Thursday, 26 February 2009
Only one garment left to iron - and it can stay there for a while
This is a ramble through lots of loosely connected thoughts. That is what comes of having a hoppity mind. Like a grasshopper, actually - it leaps about in random and unexpected directions.
Dr P has just finished his tax return. He got an extension of time due to his age and decrepitude. We are both very relieved. It is bad enough worrying about my own tax return, but Dr P's is complicated, and there is no way I could do it. He really needs to get a tax agent. I was able to download the appropriate form for him. Brownie points for me!
I have finished the ironing except for one pair of pants. These have slits up the back of the legs and thus are rather drafty. Plus a drop of bleach took some colour out on the thigh, so they are not the sort of thing I can wear out. They can stay in the ironing basket.
The cleaners came today, and I have finally had enough of them. They don't do all the things they are supposed to do, and when I noted that they had not vacuumed under the rugs upstairs, they did one, but not both! I did say 'rugs' plural. They skimp on things, and I have had enough of trying to ensure they do what was agreed to. So we will part company, and now I have to find other cleaners. Yes, I know, I lead a hard life.
We have been watching this weird British programme about rival methods of baby rearing. One is a rigid and obsessed devotee of the Truby King method, or rigid routines, feeding the baby every four hours, holding it at a distance rather than cuddling it in your arms. Cuddling is generally limited to ten minutes a day. Otherwise the baby will be the boss of the mother! Babies are put in their prams and spend the day outside, as fresh air is good for them, and tires them out so that they sleep at night!
The next method is that recommended by Dr Spock. This is much more relaxed and easy going and less doctrinaire.
The last method, in its way as rigid as that of the fearsome Truby King female, follows the practices of primitive Amazon tribes. The baby is carried all the time, in a sling and can be passed around and cuddled by anyone and everyone. It is fed on demand and sleeps with the parents.
It comes across as turf wars. What surprises me is how insecure and ready to be dominated some parents are. I wonder whether the series will conclude that all babies probably settle down much the same, whatever the 'method', as they mature?
My mother evidently started off using the Truby King method, which must have been in vogue during the WW2 years. I came across her booklet in a cupboard when I would have been about 13 or 14, and read it with some fascination. Babies were fed four hourly, on the dot. Etcetera. My mother had seven children, and got much more relaxed as time went on. By the time I read this book there were six children. We talked about it all. My mother described how, with her first baby, she would sit anxiously watching the clock while the unfortunate baby screamed its poor little head off, until the hour struck, and then the baby could get fed. I am not sure how 'difficult' any of us were, but certainly remember that when the babies were put to bed they did sleep pretty well. But what the first weeks were like I have no idea. Probably they followed the usual pattern of sleepless and disturbed nights while everyone got to know each other and learned what to do. But I remember the babies being put outside in their prams to sleep.
Being the second eldest child, I learned a lot of practical baby care from my mother - and most people we knew had large families, so you just got on with it all - and so when my precious first baby was born, I felt fairly confident, and expected her to go to sleep after a feed. The first night home, when I put her to bed, she bleated a bit, but I told her father she would go to sleep soon. Which she did. 'How did you know?' he asked, bemusedly. She was a very easy baby. And totally gorgeous, of course. Naturally we gave ourselves the credit for being excellent parents. Our second was not so easy, for a variety of reasons, but we stopped being smug. I had a copy of Dr Spock, which was very helpful, but it was just a guide. Good for checking stages of development, illnesses, tantrums, etcetera.
Yesterday I had lunch with a few friends. One told me her 30-something year old daughter has been off work for several months because she caught whooping cough, and has been fearfully and horrifically ill. It seems vaccinations don't protect you all throughout your adult life.
In between all these things I had another computer lesson, a couple of Italian classes, and have lots of books I am dipping into. One, a history of art by Paul Johnson, discussed bridges as art forms as well as examples of high precision and practical engineering, and this led me to look up some of the bridges he mentioned on the internet. There are some fabulous bridges. The work of Santiago Calatrava is just fantastic. I dropped into Abbeys after the Italian class to see what books they have on bridges, and they found a very good book. I haven't bought it. Yet. But I might.