I am a new parent and I am terrified. My biggest fear isnt the thought of my child growing up and running off to Disneyland; or even worse, Michael Jacksons Neverland.
No, the major concern is partiality. New parents see no wrong in their children. We are biased. We see our child and we see a beauty that brings nothing but a smile to our faces. The trouble is, other people may see our child and bring up their breakfast.
Weve all attended family gatherings where someone has piped up and said: “Have you met John and Susans boy? … No? … Oh, you must see him. He really is the cutest baby.” And then little Igor is dragged out from a darkened dungeon. “Oh, he looks like a little film star, doesnt he?” One of Igors parents cries. Yes, Seabiscuit, you think to yourself.
Just as you prepare to make your apologies to leave before little Igor starts howling at the moon, one of its parents always insists that body contact is made first. “Here, you must hold little Igor,” they cry, removing Igors manacles.
“He should be fine with you. Although he did bite Janets girl, Tracy, but she shouldve remembered that Igor really doesnt like nursery rhymes.”
So you take Igor, cover his horns with a blanket, pose for a family snap and pray that no one starts singing Humpty Dumpty. The blinkered subjectivity is startling. How can these parents be so biased? Surely they can see their babys a werewolf in K-Marts clothing?
That would never happen to me, I said. If my baby pops out looking like my wife had an affair with one of the Addams Family, I will not pretend otherwise. No parent should be so fickle, so superficial.
Naturally, I took one look at my baby daughter, felt my heart explode and declared this tiny person to be the most beautiful creation I had ever seen. Clearly, objectivity is a rare skill in parenthood.
But I wasnt entirely brainwashed. During the final stages of labour at St John of God Geelong, I declared that my baby resembled a plate of tripe. On the orders of my wife, I peered cautiously between her legs to provide her with a detailed description and was confronted by a primeval image.
It was a plate of tripe. According to the doctor, it was a tiny human head covered in matted, blond hair. Whatever you say, doc. It looks like a plate of tripe to me.
“What does our baby look like?” My wife bellowed.
“When I was a kid, I used to collect tripe for our dog and it was all soft and squishy, grey and purple,” I said brightly. “Well, it looks like that. Our babys head looks like a little plate of tripe.” “What the hell is wrong with you?” My wife barked.
I was talking gibberish. I realise that now. I was intoxicated, floating; soaring on a natural high. My first baby was on its way, it looked like a plate of tripe, but it was on its way nonetheless. “Neil, snap out of it,” my wife ordered. “Our baby is coming now.”
An hour later, our baby daughter was asleep in my arms. She no longer looked like a plate of tripe. With her tiny, wrinkled face, she was a cross between a shrivelled prune and a pug dog. But she was the most adorable shrivelled prune-pug dog Id ever seen.
Thats it then. Im going to be like all those other parents who pass around 756 baby snaps until their guests lose the will to live. Lunatics who insist they have produced the cutest child in the history of the universe and anyone who disagrees gets bludgeoned to death with a box of nappies.
But their newborn cannot be the cutest in the universe because mine is. And Ive got the 756 baby snaps to prove it.