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