Some days are dull, ordinary days where nothing of any merit or note seems to occur (this is an accurate description of much of my time. This is not my fault, rather that of my parents who could hardly be deemed as ‘motivators’, their sole concern being desperately attempting to ‘catch up on some sleep.’ If it was left to me, if my still limited mobility wasn’t restricting me, I would probably be running the country by now, or, at the very least, I would have managed to get up and get rid of that extremely unflattering photograph of me from the mantelpiece. I look as if I am behaving as a conduit for electricity, my eyes wide, my hair on end. It’s humiliating.)
And then there are other days which are just that little bit extra special, which leave you feeling wonderful and as if anything is possible. This was one such day.
The day, however, didn’t augur well with my parents and I all waking in ill-tempers, my bad mood, I must confess was a heady combination of over tiredness and not enough sleep. Not that I would ever admit this to Mother or Father because to do so would be tantamount to admitting that they were right. ‘You need to sleep darling,’ Father had advised me around 2am. ‘You’ll get yourself overtired,’ he’d added, sagely. Of course, I duly ignored him; Father is not renowned for his expert guidance. I remember when Mother was bemoaning her boring diet (‘made up of mostly sawdust’ Father had joked at her plate of plain cous cous, a gag ill-received by a hungry, dieting Mother who has been known to have monumental meltdowns when there’s a rumble in her tummy) when he’d suggested she switched from cakes to ring doughnuts. ‘They’ve got holes in so that obviously means they’re fewer calories,’ he’d argued confidently. I’m four months old and even I know this is utter rubbish, and Mother’s icy glare suggested that she shared my contemptuous view.
Still, I didn’t take much notice of Mother either at 3.30am when she suggested that ‘go to sleep darling. If you don’t you’ll just get angry and upset and when you get upset, we all do.’ The reason I didn’t heed Mother’s warning was because – to her shame – she has been known to lie. For example, frequently at night she tells me if I go to sleep ‘right now then there’ll be a lovely treat for you when you wake.’ And, how many times have I woken to a treat: none, unless you count my morning cuddles which I most definitely do not.
After a few silent tears (‘she’s having a full-on tantrum’ Father had exclaimed, fearful) I did eventually get to sleep. And asleep I’m sure I would have stayed, at least for a couple more hours had it not been for the motorbike revving his engine outside our window at 6am.
‘What the f-‘
‘Pound for the baby’s swear box,’ announced Mother firmly, holding out her hand.
‘Bloody hell, are you bloody kidding me?’ continued Father, ignoring Mother’s outstretched palm. ‘What sodding time is this? What the…’
I reckoned I made a good five pounds just from Father’s one sentence then. Which was useful as I still have my heart set on that beautiful white rocking horse I espied in the toy shop recently. Now, I just needed to work out how I was going to get into my ‘swear’ box money box, having, as it did, no discernible opening.
As I always do on waking, I immediately remembered that I was extremely hungry. I accordingly gave my parents warning of this fact; I have found that the louder I scream the swifter Mother and Father’s movements are. This is an invaluable tip which I must remember to pass onto newborn babies the next time I see any.
We were downstairs in minutes, bottle satisfyingly attached to me. I allowed myself to relax and for a moment, I thought I was going to fall into a slumber but luckily I managed to bring myself back round in time. You see, sleep was the last item on my agenda for today, as I eyed my now beloved musical playmat out of the corner of my eye.
Fortunately, Mother seems to have developed mind reading skills because as soon as I had taken my last slurp, I was promptly deposited on my back. ‘Play with the nice toy darling,’ Mother muttered. ‘Mummy’s just going to put her feet up for a moment,’ she added, tucking her feet underneath her and yawning ostensibly. I thought this was impossibly lazy of her; surely there were better things she could be doing with her time. And besides, why the need to ‘put her feet up’, especially given that she had just emerged from bed where her legs had been very clearly horizontal. I also noticed that she was still attired in her nightwear. Again, I considered this extremely slovenly and a poor example for me. (I was still in my sleeping garment but this didn’t matter as I was wearing a babygro and anyone will tell you that babygros are multi-functional and transition from night to day with stylish ease.)
Anyway, I didn’t have too much more of an opportunity to ponder Mother’s slobbish behaviour because before I knew what was happening, I was asleep. And I only became aware of this fact when I prised my eyes open foggily a little while later. I wanted to ball up my fists and rub them vigorously to clear them, as I have seen my Mother do frequently. However, whilst I managed to get my hands scrunched up appropriately, I didn’t quite make it to my eyes and instead accidentally punched myself in the nose, much to my fury. I let out a loud scream.
‘Oh hello darling, you’re awake,’ mumbled Mother, opening her own eyes. If I wasn’t very much mistaken, she too was rousing from slumber. I narrowed my eyes at her suspiciously.
I waited for the mist to clear from my eyes and when it finally did, I was able to make out my surroundings. If I wasn’t very much mistaken, I was still on my playmat. Well, things really were going downhill here if the inhabitants of this house were having to sleep on the floor, albeit with a blanket thrown over me haphazardly. I tried to give a loud ‘tut’ to express my disdain to Mother but it came out as a raspberry. I really have to get better at my noises.
‘Give mummy a moment sweetheart and then I’ll pick you up,’ Mother said, lazily. She really was sloth-like today, and she looked dreadful – inky eyes and pale, grey skin.
Anyway, I didn’t have time to wait for Mother to pull herself together because I had come to a terrible realisation – my good friend and teddy bear RoRo was out of my reach. He was more than an arm’s length away from me, a distance which felt like a mile. I reached out for him. ‘RoRo, come here,’ I said. ‘RoRo. Come here.’ But RoRo ignored me, as usual. He’s quite a rude teddy bear. ‘RORO!’ I ordered. ‘Come here so I can pull your ears and pinch your nose.’ RoRo stayed still.
Well, I wasn’t having that. I stretched. A little. Then a little more. And a little more. And before I knew it I was on my side. One more little stretch…RoRo was almost within grasp…and…
I was over.
I had rolled over.
At first, I just stayed silent and still, my face pressed into the carpet as I absorbed what had happened (to be honest, I had no choice. I was firmly stuck with no idea how I was going to right myself again). But then, the silence was broken with a loud:
‘OH MY GOSH!!! My BABY! You’re AMAZING! You rolled over!’
Mother somehow found a hitherto hidden energy, lifting me up into the air like a trophy and covering me with kisses which I gleefully accepted. Because I realised she was right. I was amazing. And what’s more, this was a huge step forward for my mobility. Towards freedom! Now that I could roll over, the world was mine for the taking. Where to next? I was independent, at last after weeks of relying on Mother and Father. I was ecstatic.
But it turns out that rolling over can be pretty exhausting and I burrowed down in Mother’s arms. ‘Let’s have a cuddle darling,’ she suggested, her cheeks damp with tears. I had no idea why she’d been crying; probably something Father had said earlier. I let her embrace me and I could feel sleep engulfing me. I was sure that I would dream of myself, rolling away into the sunset.
I was just on the verge of sleep when I remembered: after all that effort I still didn’t have RoRo in my hands. ‘MOTHER,’ I screamed so loudly that I made her jump.