Tuesday, 1 July 2014


I stand poised on the bridge, stick in hand. Felix stands next to me, a burble of excitement on his lips, his twig held out like a samurai sword. 'One, two, three...GO!'. We throw our sticks into the rushing river and jostle to the other side of the bridge, eyes seeking them in the fast flowing water. 

This may as yet be a dream, but the time for pooh sticks is coming soon and I can't wait. With every passing day Felix is developing, growing, becoming stronger, more agile and more able. Last week he pulled himself up to standing for the first time, now every piece of furniture is a prop in his mission. He cruises round the edge of the cot with devilish insouciance, sturdy legs ever more certain beneath him. His perambulations have rendered much of our flat a death-trap, and I spend a lot of time foiling his attempts to smash his head on the sharp corner of a coffee table or drink from the cats bowl. Things are not helped by the fact that we are still living in our one bed flat, our myriad possessions swelled by the preposterous amount of gear and toys that babies seem to require. Every surface, shelf and corner is crammed with stuff, piles of which I move around in an ultimately futile attempt to make more space. Every day is an exercise in making each room multifunctional.

Nevertheless, I am revelling in Felix's increasing mobility, and await the time for climbing trees and kicking balls with eagerness. Having Felix has made me realise just how much the child within me still thrives, and as he grows up and into childhood it is as if I can grow down and become a child again with him. I have found the bottle marked 'Drink Me' and shrunk so I can enter through the tiny door and back into the magical secret garden of childhood. The joy of motherhood is that simultaneously you have to become a real adult; forsaking selfish and stupid behaviour and keeping constantly vigilant and caring for your infant, and yet it also gives you a ticket to innocence. Already it has begun; playing hide-and-seek with Mr Squirrel, Felix's favourite soft toy, creating 'lamp mummy' to amuse him during mealtimes, creeping under lowhanging trees to undertake our 'jungle mission'. Every flower and leaf is a sensory delight; his tiny fingers reach out to feel their textures, button nose wrinking in surprise when I hold him closer to inhale the scent of a rose. Bark is particularly fascinating, its roughness both shocking and exciting, while rain seen through the eyes of a child is an exercise in wonder; the leaden downpour transformed into a thing of beauty and magic.  

Felix has now been out in the world for nine months, the same length of time he resided in the dark waters of my womb. From being a tiny collection of cells, multiplying and mutating and clinging to life, comes a fully formed and unique person. A baby who will become a boy who will become a man. A man who may pilot a spaceship to galaxies unknown, whose chance of living to 100 is more than one in three, who may unravel the mystery of consciousness. Having a child is like throwing a stick in the river of time, and watching them dance along the silver stream of life is the sweetest pleasure of all. 

“By the time it came to the edge of the Forest, the stream had grown up, so that it was almost a river, and, being grown-up, it did not run and jump and sparkle along as it used to do when it was younger, but moved more slowly. For it knew now where it was going, and it said to itself, “There is no hurry. We shall get there some day.”  A. A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner.

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