I have come to the conclusion that somewhere along the way I either actually had triplets, or that Charlie has three completely distinct personalities.
I was looking at him through the gloom at 12:30am last night while stuffing his face with a boob and hoping it would get him through the night (it did) and I saw such a serious little face. Granted, he was completely asleep but the expression of quiet expertise on his face and his controlled movements showed that here was a baby in the know, a baby with a serious job to get on with and one which he knew he could do well. Breastfeeding is the one skill Charlie has mastered above all others. Ignoring bodily functions, he's still learning most things but eating, now that's something he can do - and it shows. No wasted movements when he's hungry, no mucking about. Straight in he goes and he gets to work massaging and manipulating things to get exactly what he needs - and the expression on his face is so adult. The same serious concentration can be seen on the face of any expert at their job whether it's pouring cement or mending watches, the face says 'I know this. Welcome to my comfort zone.' C looks so mature and capable when he eats that it's impossible to reconcile this baby with the others that seem to inhabit his body, he seems almost adult.
Next, there's the demanding, shouting baby. Panic-stricken at having rolled over and being unable to roll back, this baby is all about need. He's not in control of anything but he desperately wants to be and he's fighting all the way. He doesn't want hugs, he doesn't want cuddles, he doesn't want clothing or toys, he doesn't really know what he wants specifically, he just wants to be in control. Another serious little face, this baby can spend ages reaching and fiddling and grabbing and chewing and drooling and is only satisfied when he's done something for himself that he was trying to do and if he can't, he relapses into hysterics and shouting and often ends up sobbing himself to sleep on my shoulder after a particularly heavy-duty bout with his bunny on the playmat. He is perhaps the most babyish of all of Charlie's personalities, the one that mostly makes me see how very little he really is, how very small and vulnerable.
Finally, there's the clown. This Charlie is more like a little boy than a baby. He's responsive, happy almost anywhere and can see the funny side in anything. He smiles a lot and when there's nothing to smile at he looks at a parent hopefully and waits for them to do something funny. He'll play with nearly anything, will wrap his arms around a parental neck for hugs and has even taken to diving open-mouthed onto a parental cheek for a second in what can only be the mirror of a kiss. He's a charmer and a flirt this baby. He'll smile at anyone and if there's another child in the vicinity will try to hold hands. He's no more dextrous than the grumpy baby but he seems older and more aware - and funnier.
There are a few other babies in there. There's one who gets the horrors at night and sometimes in the day and who cannot be consoled in any way and just has to be cuddled until he has cried and drooled himself out into a parental shoulder. There's also the struggler who is vaguely related to the grumpy baby but who is more dextrous and can wriggle away from a wash-cloth, a dropper full of Calpol or a pair of nail-clippers with superhuman strength.
Everyone has multiple sides to them and I wonder was each of these will develop into - which one will be his dominant personality, how they will all grow - and which one is going to be the most trouble in the end. Mr. Grumpy after all may turn into a boy who spends hours bent over a computer taking it apart and making it run faster while Mr. Happy may turn into an irresponsible prankster who steals the car keys to drive his equally underage date to the pub and Mr. Expert may turn out to be a banker with nothing to say for himself.
I guess it's all part of the fun we signed up for on this very, very long ride.