The Fan Man


Baby A has known ten different ‘homes’ in the last four months. He is essentially a vagrant. He must wake up every morning and wonder if he’ll go to sleep that night in the same cot, the same house, the same continent. I’m not sure, at thirteen months, he fully understands the concept of travel, especially if it takes place in something other than his pram. When we go in the lift, he thinks I’m just annoyingly choosing to stand still in the tiny room again. He has no idea that he currently lives thirty floors up in the air.

I feel that Baby A needs some stability in his life. A constant. Something that he can derive comfort from when he feels unsure - something soft and portable. A sponge perhaps? Or maybe something more purpose built. Baby A, sadly, has no interest in cuddly toys. He likes distinctly uncuddly things. His first attempt to bond with an inanimate object was earlier in the summer in Cork when he took a liking to a wooden spoon. He crawled around with the spoon in his hand, ate with the spoon in his hand and went for walks with the spoon in his hand. At night, Mr Oh would creep into his room about half an hour after he fell asleep and gently pry the spoon out of his clenched fist in order to prevent him from inadvertently poking himself in the eye in his sleep. We tried to replace the spoon with a soft stuffed dog (he likes dogs). It didn’t work. I’d give him the dog and he’d throw it at my head. He would then shout until someone gave him the spoon.

When we left Cork, we had to leave the spoon behind. It was then that Baby A became attached to a green and yellow plastic spade. Same story. He would wake up from a nap with spade marks on the side of his face from sleeping with the object of his affection gripped tightly under his head (because he suspected his daddy of daylight spade thievery). One sad day, after weeks of being crushed under the iron grip of a willful baby, the handle of the little green spade cracked and that was the end of the spade. We gave him an identical blue and red spade but he was having none of it. In the time honored tradition of communicating his displeasure, he threw the blue and red spade at my head.

On arriving in China, Baby A quickly took up with a plastic fan that we got free in Din Tai Fung. It has barely been out of his sight in three weeks. He likes to swan around playcare with it in his hand like a baby Karl Lagerfeld. He stands at the toy kitchen mixing invisible soup with a plastic ladle while fanning himself (and occasionally, if he’s in a giving mood, anyone who stops by to play with him).

I wish he’d just find a stuffed dinosaur or something that he likes instead. You may think that a plastic fan is harmless, but it’s not. Earlier this morning, Baby A crawled over to me to give me a big hug and a lovely kiss that smelled distinctly of puke. I spent the next half an hour gingerly exploring the apartment looking for the inevitable puddle of regurgitated croissant that no doubt came up when he accidentally stuck the handle of the fan too far down his gullet. It was near the front door under his walker.

I fear though I may be fighting a losing battle. A generous passerby gave him a second plastic fan this afternoon. He’s discovering that it’s hard to crawl with a fan in each hand so he’s taken to sitting in the middle of the room waving his hands about like a baby-proofed Edward Scissorhands - see photo above.

Tomorrow morning we take up residence in our new semi-permanent apartment. It’s a very exciting step for us (even if we won’t have any furniture until our shipment arrives in October). Finally, Baby A will have a home - probably the first home he’ll remember when he’s older. I’m hoping to lose both fans in the move. If he needs a comfort item, I’ll be standing by with a stuffed dinosaur.

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