged around in the noisiest possible fashion. It was obvious from the facial expressions of some spectators that this was making those experiencing their first pregnancy wonder what on earth they had let themselves in for.

Then we had the scan and the sonographer pronounced, after confirming that we would like to know the outcome, that our second child was going to be another boy.

At which all hell broke loose as Charlie wailed “I don’t want a brother!” Hoping, presumably, for a response along the lines of “Oh, sorry, I hadn’t realised. In that case, it’s a girl.”

Mrs Hann has, on the whole, borne any resulting disappointment much more stoically than her son.

As for me, study of the Hann family tree suggested an inherent bias to the male, so it was the conclusion I expected. And I am naturally attracted to the economies we will be able to realise by passing Charlie’s old clothes, toys and other impedimenta on to the new baby.

That’s on top of the huge savings I am already making now that I have accepted that Charlie has no psychic powers, and have stopped giving him a crayon and each day’s racing pages in the hope that he will pick me a winner. He has been a consistent disappointment in picking Lottery numbers, too; but at least I can now hope for more profitable gifts in his brother.

Originally published in The Journal, Newcastle upon Tyne.

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