Ugly baby on-board
The baby beats the nurse,
And quite athwart
Goes all decorum.
— Shakespeare, Measure for Measure
What a thing when the baby turns around and beats the very nurse that’s taking care of it. Oh yes, some babies come out of the womb not only kicking, screaming and crying, but punching and slapping as well. Imagine, the nurse slapped the baby on his behind to make him cry, as is the custom, but he slapped her right back. “Me nah tek yu lick.”
That’s a badass baby. Even so, almost everyone wants to have a baby. I say almost, because there are some people who definitely do not want to have children, for various reasons. For those who want, having a baby can bring so much joy, but little do they imagine that there are many challenges, including lots of misery, anxiety, anger, pain and frustration.
But still they forge ahead to have a baby, so that they can proudly display that sign on their car windshields that says, ‘Baby on-board’. If they have a car that is. That declaration isn’t meant to merely let people know that they’re to be especially careful because there’s a baby in the car, but more to say, “See, I have a baby, I made a baby.” The truth is, people should drive carefully whether there’s a baby on-board or not.
What they won’t display is a sign saying ‘Ugly Baby on-Board,’ for in many cases that’s the true reality. That’s where we’ll be driving today, right after we see what these folks said about ‘Life after COVID-19’.
The world changed after the 9/11 bombing in New York, creating a new normal in the way we travel, especially by air. We were forbidden from taking certain items on- board and screening was ramped up where we had to join a line to get through security with shoes, belts, jackets all removed. Yes, there will be a new normal after COVID-19, but I wonder how normal it will be for staff to see masked people entering banks? If one of those persons holds up the bank and the police asked, “Who was that masked man?” the answer could only be, “the lone stranger”.
Life after COVID-19 will never be the same, especially when it comes to socialising in large groups. It will be a long time before I’ll feel comfortable at sports events being immersed in a sea of sweaty people, knowing that every breath that they exhale I will be inhaling it. I love going to nightclubs, but the thought of being locked in a dark room with hundreds of patrons breathing the same air is unnerving to me. I hope the proper protocols will be observed. Call me paranoid.
A new baby in a person’s or family’s life can bring so much joy. The birth is looked forward to with eager anticipation and the parents can’t wait for the arrival of that little bundle of joy. Usually, of course, it’s the mother who gets all the props, with well-wishers stroking her swollen tummy and saying, “Congratulations, mommy”. There’s even a baby shower for her to celebrate the pregnancy.
It’s as if it was her efforts alone that resulted in the pregnancy. How come no one strokes the man’s crotch and says, “Congrats daddy, job well done.” But that’s the way it is, continuing into Mother’s Day which is celebrated with great fanfare, even as Father’s Day passes with scarcely a whimper, soon to fade into obscurity.
Anyway, after the birth — which is mostly by C-section nowadays as opposed to natural birth, all depending on how much money you have — it’s time for the pictures. Ah, those phone pictures, those countless photographs that parents parade around, displaying to all and sundry, intended to immortalise those precious moments of the newborn.
Now, here’s where I have a problem, for even though they say that all men were created equal, in the case of looks, it’s not true. It seems as if some parents are ‘ugly blind’ when it comes to their babies. Yes, they are incapable of seeing ugly in their infants, and persist and insist on inflicting this ugly on unsuspecting people.
Let’s face it, every peel-neck country fowl thinks that her chicks look like peacock. But keep that to yourself. Why foist those photographs of ugly infants on other people? Don’t get me wrong, I love babies, but all babies are not cute. In fact, some are downright ugly. This reminds of a joke that my late dad told me years ago.
This drunk saw a woman holding the ugliest baby he had seen in his life, so as drunks are wont to do, he spoke his mind, saying: “Lady, that’s the ugliest baby I have ever seen.”
The woman, obviously upset, snapped back: “Get away, you’re nothing but a worthless drunk.”
To which he replied: “Yes, I’m drunk now, but in the morning I’ll be sober and that baby will still be ugly.”
Mercifully many babies outgrow their ugliness and become quite attractive people, even as conversely, some beautiful babies grow up to be ugly as sin. But I beg of you, during that ugly period, whether it be transitory or not, please do not show off pictures of your little gargoyles to people.
Unlike the drunkard, most people will not tell you that the baby is ugly, but will merely smile and say, “Oh, how he resembles his father.” As for that aspect of resembling parents, nature can be merciful or it can be unkind, for in some people’s cases, that ugliness is passed down from generation to generation.
“How come him mout suh long and him head suh big?”
“Him come from a long line of long mout big head people.”
When the piglet asked his mother, “Momma, how come yu mout suh long?” Her response was, “Ah me son, as yu grow you will know in time.” What is cruel though, is when both parents are good-looking, and the baby comes out looking like a troll. People will whisper, “He could never be the father, is must some ugly man breed har.”
Over the years, I have had the misfortune of having phone pictures of ugly babies foisted on me, shoved in my face, flashed before my eyes. Even though I’m a very cool person, I must admit that on more than one occasion I stood there transfixed, unable to process the photographs. My mind flashed back to Grimm’s Fairy Tales from my childhood, of goblins, and trolls, of hobbits and gremlins.
What’s even more astonishing is the way that the parents are proud of the photographs, and also, at the amount of photographs that they have. Not one or two, but dozens and dozens of phone pictures of Baby Ugly, each one more hideous than the next. But remember, ugly blind is real, and every peel-neck country fowl thinks that her chicks are peacocks.
But not every ugly duckling grows up to be a beautiful swan. Some remain ugly forever. “Don’t worry my dear, she will change and grow out the ugliness.” No she won’t. Anyway, ugly or not, babies are loved and cherished by their parents, even though people may say, “He has a face only a mother could love.” I’m sure you’ve heard the term.
That birth of a baby can be a life changer for people in many ways. I mentioned the misery of getting up in the middle of the night when it’s feeding time, the anxiety of illness, the constant huge demands by something so small, the diaper changes, the perpetual bawling of the mewling infant, and the sleepless nights.
That’s the challenge that many single mothers face, and if there’s a daddy in the picture, that’s great, but even that can cause problems when it’s time to share the duties.
“It’s your turn to change him.”
“Leave me alone, I want to sleep.”
Having babies — ugly or pretty — is a young person’s domain, as an older individual simply does not have the energy or stamina to keep up. Despite this, I have friends who are up in their 60s who have new babies with their young partners. I pity them as I watch them struggle to keep up, dropping off, picking up, buying baby food, sleepless nights, constant crosses, as they do things at 65 what a man of 30 should be doing.
What’s even worse is when the mother loses her patience and says to the child, “You bad and ugly just like yu fadah.” So when you see the sign, ‘Baby on-Board’, take it with a grain of salt, for it very well may be a cry for help. It really should say, ‘Ugly Baby on-Board.’
Footnote: I don’t think that I have ever been so upset, as I am now, in years. After seeing that white policeman dig his knee into that black man’s neck for almost nine minutes until he died, I cried. That big, strong man pleaded for his life, finally calling out for his mother, as he took his last breath. If he was shot by the cop I would feel badly, but not as much as how I felt as I watched him dying in the gutter like a slave from a time long gone, crushed by his oppressor. That image will stick in the minds of thousands forever. It has invoked worldwide outrage and condemnation. Will this injustice ever end? On a brighter note, I must commend CIBC First Caribbean International Bank for their professionalism and patience in resolving an issue that I had. The speed and efficiency with which they dealt with it was astonishing. Mr Nigel Holness and Mr Sheldon Campbell, thank you.
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