When governments want to torture individuals they have an array of methods at their fingertips. There’s the classic thumbscrew, the new pretender waterboarding and even the playing of David Gray songs at high volume. Seriously! “That’s a thing” as the irritating phrase du jour goes.
I have a fresh option.
Try taking my daughter to Baby Massage. That would test even the most ardent freedom-hating fiend’s resolve.
For the record, before I delve into the still-so-painful details, it’s the babies that are receiving the massage, not providing it. It’s also nothing to do with Hot Stone massage. Don’t expect to lie on a linen-draped couch listening to Enya whilst a softly spoken woman places over-heated infants on your back, you will be disappointed.
Baby Massage is just one of a dizzying array of classes available to while away an hour between feeds; there’s Baby Yoga, Baby Swim, Baby Sew, Baby Archery, Baby Lion Taming and Baby Sky Dive to name but a few. At this juncture it’s worth noting that not as many of the above as you’d imagine are fictional.
Jill had already signed herself up to take Elsa along to the regular Baby Massage class but for Christmas she booked me a special Dads Only session so that I could learn all the best techniques for burping, winding and, ahem, loosening stools. Being a parent is one hundred per cent glamour, I tell you. Joking aside I was genuinely looking forward to some time with Elsa and hopeful of coming away with some calming methods that weren’t simply “pass her to Mum as soon as she looks like she’s going to cry”.
Their first session together had been fun by all accounts with Elsa enjoying being manoeuvred and manipulated whilst Jill and the other Mums sang silly songs. How hard could it be?
I was about to find out.
A few days later we cautiously entered a room next to a gym filled with wall-to-wall stimulation for the baby brain; garish coloured cloth, cuddly toys and the unmistakeable sounds of panpipes floating softly from an iPod dock in the corner. Maybe this could work, I optimistically thought to myself as Jill left us to go swimming. I placed little ‘un on a towel, stripped her off and, under instruction, began to massage her chest. She seemed to enjoy it, she’d had a cold and perhaps it was loosening the catarrh (more glamour). I could almost detect the beginnings of that winning smile which melts my heart every day. This was great!
Then we moved onto the stomach. Five minutes in and the popular love ballads performed on traditional South American instruments were replaced by the screaming of an eleven week old who’d rather be anywhere other than where she was. Even Baby Lion Taming.
And that was how the next 55 minutes played out. Three other Dads with their kids relaxing happily and me franticly soothing Elsa who, if we’re being honest was making rather a meal of the whole thing. She was like a baby Luis Suarez after the slightest touch from an unwitting defender.
Just as her smile can bring such joy, her wailing cuts through me like a dagger. The knowledge that she’s that upset and there’s nothing I can do to make it better is heart breaking.
So there you are; as much as I do not condone torture of any kind if you want to crack a tough nut in the terrorist hierarchy then Elsa is your girl. I was prepared to confess to keeping Shergar, Lord Lucan and Elvis in my basement and I don’t even have a basement.
One word of caution though, it may not be one hundred per cent foolproof; Jill took her again just four days later and had, quote “a delightful time”.
She’d tell me anything…