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"THIS LIFE BUSINESS"


I've had a lot of time to think about it and I still can't work out why mummy and daddy made me. I know that they did … the thing. But why make a baby? Why make me?

Not that I'm complaining, you understand. After all, if they hadn't, I wouldn't be here thinking about these things, would I? Already I can't imagine a world without me in it. But I do keep thinking: why?

Do they realise – I mean really realise – what they they've let themselves in for? Do they know how much sleep they're going to lose, how much mess it's going to be, how much it's all going to cost?

I don't want to be a bother to them, but I won't be able to help it. All that crying, feeding, nappy changing. Later, all that teething and tantrums.

Really, why do they want me?

Obviously they want the human race to go on, but I think that there are already quite a lot of people in the world. I heard someone say that there are seven billion. I'm not very good at numbers just yet, but that seems to me to be quite a big number.

I suppose another child is one thing, but your own child is another. So why do mummy and daddy want their own child?

Is it so a bit of them will still be around when they've gone? Is it because they want someone to love whatever whenever? Is it because they want someone to love them whatever whenever? Is it because it will give their lives a new dimension, a new focus, a new meaning?

Let's face it – it's irrational really, isn't it? But I'm glad they chose to make me and I'm really looking forward to meeting them. I know that they will make me happy. I hope that I'll make them happy.

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I wonder what they are going to call me?

I don't want the same name as loads of other kids of my age. You know. Harry. Jack, Oliver. Amelia, Lilly, Olivia. That sort of thing.

But I don't want something so strange that kids make fun of me or I have to keep explaining it to people. You know. Some reference to nature or an obscure philosopher or the nickname of daddy's football team .

I really hope that mummy and daddy have thought about this.

**********

I heard on the radio that one in three children in this country is living in a home where there are not two parents.

I want a mummy and a daddy and I want them there all the time that I am growing up. They both made me and I want both of them to stick around while I work out this life business.

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I wonder what mummy and daddy expect of me?

Do they expect me to be cute? Do they want me me to sleep through the night? Do they want me to eat everything? Will they expect me to crawl and walk and talk as soon as the other kids of my age?

And what do I expect of them?

I hope that they'll talk to me a lot, read to me a lot, tickle me a lot. I think they'll need to be patient with me. I think I'd like to learn how to swim. And to play football.

**********

You know, I'm having trouble remembering things. No sooner have I thought something and it's gone.

I don't know if I'm going to remember anything of this when I'm out in the big, wide world.

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The world seems very small to me, but I know that it must be really, really big because once we drove for ages and ages and ages and daddy told mummy that we had reached the end of the world. It's called Essex.

And there must be other worlds with other creatures because I hear people talking about them and they don't seem like us at all.

There's a world where nobody understands anything. It's called Europe.

And there's another world where the creatures are really fat. It's called America.

**********

Mummy likes classical music and she says that it is good for me. She listens to it all the time on the radio and once she took me to a concert. Those bass notes really get to me. But I love it. I do.

Mummy has lots of favourites, but I find it hard to catch foreign names in here. I think the composers she likes the best are called Toast-art and Heat-oven.

I wonder why we all like music so much. Maybe it's something to do with rhythm which is there in all music.

Even when mummy isn't playing music, I've got rhythm. There's my heart beat and there's her heart beat, but they are at different speeds and loudness. I call it my baby music. Roll over, Heat-oven.

**********

Mummy and daddy are both political and we keep going to political meetings. I don't really understand politics, but people at these meetings must love childbirth because they keep talking about labour.

All the time, they are passing motions. I think I could do that.

And they seem to enjoy themselves a lot because they are always having working parties.

But I heard someone shouting about someone cutting child benefit. Sounds painful to me.

At one meeting, somebody was asking daddy about his new work/life balance. I think this is a kind of weighing scale for grown ups.

**********

Gosh, what has she been eating? I really don't feel that well.

Do you think, if I kick her hard enough, she'll get the message?

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I don't know if I like these scans. OK, mummy and daddy get really excited and I can tell that they are really happy.

But someone moves me around when I'm trying to rest.

And can they really see me when I can't see them? And what's this fascination with my bits? Can't a baby have a bit of privacy?

I wonder what I look like? I heard mummy say that I look gorgeous. Do I really?

I have very little idea of what I look like. I can't open my eyes in here and I can barely move around. All I know is that I have a lovely thumb and sometimes they say I'm going to be a great footballer.

**********

It's getting really tight in here.

It must be time to come out soon.

**********

Things seem to be on the move. There's a lot of excitement going on and people talking about something called compactions - whatever they are.

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Uh, uh. We're moving quickly now. I don't know where we're going. I hope it isn't to Essex.

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Those compactions are happening all the time now.

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Oh, my!!! All that pushing and pulling, all that slipping and sliding, all that screaming. I'm not going through that again, I'll tell you.

OK, cord cut, body cleaned. That's better.

Gosh, it's bright here. I think I'm going to keep my eyes shut.

Mummmydadddy! I'm not sure this is coming out right. Sounds like I'm crying. Don't they understand me? Sounds like I'm not the only one crying either.

Oh, this is really nice. I'm lying on mummy's breast. I love the softness. I love the smell.

I think I'm going to like this life business …


ROGER DARLINGTON

Published on 30 December 2012

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