Week 16 — Can A Baby Chew Me To Death?


We have a situation. We have a very problematic situation that has flipped our baby world upside-down. How could we have been so blind to such a development? How could we have been so foolish…
 My son’s teething.
 Wow, this is completely not what I expected. I don’t think he’s full-blown yet but he’s definitely a different sort of baby now. He’s an extremely happy little chappy and you can have all the fun in the world with him as he smiles and giggles away at silly things you do (like talking quietly or simply looking at an inanimate object), but then his gums remind him that there’s a painful kraken of a dentate nature lurking beneath and he will suddenly just explode in your face and cry. When it first started happening I thought I’d done something wrong, like bang his head on a doorframe or poke his nose too hard (both of these have occurred), but it was in fact his own head attacking itself due to age and biology. He’ll have random episodes of inconsolable screaming and his chubby squirrel cheeks will go bright crimson, plus he’s gnawing like crazy on literally everything that passes under his nose, and so the only logical conclusions we can make is that either he now hates us — that’s doubtful, he’s too young for that sort of juvenile loathing yet; that’ll come in a few years when we dock his pocket money or tell him he can’t go out with that slag Britney — or that he’s teething.
 And so it has begun.
 The first time he erupted in burbling screamy baby fun-time we were completely flustered. He couldn’t settle at all, couldn’t seem to get a grip on reality other than the obvious agony his tiny little gums were undergoing. What a noise! We took it in turns to sort of dance round the living room with music and/or tv on until, in the end, I found the solution: daddy’s little finger. Nothing else would work, and certainly no other finger would do. It had to be the little finger on my right hand, which of course I sterilised first (I’m not a monster). As soon as he got that pinky finger between his gums he was suddenly Rambo baby, biting and attacking that goddamn thing with every ounce of munchkin strength he could muster. Seriously, he’s got some proper power in that tiny jaw of his! If he’d have had actual teeth he would have done some incredible damage to little old me! As it was, his little hands instead beat my arm and grabbed at me as he groaned and growled with his loud and strange way and he tried to gain better purchase, sliding up and down my arm with more and more dribble escaping him. Finally, we found the position that worked for him. The fabled pose was where he lay face-down across my arms as one of my hands held his bottom half and the other hung from his mouth like a dog’s soggy chew toy. He was so happy and chompy, and he eventually fell asleep like that. I tried to take my finger away as he snoozed but he immediately started to stir and I had to re-insert the midget digit back in there.
 It’s the way he attacks me as he bites away, as if he’s thinking desperate thoughts.
 ’Chew! Chew! For the love of god, chew! Mouth on fire, need nummy nummy! Kill daddy’s finger! FUCKING CHEW!’
 That’s what I think he’s thinking, anyway.
 Oh the chuckling’s turning into true laughter now. It’s an absolutely beautiful time to behold, aside from the outburst of screaming hab-dabs when he remembers he’s teething. He lies on his back, kicking for Britain again, and smiling and gurgling at whatever we’re doing (most likely picking our nails or something delightfully interesting like that) and he’ll suddenly start a series of chuckles that are linked together. It’s laughter! And it’s lovely, it really is. I thought I was the first one of his parents to witness this act, but it turned out that my wife had seen it a few days beforehand. That’s what it means to be a working dad, you end up missing the first time he does new things. It can be really disappointing, not to mention a little heartbreaking, to miss out on these tiny yet somehow concurrently important events; it must be so much worse for those people that have to work away from home and come back to find their kid just that bit bigger and smarter. I’m one of the luckier ones.
 However, at least for the time being I can enjoy watching the baby attempting to laugh then going back to gurgling incoherently and looking confused with his hands clasped before him, in a gesture of bewilderment.
 The more my son struggles to sit up the more he looks like he’s straining to do a super monster shit. Just saying.
 Also, I’ve found that if he’s really tired I can put him on his side in the recovery position and he’ll drop off a proper treat, safe and sound. Might as well get prepared for the weekends during his teenage years. This is Devon, after all, land of the cheap strong cider.
 I guess that’s it for another instalment in the weekly updates of my son’s ever-developing life. He’s a joy to be around and to have as our son, though his inherent cuteness makes walking through town in a place renowned for its population of old people a right bugger. We have to stop every fifteen seconds. At least we can be happy that he’s now way over a stone in weight and already literally bursting out of his 3–6 month clothes. My wife is feeling weird, like her son’s growing up too fast and the little baby we once knew exploding his way into life has all but gone. I, on the other hand, pick him up every day and laugh hysterically as he farts and his thigh buttons pop open.
 Somebody’s going to be an elephant of a toddler with astonishing grip. Our poor dog.