Last weekend, Mr Lighty and I took Baby Lighty on a family day out to the National Trust properties Chartwell and Quebec House. We had a really lovely day, just the three of us, but it wasn’t without the odd mishap, as is the case with most things associated with new parenthood.
To start with, we’d timed our arrival with Baby Lighty’s lunchtime feed. This should be a fairly straightforward procedure, now that Baby Lighty is 12 weeks old and has started to fall into his own little routine, except for one aspect: reflux milk. The special reflux formula that Baby Lighty is on needs to stand for 7 minutes (very precise!) after being mixed in order for it to thicken up, so there is always an element of pre-empting when he will need his next feed. Either that, or we have a screaming Baby Lighty situation!
So our day at Chartwell started off with a trip to the café so that we could all have lunch, Mr Lighty spilling our milk for our cuppas all over the table, us not mixing Baby Lighty’s milk quickly enough, him then proceeding to scream the tea room down, us wishing the 7 minutes away as quickly as possible, and probably giving his bottle to him a little too quickly and with only a very brief discussion and decision as to whether the milk was still too hot to drink. Very bad parents!
All of this did get me thinking about whether people’s tolerance levels of babies is higher than that of older children, however. We are very lucky that Baby Lighty is generally a very placid, happy baby, and on the whole we try to respond as quickly as possible to his cues when we know that he isn’t happy. Sometimes this has meant removing ourselves from situations entirely, both to calm Baby Lighty and to spare everyone else around us from his crying. However, this wasn’t really a possibility at the weekend as we’d just ordered our own lunch, and we were very aware of all the other poor souls in the café trying to have a peaceful lunch themselves whilst our child told everyone rather loudly that he very much wanted his own lunch, thank you!
This is why I think I’m so surprised by just how tolerant everyone seems to be of young babies. Yes you do get the odd irritated look – especially on public transport – and even a comment from time to time, but most people just give you a sympathetically knowing look. Perhaps they too were parents to young, screaming, hungry children once, or perhaps it’s just tolerance of a new, cute baby.
Either way, I’m always eternally grateful for these kind glances and shy smiles. It does help that Baby Lighty is such a lovely, smiley baby (even if I am biased!), but every time I smile and apologise as yet again we’re taking up more space than we should with the buggy, or getting in someone’s way, or making too much noise, and the person I’m talking to responds with their own smile and a “it’s not a problem!”, it really does lift my spirits as a new mum.
Babies will be babies, and they will make noise, so next time you see someone knock over their own milk in a cafe, try to quiet their crying baby, whilst trying to be the best parent they can be and getting themselves into a frazzle in the process, please remember that for both you and the new parent, there really is no point in crying over spilt formula milk. Let’s all offer that shy smile and some kind words instead.