One of the things I love most about being a mum is talking to strangers. A baby is the perfect ice-breaker. I’ve found myself chatting to people in the park, in shops, at adjoining tables in cafes – even just in the street. And they’re proper conversations too – I almost feel like saying “We should do this again sometime” before I leave.
Today the wee man and I had a day out in Edinburgh with my mum. We caught the bus, then the train, wandered round Harvey Nichols and George Street, then caught the train and bus home again. On each journey and in nearly every shop we made a new friend and I nearly burst with pride as he smiled, giggled and generally charmed his way around Scotland.
The best bit, though, was our last bus trip. It was 5.30pm and the place was packed with commuters. Luckily we were the only pushchair, so I sat on the pull-down chair opposite the bay and thought how different the journey was from this one. People crowded us but the wee man and I were in a bubble playing and making faces… Or so I thought. I must have made a particularly funny noise because he burst into giggles and suddenly everyone around us was laughing too. I looked up and about ten faces were looking down on us. I smiled in surprise and everyone was immediately asking questions. How old was he, what was his name, he was such a happy wee thing, was he always this content? F looked around in delight – his absolute favourite thing is an audience. Then he got the hiccups and that set everyone off all over again – they were cooing and waving at him and making their own funny faces. They got off one by one, patting his hand and smiling as they told him goodbye in various forms of baby language.
An older gentleman was left sitting behind me. He asked me how old he was and when I said four and a half months he shook his head in amazement. “I’ve had lots of kids and dozens of grandkids – and none of them had reactions like that wee soul,” he told me. I beamed at him and thanked him. Every mother worries about their child’s development and, given the wee man’s wee health blip, I reckon I worry more than most. Before he got off the bus, the old gentleman said, “You’ve got a very smart son there.” I looked down on my grinning baby and decided that yes, I really did.