The Look

There are many challenges that come with having a new baby, that remains needless to say, but certainly one of the hardest things is how you cope with a screaming baby in public. Thankfully, this just so happens to be accompanied by one of the easiest and likable things about having a new baby, which is the superstar like status you as a family receive when your little angel is being cute in public.

On our recent trip out to the coast I experienced the whole range of attention from people around us, including one of the hardest things I have had to deal with since we have had our daughter in tow.

A feed was due, and we began walking the streets of the coastal village looking for a place to sit. It was teaming with day trippers as her grumbles for food escalated into screams of hunger, and I could feel people’s eyes land upon us. I looked around, catching the stares, feeling more self conscious than ever before. Some I’m sure were looks of pity, those feeling sorry for the young family with a howling child. Although I couldn’t say I saw those ones, all I was able to see were looks of disgruntlement from those whose park bench meal of fish and chips had been ruined by the screaming baby. You might think that this was all in my head, but why would I believe that not to be true when I myself have felt a baby has compromised a flight I’ve been on or cafe I have sat in. My temperature rose and I started to sweat, all I wanted to do was go home and deal with this in private and behind closed doors. I couldn’t stand the thought of people criticising our ability as parents; “not able to control our screaming child”.

We eventually found somewhere quiet we could go, and my wife fed her on a picnic bench. Afterwards, once full and satisfied, our little angel emerged and started to charm the holidaymakers around us. We walked up onto the cliff top with her strapped to my front, facing forward, and there wasn’t a single person who walked passed us that didn’t smile or let out a noise that people only let out when they are overwhelmed as their heart warms. Families, pensioners, teenagers, and even the sort of person that you would normally associate with making growling noises went “ahh”.

This was of course a great feeling, you feel proud of your daughter, you feel proud of yourself, but sometimes, for someone like me, this attention can begin to overflow and almost feel invasive. Throughout my life I have been the sort of person that blends in, never fussed over and usually left alone. Naturally introverted, I don’t usually make the effort to stand out, and have sometimes gone out of my way to avoid being noticed, and so maybe you can understand why now that I have a baby that draws the interest of others, I feel slightly vulnerable to this sort of attention at times.

For example, you might be enjoying a private moment with your family, trying to have a meal or sit in the park, and you hear total strangers making comments about the baby as they pass by or sit on the table next to yours. You might not think that this is unusual, we are instinctively wired to have an interest in the offspring of our species I suppose, and as I said more often than not I actually feel that this is a really nice feeling, but imagine that you remove the baby from this scene. You are out on a date with your partner, enjoying a nice dinner for two, and then you hear a group on the next table discussing amongst themselves what a cute couple you are. That’s weird isn’t it? Maybe my introverted self is the only one who thinks so, but it is a feeling that becomes notable.

So when your baby does charm all who see her, I suppose you get a taste of what is it like to be someone with unexpected and new found celebrity. She’s fine with this of course, I doubt she will have any feelings of self-consciousness until she is a teenager, so this look, whether of upset or adoration, is something that I will need to get used to.

Pub

We decided that because we had a few extra days together over Easter we would do some things as a family – a new family – and what better way than starting with a bank holiday stroll to a local, country side, pub.

The walk took us into a surprisingly remote area of the city across farmland. We casually walked along the meadow, taking in the fresh air and watching the spring lambs frolic in the fields around us. This was the first time I used the baby carrier, and I had approached it tentatively. I spent most of the time uncertain of how well I was doing and learning slightly forward, getting a crick in my back, fearing that I might accidentally suffocate her as she nuzzled into my chest.

I checked her again, fast asleep, lulled by the bobbing of my stride.

The thirst we worked up on the walk was satisfied by a pint and accompanied by some crisps. Our daughter was greeted with celebrity status, charming the bank holiday visitors with her docile and playful mood. We were relaxed. We sat their as parents thankful for the break from home, enjoying the time together. As I sat back I looked at us all together. It was a nice afternoon, and I felt proud. Proud of my successful baby carrier experiment, but mainly proud of our daughter, and how she provoked such a positive reaction with no effort. People other than us seem to like her too. She did nothing much, nor did we, but it was enough.

What else could we do with this long weekend?