It started innocently enough. We were out and the Popple was hungry, so I reached into the changing bag, pulled out a packet of rice cakes and handed her one. Then I thought, “Hey, I’m kind of hungry too.” So I popped one in my mouth. It was pretty good, actually.
From then on, I regularly stole the Popple’s snacks when she wasn’t looking. I didn’t really care for the sweetcorn rings (a bit bland), but I liked the cheese and herb puffs (sort of like unsalted cheez doodles). The best were the vanilla baby biscuits, which reminded me of the animal crackers I used to eat as a child. They didn’t actually look like any animal that you would recognise (seriously, what the f*** is this supposed to be?), but it was still fun to bite off their heads.
From food, I quickly moved onto stealing other things. Like baby moisturizing cream, for instance. I have a fancy hand cream from Lush, but it’s tucked away in the depths of my handbag, whereas the baby’s cream is right on the changing table, where I spend a lot of time wiping butts anyway. A bit for the baby, a bit for me.
Speaking of butts, I also started using her wet wipes for all sorts of things – removing mascara from underneath my eyes, wiping off tiny peanut butter fingerprints from my jeans, cleaning a kitchen table that’s messy but not really dirty. It amazes me that there was a time when I didn’t have at least three open packets of wet wipes on the go at all times.
I’ve even stolen her taste in music. I often catch myself, even in my baby-free moments, singing, “Welcome to our learning farm, we have lots to show you. Shapes and colours, music too, there’s so much to do-oooo!” You know the song. Everyone parent I know has the same Vtech baby walker with the squeaky peek-a-boo door and the phone that we all lost within five minutes of taking the thing out of the box.
I wish I could say that I hate this song, but it’s actually pretty catchy. In fact, so are lots of children’s songs. There’s a reason that we’ve been singing songs like “Pop Goes the Weasel” (apparently a Cockney song about pawning a coat) and “Yankee Doodle” (which British soldiers sang to make fun of Americans in the pre-Revolutionary War era) for hundreds of years. They’re simple little earworms that bury their way in during childhood and remain there, patiently waiting until we have children of our own.
Then one day, it happens.
You’re looking down at your baby and the words, “All around the mulberry bush, the monkey chased the weasel,” come out of your mouth. You think, “Wait…what the hell was that? Why would a monkey chase a weasel? Why am I singing this to my child?” But there’s no taking it back. You’ll be singing this song, and others like it, to your kid for the next 10 years or so. And they’re kind of great.