Monday 5 December 2016

This Man's Life: There's a crack in everything ... that's how the light gets in, baby

Published 13/11/2016 | 02:30

'In fairness to the 45th President of the United States of America, everyone seems to be a bear these days. This has been the case ever since Emilia read a baby book about the little bear in the forest' (stock photo)
'In fairness to the 45th President of the United States of America, everyone seems to be a bear these days. This has been the case ever since Emilia read a baby book about the little bear in the forest' (stock photo)

There's nothing, repeat nothing - not large amounts of cash, not Champagne, not an exceptional meal, not a swim in a warm ocean surrounded by smiling dolphins - to beat the sound of silence after your baby has finally gone to sleep for the night.

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When this happens, when Emila nods off, it reminds me of those Thomas Carlyle lines about when the great oak is felled the whole forest echoes with its fall, but a hundred acorns are sown in silence by an unnoticed breeze. In our house, it is a moment of poetry, of not un-noticed relief, after hours of dreading that our child was not going to go asleep again. I had that dread the other night at 2am. She woke up in her cot, crying.

When I say crying it was arguably that put-on cry that babies do when they are playing you like a violin and they know it - and you know it but you don't have the guts to tell her that you know. So I did what I always do when I am at my wits end with my baby: I gave her a soother. Indignant, she stood up in the cot and put her hands up for me to pick up her. Thus began a psychological game in the early hours that was to end in tears. Mine more than hers. I tried the little angel with her soother once more, proceeding by rubbing her head, and attempted to put her down in her cot again. Even more indignant this time (in fact she couldn't have looked more indignant bordering on aggrieved if she tried) Emilia stood up and put her hands up for me to pick her up. And now. While my wife slept oblivious in the big bed, baby and I persisted this drawn-out charade of soother-and-trying-to-put-her-down-in-her-cot; until I gave up and picked her up and put her in bed between me and the sleeping wife.

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