He’s sitting up. He’s bashing his hand up and down, often into my face. He’s practicing his gargles. He’s inconsolable at bedtime. He lies in bed going “oiyoiyoiyoiyoi” and “berberberber”. He’s overjoyed when we hold him up to stand on things. He’s teething. He’s trying mashed potato and baby rice. His hair is thinning out and getting lighter. He’s a happy little guy. I love being his Dad.
Everything changed in Scotland on May the third—and nothing changed. The squeaking home of the SNP into minority government was supposed to mark a tectonic shift in British politics, but when Alex Salmond last week unveiled his plan for a referendum on Scottish independence the polls were still showing a yes vote twenty percent behind a no—contrary to the impression given by the nationalistic reader comments on the site of The Scotsman. It’s a relief, I suppose, because the election results had made me wonder what the future held for my relationship with Scotland and Britain, mere weeks after finally getting a UK passport. Would I have to choose between the two? This has been my home for six years, but how could I justify casting my lot with five million over fifty-five when the whole point of taking on a second citizenship was to go beyond narrow nationalism?
I haven’t been posting anything more than random links this month for a few reasons: a couple of substantial posts stuck in draft; a pile of marking taking longer than expected; a website needing redesign, and my first attempts not working; trying to finish an overdue book review for a journal; trying (but not often succeeding) to read anything other than assignments and web snippets; trying to catch up on unanswered email; meeting up with friends if at all possible; and all of this made harder because eighty percent of my brain has been taken over by a small but rapidly growing boy.
I don’t want to turn this into a baby blog, partly because I don’t want to end up like those newspaper columnists who have a kid and feel as if they’ve been handed the Keys to Wisdom, but also because I’ve always tried to respect the privacy of those around me when writing here, which puts a lot of stories off-limits. One day, after all, William may want to tell his own stories for himself. But when they’re about what’s going on in my own head it seems okay to tell them, and it would be a shame not to follow up the saga of his delivery.
The world of baby merchandise is vast and mysterious. Some of the more mysterious labels we’ve seen have been on items of clothing. Remember, these are intended for infants under three months old—basically eating, excreting and sleeping machines:
- DO NOT TUMBLE-DRY
- NOT INTENDED FOR SLEEP WEAR
The original William Ewins emigrated from Britain to New South Wales in the 1850s and ended up in the town of Armidale, where he lived for twenty years before moving to Fiji. When I was living in Canberra I did some genealogical research for my mother into my ancestor using microfilm at the National Library of Australia. Here’s some of what I found, to help show why I thought his name deserved reviving. All excerpts are from The Armidale Express and New England General Advertiser, a newspaper his subscription helped establish. Armidale at the time was a town of around 850 where a dozen eggs cost two shillings and a loaf of bread ninepence.
With this little fella arriving five days late it’s not as if we were taken by surprise, but he kept us guessing right up to the end. The last week of Jane’s pregnancy was a trial every time I had to head into work, wondering whether I would be called straight back again by her first contractions. On Friday afternoon I went to Boots on Princes Street to rent a tens machine, one of those things you’ll never have heard of if you haven’t been through this. Jane hadn’t been sure whether she wanted one, but one of my fellow first aid students recommended them, so we gave it a go. More on this later.
Welcome to the world, my wonderful boy.
Photo taken yesterday morning by his equally wonderful mother when he was a mere thirteen hours old. I’m running back and forth between home and hospital at the moment, but will try to write a longer account of the past few days when I get home tonight. Life’s a blur, as you can imagine.
Only six minutes left for this baby to make a break for it, or it officially takes after its father in being fashionably late...
A few months ago I switched on my server’s referrer logs so that I could join in the fun of seeing what search terms people were using to get here. For most pages it was what you’d expect, although there seemed to be a lot of frustrated teenagers wondering “how to quit wanking”, “what to do if while grinding you get a boner” and “how should chicks masturbate”—all of them drawn like flies to this fly-paper. I should put a comment form there so they can swap notes.
Believe it or not, I planned to spend these months writing here about the build-up to the big day, not filling the place with links and throwaway gags. But life is racing ahead too quickly on every front. The teaching that’s kept me busy every January and February for the past few years has come round again, and I’m teaching on another course now as well. And in every other hour that I could have been composing earnest essays about impending parenthood, I’ve been busy. Except, maybe, for this one.