At lunch-time yesterday Aidan was five minutes away from sleep. We didn't know at the time. He didn't look like he was. And he was doing the opposite. We were in a bussling food court in Windsor after visiting the Castle with our friend, Beth, who's visiting us from Seattle.
Aidan had everyone staring at us. Not in the cute-young-baby-with-dad way, more a what's-that-noise way. I didn't know he was five minutes away from sleep. It could have have been 5 hours. And felt like five days. I would have done anything to get him to nod off.
And, I suppose, I did.
Recently we've been using an exaggerated bouncing up-and-down walk to bounce him calm, which could be confused with a walk needing a government grant from the Ministry of Silly walks. We've also borrowed the heavy patting of his behind technique, as used to great effect by a grandmother friend of ours. And in desperate situations, both. Which is what rather self-consciously happened yesterday.
I kept looking around thinking I might be arrested. But thankfully the end of the five minutes eventually came.
I told this story to someone this morning and they said: 'If I saw you doing that I'd just have given you a knowing wink and a smile.' She's obviously a parent. But I do think we might want to get him used to a gentle calming shush. People wouldn't stare so much.
Aidan was a real hit with the ladies this lunchtime. We took him for his first central London trip and ate with Fred and Caroline at Princi. The waitresses would come and fuss with him, 'How old is he?' and 'Hasn't he got gorgeous feet?' were just two coochy-coo toned questions. He's doing really well at the moment around crowds and different faces. We expected at least one big 'ole cry, but we only the saw the hint of one before he was fed, changed and rocked to sleep.
This happened last weekend too. We expected a scared little boy to be completely overwhelmed while attending the Salvation Army in Bolton on Sunday morning but apart from looking stunned as the band played and in a complete perplexed state when everyone stood up to start singing he was fuss free. This is very unlike his dad as a child on Sundays. It may have helped that nan and grandad took over for a while. And that we left as soon as we thought he'd had enough of everyone's attention.
Back to today, when we got home after leaving Fred and Caz, his mum decided to be silly and sing lots of goofy songs. She started with a favourite of ours during China then she got me to sing vintage Spice Girls and Bon Jovi. Then Erin moved on to Loveshack. This is when he gave us his first ever giggle. It was a full hearty belly laugh. Not sure if he fluked it as he's only given us yelps since. But it's still ringing in my ear.
The first mistake was walking into the lounge with Aidan's bottle firmly clamped between my lips. I know I shouldn't have but the formula wasn't coming out and I just wanted to unclog it. I won't don't that ever again. I promise. The look Alison gave me will stay with me for a while. And getting told there are more germs in your mouth than there are on the floor made me feel Aidan's size. I usually would have knocked it back saying that he's all right and he'll be able to develop bacteria to fight it. But seeing as he hasn't been 100 per cent recently I didn't have an argument.
The next time I was chastened was for the below series of photos.
Not a mistake at all really. A rather good idea, I think. But letting Owen jump on the furniture was, rightly so, frowned upon. Alison and Railton have rules which we want Aidan to abide by in the future such as eating meals at the kitchen table, away from the lounge. We'll do this, not only when he's old enough but when we have a separate kitchen and lounge. Our London apartment wouldn't accommodate this at the moment. It looks like they're doing a great job teaching about respecting their own and other people's furniture too. When they saw what I had Owen doing on my mum's conservatory couch Alison turned white. We were having great fun too. I'd love to say it was all about the photos. But it was mainly about rebellion. I'd never have got away with doing it myself when I was Owen's age. Or now for that matter. So Owen did it for me instead.
'I have no idea what I've packed for myself,' Erin looked over to me and smiled as we crossed Vauxhall Bridge to leave London for Bolton. Neither did I. The preparations were all about the boy who was sitting in the car seat sucking on his dummy deciding whether the motion of the vehicle was going to send him to sleep or make him sick. His clothes took up three quarters of our suitcase, he had another bag for his food paraphernalia, and we even had his crib tightly packed in the boot so he would have a little home from home in my old bedroom up north.
Thankfully he slept instead of being travel sick and loved the white noise of the car doing 70 down the motorway. It was only when we more or less came to a standstill on the M25 when he stirred and had his first bout of road rage. This was only 30 minutes after we started. Thankfully it didn't outlast the traffic jam.
With a pit stop at a services it took us 6 hours, 2 more than usual, to get to sunny Bolton and apart from a screamy last 25 minutes when Erin sang 26 verses of Kum Bah Yah - calming him, not making him scream - we made it.
We hadn't put off going up north but we also hadn't rushed to take Aidan there either. It's not that we didn't want to see everyone's reactions when they saw him or see everyone generally. But to me, it's a pretty intimidating place. My mum was born to be a nan and our best friends up there are on their second children, making parenting look easy. We just wanted to be ready.
We needn't have been worried.
Nan and grandad met the wee fella with open arms and he had a good kick around on his swiftly set up baby gym before a swiftly set up bath-time then sleep, which he did in his crib (swiftly set up by grandad and I).
He slept very well and was cheery during the morning. The next test was when our friends, Alison and Railton, came up with their two children, Owen and Joesphine, their two parents, Alan and Jenny, and their brother, Matt with two dogs whose names escape me. Aidan was due for a nap when they arrived but lasted long enough for a few photos.
Stripes are in this season.
The closest Aidan, Owen and Josephine got to looking at the camera without any crying.
We were hoping to pick up a few parenting tips by being around wise parents and grandparents, and Erin got one just before she put him down for his morning nap. Patting his backside quite firmly put him sound asleep in a stranger's arms in seconds. Amazing.
And as for being intimidated? Railton told us about a nappy change he had made that morning which involved poo on hands, socks and a teddy bear. That didn't just make me chuckle but physically relax.
There's more about their visit. I'm going to save it for the next post. It's about me being shouted at. Twice. For now, I'll leave you with a proud grandad feeding his grandson.