Thursday, 27 May 2010

The Invisible Baby By Kate

I've mentioned before that one of the really endearing things about Spain and the people who live here is how ready they are to lavish admiration on children. Babies especially get a lot of attention and Rosie, with her intensely blue eyes and tied-to-Mummy-or-Daddy mode of transport, is already a big favourite in our barrio. All the staff in the local supermarket and at least one of the neighbourhood cafes know her by name. Shopkeepers wave at her through their windows as we pass by. People continually stop me and ask after her or do the Spanish version of "coochie coochie coo" to her directly. I continually hear people saying "Que cosita!" ("What a tiny thing!") to each other when they catch sight of her.

To be honest, it's like being out and about with a diminutive celebrity. Rosie, of course, accepts all this adoration with equanimity - most of the time she doesn't even deign to so much as notice her many fans. A more persistent admirer might be rewarded with a smile, but mostly Rosie retains her air of blissful ignorance at the sensation she causes as she and I walk down the street.

As a Stay At Home Mum, this attention, although occasionally a little disconcerting (well, I am British, after all) is mostly very welcome, as days could otherwise pass without me exchanging words with anyone apart from Theo (or coos and gurgles with Rosie). Humans are naturally social animals and anyway, it's always good to have an opportunity to try out my bad Spanish.

So when we were back in the UK last weekend for Theo's sister's wedding, the change couldn't be more pronounced. Oh yes, the state visits to Mrs Berry's Nursery and the HRH wedding caused a definite stir among the friends and relatives assembled, to be sure. No, it was the stroll around Cirencester where the difference between Brits and Hispanics was most conspicuous.

It took me a moment or two to work out why it felt so strange walking down Cirencester's main street compared with our barrio in Madrid (it was even hot and sunny that day). Then I realised. It was as if the purple-wrapped bump tied to my chest with the little curious face sticking out simply didn't exist. It wasn't that people glanced at her then glanced away without comment. They just didn't see her at all.
I was starting to wonder if I was imagining Rosie's presence myself - of perhaps we had inadvertently crossed over into a parallel dimension. But no, eventually a mother of a toddler did say: "Look at the baby." I smiled at her in relief. My maternal vanity doesn't require copious amounts of adoration for Rosie, but I thought the motto in England was "Children Are Seen And Not Heard" - but Rosie might have been invisible, for all the passers-by noticed. I bet if I'd had a dog on a lead we would have invited more attention. Rosie, on the other hand, didn't seem overly bothered - although she got a bit fussy towards the end of the walk. I wonder if she's as impervious to all the adoration as she makes out.

1 comment:

  1. Hiya! Scottish babies must be more visible, my wee man seems to get loads of attention wherever he goes! Re: sleep, I've got a natal hypnotherapy posnatal relaxation cd you'd be welcome to have a shot at. LMK Sunny, (off MN) x

    rhireid (at)