As the summer holidays come to an abrupt end – complete with a discernible and unwelcome autumnal chill in the air – I’ve been hit by the sudden realisation that something that seemed absolutely ages away is actually not far away at all. No, not Christmas. We shall not use that word again until at least November which, coincidentally, is when said thing is due to happen. I’m referring, of course, to the impending arrival of child number three.
We’re now into the third and final trimester of the pregnancy and, ridiculous as it may sound, neither Kate nor I have fully got our heads round the fact that we’re soon going to be outnumbered by little people who look like us.
Having been there, seen it, done it and had the proverbial T-shirt puked on by babies twice before, I think we’re entitled to a certain degree of nonchalance. Dylan and Xander are so excited about having a new baby in the family that we don’t need to worry about getting them onside and we know what we’re doing too. Or do we?
You see, unless the little one we’re due to welcome has an incredibly good party trick, we’re expecting a girl and, thinking about it now, neither of us knows what to do with them! Apart from the obvious difference in the nappy department, I understand from people who’ve got kids of both genders that they’re really quite different in terms of their demeanour – even from an early age.
Most parents I’ve spoken to have told me that their daughters have been much harder work than their sons. I really hope that this isn’t true of ours as Xander has been something of a challenge from day one and is in no hurry to change his iron-willed ways – we don’t need two stubborn kids! He STILL doesn’t sleep through the night which, as well as being exhausting, is infuriating. On the flip side, we’re so used to sleep deprivation now that maybe we won’t notice much of a difference come November.
So are little girls sugar and spice and all things nice? Frankly, I’m starting to worry about whether she’ll be an evil genius like my little sister was. Despite being two years younger, she was always outwitting me. For example I had glue ear when I was four and sounded like the the Clangers’ friend Soup Dragon when I spoke. She took it upon herself to be my translator and, as an audio recording of Christmas 1983 proves, she regularly put words in my mouth. Despite her protestations to the contrary, I did not believe that my parents had a new radiator and would never have referred to our primitive central heating system as ‘loverly’.
It wasn’t just me who was a victim either. She knowingly fooled our Grandad into believing she could read at the age of 18 months and, before this, drove a close family friend to the edge of his own sanity by deliberately getting words wrong when he was trying to teach her to say ‘spoon’ and ‘fork’.
It’s little surprise that she has grown up to be a psychology lecturer. To give her a right of reply – and as she has one of each – I asked her whether there’s a significant difference between baby boys and girls. She believes it all depends on the individual, but also thinks that girls are more ’emotionally clever’ at an earlier stage and therefore able to manipulate their parents sooner.
I’ve got no chance…