I usually walk through the door at about 6:15pm, and take a tired, miserable, drooling baby out of Karen’s arms. I bounce him for a few minutes, which usually is enough to give everyone in the house a little smile for a while. Then, at 6:30pm, it is time for Bernard’s bath.
I take him upstairs and deposit him in his cot while I start the bath filling. He amuses himself with a ladybird or flower while I do this. Then I return to his room, and transfer him to the changing table to undress him. He’s quite ticklish, so this usually degenerates into giggles.
At this point, Karen usually takes over so that I can return to tending the bath. When the temperature is just right, I return to collect him and plonk him into the bath. For a few seconds, he winces at the heat, but he agrees that it is nice once he’s in.
A yellow duck bobs around in the water by his feet, and two small penguins with rubber rings sail by. I apply a sponge to the baby. Within 20 seconds, he will have noticed something behind him (usually the overflow for the bath) and will arch backwards to look at it. This allows me to clean his neck, but once this particular task is performed, his archedness serves as more of a hindrance than a help.
Soon, he is clean all over, and a now be-pyjama’d Karen returns to catch him in a towel and take him back through into his bedroom, where we place him on his front on a towel on the floor. His neck gets dried at this point, and for a few minutes we will sit there encouraging him to roll over.
When he starts showing signs that his interest is waning, I put him back on the changing table and dress him for bed. I find that maintaining eye contact while I put on his nappy and vest keeps him sweet.
I then transfer him back to the cot, where Karen will already have laid out the baby-gro and his pyjamas. I pull the cord on the yellow star, which emits Brahms’ Lullaby. This, I have found through trial and error, is sufficient to keep his mood chipper while I finish dressing him. The day that I made this discovery was a good one, let me tell you.
I then take him through to our bedroom, where Karen is awaiting him. I lie him down on the pillow on her knee, and she feeds him. I offer Karen a drink, and then my work is done.