Saturday, April 27, 2013


I spent some time with my eight month old granddaughter Scarlett last night, for the first time since Christmas. I had the honour of changing my first dirty nappy in what must be twenty-five or twenty-six years. Her nappy, that is, not mine. She seemed to accept me quite readily. Perhaps the physical resemblance between myself and my daughter is enough to enable her to identify me as someone to be trusted. Perhaps we even share some genetically based odour. To a biologist who has studied kin recognition, both of these seem reasonable hypotheses. I also had the privilege of giving her her final bottle of formula for the night at 10:30 P.M. She drank most of it; but chiefly, it seemed to me, she simply wanted to lie there in my arms, with the teat in her mouth, looking at me or at the light in the ceiling, reaching out and touching my hand, or my face when I leaned in towards her, making contented sounds – Scarlett, that is, not me; although I may have made some too. Only when I attempted to withdraw the bottle did she resist and begin to suck again, tricking me into believing she hadn’t finished yet. When I did finally withdraw the bottle she did not protest greatly, and made no objection when I laid her back down in her cot. Later, downstairs, I listened to her, through the baby monitor, chattering to herself and making more contented sounds.

I don’t want to make any profound philosophical or ethical observations here today. I think this just about says it all.

Image by Scarlett's mum, Natalie

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