Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Good Omens

It's funny sometimes when I start thinking about writing to you. I'll have an idea or remember something and then, more often than not, all sorts of things suddenly happen in line with what I want to tell you and the idea I had drops into place.  It might just be coincidence. I like to think if it as omens.  Like amongst this chaos, we are actually on the right path and every now and then there are little pointers which remind us of this.

I want to tell you about a concept which is quite difficult and I don't really know how we learn it. There's a funny thing in this world called personal space. It's really about how near you stand to someone and how close two people can be in a space without making each other uncomfortable.

I'll try and explain using Cole as an example. He's only just getting to know me really because I've not been in his life for very long and he's only three anyway so he's not been around for very long but he's learning the unusual rules of this world, as you'll have to. 

He explores new things and new people almost daily. As he was getting to know me, he'd run quite close, then back away. As he grew a bit more confident he'd maybe run one of his cars quickly over my leg, I told you he loves cars. He'd keep coming towards me but he'd never cross this invisible line of personal space. I don't know how he understands it as a three year old but he seems to know instinctively.

One day I broke the rules. Your mum was getting him ready to go out and she was struggling to get his wellies on. After a bit of too and frowing I bent down to help, held his boot and pushed his foot in.

He said very quickly: Are you touching me?

It was a funny thing for him to say. It wasn't really a question. It wasn't really a statement. It was somehow an understanding that something has changed and he'd noticed it. Somehow the rules had been adjusted and he wasn't sure how he felt about it.

When me and your mum went on our second date we went to see a play but it was a bit different and we walked around different places rather than sitting down. We didn't know anyone else and we hardly knew each other.

When you like someone you want to move more closely into their space but when you don't know them very well you are also probably more aware of the space and the funny rules that go with it than normal. So you are respectful of it.

It's an unusual feeling but a really pleasant one and something makes you want to break through that invisible barrier but you dare not. It's probably easier if you think of it with magnets. If you push two magnets against each other the wrong way you can feel a force but you can't see it. I used to push magnets around for ages because it felt so strange.

Part of me thought about reaching out and holding your mum's hand. I could see it hanging close by and it was near enough to touch but I also knew that at that point it was the wrong thing to do. As we got to know each other better, I told her all this and she said it was a good job I didn't try to hold her hand because that would have been weird!!

At some point in my sleep last night I must have been snoring and your mum decided to close my mouth. I didn't know that but had a very strange dream where my face was plasticine and someone was trying to reshape it. I think we must have a heightened awareness of our space, even when we're asleep.

Many things I have written to you about so far have been about real things that you can touch and hold and make sense of. But you must also be ready for all these secret and hidden things which no one seems to talk about or teach but happen anyway. If you misread some of these signals you can get yourself into a bit of bother.

You were nineteen weeks old yesterday and me and your mum have to start thinking about how we will parent you, how you will learn all these rules and how we can help shape you so that everything isn't so confusing.

Some people say that when babies cry you should leave them so they go to sleep and don't get over reliant on parents. Some say it's cruel and by doing that you're just teaching them to cope with sadness and rejection. There’s a proper phrase for it, I’m sure your mum knows it.


(She says it’s called sleep training and controlled crying that I’m talking about.)

See. These funny unwritten rules never stop happening, even when you’re forty. Me and your mum, we're looking forward to learning all this with you. We just hope we get it right and I think I want you to know, right from now, before you were born, that we'll always try our best. We might get it wrong sometimes. But we will always be trying to make everything the very best for you. Always.

Oh. And you must also know that all the personal space stuff goes out of the window when you're a baby. We get to hold you and cuddle you and squeeze your little podgy arms and legs as much as we like.