Today I bathed my daughter for the first time. Up until now we’ve been top-and-tailing her, which is the infant equivalent of a sponge bath, but today we had a visit from the midwife, and we were waiting for that. I knew I’d forget what was in our ante-natal classes, and it is always better to learn things in situ, rather than with a rubber baby in a well-lit room. It was also amusing to have a no-nonsense nurse from Scotland visit and say various insulting things to us (I was particularly amused when she told us we looked so much younger in our wedding photos – ok, that was two years ago, but the flesh has hardly sloughed from our faces in the interim). I wasn’t sure if she realized all the uncomplimentary things she was saying, and I don’t mind, but it would be great fun to visit baffled and bamboozled parents and say rude things about them. Then again, parents who can’t figure out on their own how to bathe their kids may need a bit of insulting, honestly.
It’s simple, although apparently most parents bath their baby in water that’s too cold; the bath needs to be at blood temperature, 37 degrees. Like any new parent I was scared about breaking the baby, but there’s a simple and effective way to hold your baby securely, and in fact Felicity was very happy to get into the water, rather than deteriorating into a squalling mess. Taking her out proved a little distressing for her, but she soon settled down again.
It’s good to have a way to bond with my child. I’m at work all day and though it’s something of a burden for my wife to have a child hanging off her breast half the day, naturally she gets more time to bond. "Bond" means "burp, feed and pacify" so it’s not as if her time off work is a permanent vacation, but it means we need to make more effort for me to spend time with the little one than if I was at home all day.
Then again, though I love my child, she isn’t much of a conversationalist at the moment. She can make up for gaps in vocabulary with sheer volume, but that’s hardly the mark of a charming raconteur. We have a few years to work on that, of course.
This morning, long before bathtime, we took her to the Canadian consulate to apply for her passport. That was a pleasant and efficient process, and in less than fifteen minutes we were downstairs at Starbucks. She disliked the consulate – we think because it was too quiet – but once in the noise and hustle and bustle of downstairs, she went happily back to sleep. This is a good thing. If you had a baby in Chinatown who wasn’t noiseproof, you’d be very unhappy parents very quickly.
The Canadians are super efficient: within two hours they’d contacted our guarantor, checking on how long he’d known us, and how tall my wife was. "Shorter than me" he answered, which is what happens when you ask a lawyer a simple question – you get the minimum sufficient data back as an answer. I’m not sure how that went down with the Canadian officials; it’s like the time I was asked by a Canadian Immigration officer if I was visiting "friends or family", and I discovered that "Yes" wasn’t an appropriate answer. (You could always point out that an affirmative is a sufficient answer to a disjunctive question, but then you could always think about getting straight on the plane home again, smartypants.)
I wonder if they asked him other questions, or if date and weight are enough, but since we haven’t been raided by a platoon of Mounties, accusing us of a false economy with the truth on our application, I have to assume everything is in order. Which is nice. Paperwork, even for a techno-apparatchik like myself, can be a great source of stress. Plus the potential threat of being sent to prison if we don’t sort out travel documents for her, although as a Canadian passport only takes two weeks to process, the likelihood of me ending up as the Daddy of a wing in Changi Prison is becoming vanishingly small.