Pat McDer­mott

Giv­ing ba­bies ad­vice be­fore they’re born makes per­fect sense – af­ter all, it’s a cap­tive au­di­ence, says Pat McDer­mott.

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - CONTENTS -

has some ad­vice for ba­bies

When I was hav­ing ba­bies (that would be to­wards the end of the Juras­sic pe­riod) moth­ers-to-be were pretty evenly di­vided into two groups. The first group played Mozart to their preg­nant tum­mies every af­ter­noon while they dozed com­fort­ably in a quiet room. The sec­ond group fell sound asleep on the sofa with a box of Tiny Ted­dies on their tummy and Dr. Phil on the TV. I was in the lat­ter. I re­ally wanted to lis­ten to peace­ful mu­sic while my grow­ing baby ab­sorbed a whole lot of “good vi­bra­tions” but some­thing al­ways got in the way. Then all of a sud­den I was in labour and all the clas­si­cal mu­sic in the world wasn’t help­ing.

“Good Vi­bra­tions – YES! The Beach Boys! I loved those guys,” says the MOTH (man of the house). Usu­ally I throw cush­ions at him but this time I whacked him with a jan­dal. “Not the Beach Boys! I’m talk­ing about the mu­sic preg­nant women are sup­posed to lis­ten to. Sooth­ing stuff like De­bussy or Michael Bublé.” “I don’t re­mem­ber you do­ing that.” “That’s be­cause I didn’t.” Back then every day was Mother’s Day. I ran around with my hair on fire – shout­ing, shop­ping, driv­ing, cook­ing, iron­ing moun­tains of school uni­forms, help­ing with home­work. I once made a to­tally amaz­ing shoe­box farm circa 1890. There were chick­ens made from cot­ton wool and tooth­picks. But my spe­cialty was es­says. Nu­clear power, Burke and Wills, Henry VIII, Sir Robert Men­zies – you name it, I wrote about it. I once made iron ore pro­duc­tion sound al­most in­ter­est­ing. Damn I was good! I also fed the cat and walked the dog that other peo­ple had promised to feed and walk and in be­tween I an­swered those dif­fi­cult ques­tions that kids ask.

“If rab­bits are so bad for the en­vi­ron­ment why did God make them cute?” I don’t know. “Are we there yet?” No. “How much fur­ther is ‘not much fur­ther’?” A bit fur­ther.

“On a scale of one to 10, how up­set would you be if the po­lice were at the door?” Whose door? “Our door.” It de­pends. Do they have a search war­rant?

At night I fell asleep fast and dreamed about how many school shoes could dance on the head of a pin. Nev­er­the­less, I wor­ried that in­stead of Tchaikovsky, my un­born baby was only hear­ing me. Me talk­ing, me giv­ing or­ders, me singing Danc­ing Queen. Then I re­minded my­self that the baby I was ex­pect­ing would strug­gle to hear any­thing over the noise of my stom­ach di­gest­ing the choco­late bis­cuits and low-fat yo­ghurt I’d had for lunch.

How wrong I was. Sci­en­tists be­lieve ba­bies can hear sounds as early as 17 weeks. By 26 weeks, they recog­nise voices and wrig­gle with ex­cite­ment! We can talk to them and they can’t get away. Lis­ten up, ba­bies, this is your mother speak­ing! Hey you – yes, you in there, pad­dling about, turn­ing som­er­saults and liv­ing the dream. There’s a lot of stuff you need to know. 1

That noise may sound like an F-35 (that’s a fighter plane, sweetie) but it’s only the hand dryer in the ladies’ loo. 2

I’m not yelling at you. I’d never do that.

I’m yelling at your broth­ers and sis­ters. 3

Never ask any­one, “How’s your day been so far?” 4

Avoid play­grounds. Va­cant lots full of old bricks are safer. 5

I check pock­ets for tis­sues. Check them your­self and you won’t have to worry about what I might find. 6

Sleep­overs are not as much fun as you might think. We’ll drive over and pick you up but ring be­fore 9pm. Of course they’ll talk about you when you’re gone. But who cares! 7 A grown-up, even one who loves you, can only watch so many episodes of Play School. 8

I al­ways choose the square win­dow. It’s of­ten the right one. 9

You are not al­lowed to play the recorder. We’ve all suf­fered enough. 10 You can try turn­ing off my voice in your head when you get older but I’ll worm my way back in be­cause you’ve been lis­ten­ing to me since be­fore you were born.

All of a sud­den I was in labour and clas­si­cal mu­sic wasn’t help­ing.

To con­nect with Pat on Face­book, visit www.face­book.com/PatMcDer­mot­tau.

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