Surviving invasion of the tiny tyrants
LONGTIME friends of ours recently had a baby, and experienced for the first time the joy of a dear little newborn in the house.
Mostly, they wrecked.
Their daughter is a gorgeous thing and, like all babies, a tiny terry-towellinged tyrant.
Like Hannibal in Huggies, she marched into their previously free lives in her jackbooties and enslaved her exhausted parents to meet her every need.
She colonised every corner of their territory with her stuff, overcoming their sole defences of sharp corners and shiny surfaces.
She dictated the household’s every waking and rare sleeping moment.
Her mum, dad, extended family and friends are, of course, enraptured.
However, it’s fair to say their dog did not take well its demotion from most favoured pet. It was spotted sucking a dummy.
But our friends should be extra proud. Their daughter flawlessly executed the tac-
were tics in the Newborn Invasion Handbook provided to all babies on arrival — indeed, our territory has been conquered by three waves of infant invaders and we are yet to regain sovereignty.
I suspect that when babies are placed side-by-side, they’re not gurgling nonsensically at each other — they’re exchanging coded operational reports.
“Psychological warfare going well, stop. Woke parents on the half-hour all night, as instructed, stop. Launching phase II in three ... two ... one ... WAAAH!”
They’re also impervious to interrogation, never divulging crucial information in the face of intense questioning, like: “What’s wrong? Are you hungry? Tired? Wet? Too hot? Too cold? What is it?!” You’ll never get a thing out of them.
Often new parents beseech old hands: “Why did nobody tell us what it’s real- ly like?” But should we alert them to what lies ahead? Is forewarned really forearmed — or would it just make them forlorn?
I don’t reckon our horror stories about eye-gouging fatigue and confusion are going to help — although I’ve told my fair share.
No one can be prepared for the sleep deprivation and isolation of looking after a newborn unless they have actually been through NASA astronaut training.
I take the “benevolent nanny” approach. It’s slightly condescending but I pat the bone-tired new parent gently on the arm, attempt to muster a gentle twinkle in my eye, and assure them that It Will All Get Better.
Though I suspect that, with three kids’ worth of oppression imprinted on my face, I come across less Mary Poppins and more Mrs Doubtfire.