Wednesday, August 31, 2011

no kidding

A few years ago, one humid and extremely wet night, The Other and I found ourselves on a cramped, damp bus travelling along one of those narrow, winding streets that are so typical in Sydney. Three young men, probably in their late 20s and undoubtedly on their way home from a heavy drinking session, pushed their way in at the back of the bus right next to where we were standing. When one of them lit up a cigarette there was a general air of irritation and tut-tutting from all the other passengers, but just when it seemed no one would actually say anything, The Other - all 4 foot 10 of her - stepped forward, snatched the cigarette out of the young buck's mouth, threw it on the floor and ground it to dust.
"You know better than that", she said, "your mother didn't bring you up to be a naughty boy".
Now I do nothing better than I do gutlessness and cowardice, so I was relieved when his mates roared laughing and started calling him "a naughty boy" themselves, and he then joined in and laughed as well.

The Action Woman is good with kids, but she won't take any nonsense from them, no matter how old they are. This is just the right attitude for a recovery room nurse, because if some patients are aggressive to just about anyone in hospitals, people coming out of an anaesthetic can be real animals.
I can't imagine anyone, whether 8 or 80, being told "I want you to cut that out right now!" by this diminutive dragon, and not taking her seriously.

If she is called in to work to help with an emergency caesarian, she will always come home and announce "we had a baby boy/ girl /we had twins". She sings happy birthday to them. But when she meets babies in a social setting, she usually says something like "Oh, you forget just how tiny they are at this age!", because you can't say that all babies are cute, or gorgeous, or look just like someone you know. Many babies, when they are first born, truly have faces that only their mothers could love.

I say all of this because babies with less than four legs a furry tail and floppy ears terrify me.
I can't imagine the  daunting task new mums face; often without the help of someone else who has been through it before and can reassure them they are doing okay.
My own conversation with new mums usually amounts to "how are you feeling, how are you coping", and "how about you bring him around when he can hold his own in a conversation". I don't care if babies sleep all night, I just want to know what they are thinking.

Two things gave me a real buzz this last weekend in Sydney, and both of them are baby-related.
The first was that as soon as my niece was handed the next lad to inherit the family name, he spat the dummy and screamed. My niece and I both laughed, and I got a nice photo of her scaring her poor little nephew.
The other buzz came from walking into b1's house and seeing the photo my niece had enlarged and framed  earlier this year. She cracks me up.

There are a million captions that could go with this photo, but it's a struggle to find a clear winner...


  1. I expect Action Woman can pick her mark, that is she is good at choosing who to confront and who not to. I was perhaps like you about babies until my last niece was born. They are not so hard really, especially when you can hand them back.

  2. Hi Andrew,
    I guess I can enjoy babies once they've passed the "Spode Stage", but til then I worry that when I hand them back they might be chipped.

  3. Before Jack was born, I had VERY little experience with babies. I never held a young one and I never changed a diaper.

    I remember going to a company picnic when Jack was a few months old. A woman said she doesn't like dealing with babies until they're six months old. I was thinking (maybe even said) I totally know what you mean.

    When my sister had her babies recently there was so much pressure to hold them. Why do I want to hold someone else's newborn? I think I said if you NEED me to hold him, so you can get something done...I'm fine doing it. But I don't need to hold him. I'm happy enough to gush over him while you hold him.

    I like the bus story. That's pretty awesome.

  4. Hi Dina,
    Yes, there is a lot of pressure to gush. I feel utterly inept with the whole newborn thing. Nappies are not a problem cos I have a very strong stomach and nature does not bother me, but I suspect if I had managed to carry and deliver a real live miniature person I would resent having to hand it over like some kind of "thing" to be shared around.