Have you met baby Oliver? Of course you have. Ever since his birth was announced on Tom and Laura?s Facebook page, he?s been hard to escape. He?s got endless photos on Flickr, a clip of his birth on YouTube, and even his own blog ? Oliverlicious ? updated daily with photos and clips of baby doing? well not much at all. New parents Tom and Laura just can?t stop talking about their new baby, and Oliver creeps into almost every conversation. ?He?s an old soul you know?, ?I just can?t wait to take Oliver to his first rugby match? and ?the health visitor says he?s the best pooper she?s ever seen?.
Their friends can?t understand how Tom and Laura have turned into the sort of people who can have whole conversations about poo, and who cheer every time baby Oliver farts. ?How adorable!? they say, forcing a grin onto their faces, as they?re passed yet another photo of Oliver sleeping. Tom?s work colleagues try to avoid passing Tom?s desk on the way to get their morning latte, in case he insists they watch the clip of Oliver?s birth again. The proud dad has completely Oliver-ised his deskspace, with a baby Oliver screensaver and mousemat ? even his office mug has a close up of Oliver, carefully positioned so it looks like he?s giving Tom a snotty kiss every time he takes a sip of his coffee. It?s starting to get a bit much, especially as Tom interrupted a conference call with his new client yesterday to have a ten-minute gurgling phone conversation with his new son.
And then there?s the minefield of ?The Discussion?. The one that starts with ?So who do you think he looks like?? Tom and Laura?s friends have learned to never say what they really think. Telling new parents their darling baby is the spit of Gollum, Voldemort or that senator that looks like a frog just won?t go down well.
At least their friends don?t have to spend too long discussing the merits of cloth nappies over disposables, and Oliver?s dribbling habits. Oliver?s day is crammed full of baby classes designed to ?nurture his inquisitive nature?. So you?ll be halfway through a mid-morning coffee with Laura and baby Oliver when you?ll hear??Must dash ? we?ll be late for Oliver?s baby signing class ? you know he told me yesterday he wanted milk. Look ? he?s doing it again! Clenching his fist like that ? that?s the baby sign for milk. Isn?t that amazing? The teacher says she?s never seen such an advanced baby.?
Of course Oliver is brighter, brainier and bigger than all the other babies you?ve ever met. Even if you don?t notice it straight away, Tom and Laura will remind you. ?Angus is positively tiny next to Oliver ? of course he?s into his 6 to 12 months ski suit already?. And when they?re not talking about how adorable and advanced their baby is, they?re discussing how terrible all the other parents seem to be at their job. ?Fancy taking Harriet out without a hat again?. ?I can?t believe they give Charlie and Ed crisps?? ?I?m sure there?s something wrong with Amy, she?s not even crawling yet?. ?Did you see that toddler ? she had her ears pierced!? Beware the new parent police.
Of course Laura probably wouldn?t confess to the countless times she?s scooped jars of baby food into Tupperware to make it look homemade. And you won?t catch Tom talking about the time he forgot Oliver was in the car and was halfway round Checkers before he realised he?d left baby in the car.
That?s because Tom and Laura are sleep-deprived, scared and slightly paranoid. By the time they?re pregnant with their third they won?t be updating their blog every day or ordering vast canvasses of pictures of dribbling baby Oliver. Being besotted by their new baby is just a coping strategy to deal with how unprepared they feel about being parents. And also to distract them from wondering if they?re ever going to get their life back.