I have realised a truth about babies. They’re not just our precious little bundles of joy, neither are they merely our hopes for the future nor our own special loves. They are, in fact, our prisoners. Never mind that they are prisoners in their own bodies, that's not how they see it.
Tied into their seats where-ever they go so they cannot run away, unable to move, eat or clean themselves up without permission and assistance, they lie on their backs behind the bars of their cots, staring into space, plotting their escapes.
Charlie has even developed a prisoner mentality about his food. He buries himself in the boob and then throws one arm around his face, presumably so that nobody can steal the nipple while he’s on it. He grabs, punches, gulps, belches, farts and waves his little fists around threateningly Just In Case, you understand, just in case anyone else may think of muscling in on his dinner.
Sometimes, he sits patiently staring around him. I see him eyeing the doorways and calculating distance ratios comparative to his own ability to run/walk/crawl/roll/wiggle his way there and then see the dawning realisation that it will be many moons before the doorway is his to use. Then, I see the tears of rage and it is quickly time to put him in lock-down on a boob to distract him.
There’s more to this than just simple fancy. I see it in action all the time. Some very good and long-time friends of mine were here the other day with their children and it’s very clear that as the human brain ages, visions of escape don’t go away, they just get grander and more subtle. While a one-year-old girl may see escape as any door out of any room, a five-year-old boy sees it as the chance to get in a car and go home from somewhere tedious. A 12 year old girl may not give away any clues but in her mind there is a world out there just waiting, while at 13, a boy is probably tossing up between escaping to a Playstation or just being old enough to stay out as long as he pleases. To their mothers, escape is possibly a baby-sitter or a day at the spa - or perhaps a map for the drive home with instructions, a guide car, sherpas and a couple of strong cups of tea.
As we age we never really lose this prisoner mentality. Freedom may be a new pair of shoes, a new apartment, a new job, two weeks in the sun or a whole, entire, uninterrupted night's sleep (or perhaps that's just me?), In fact, escape could always be having a baby and repeating the whole circle. There’s always somewhere better, freer and bigger and perhaps maturity is just realising that at some point, one has to stop finding greener pastures and start appreciating the grass one is eating already.
Or, in Charlie’s case, the boob.