The Business with the Baby

The business with the baby happened when I was eight. I'm 12 now so it was ages ago but I can still remember how it started.

I came down to breakfast one morning and Mum said 'Sit down Jamie. We've got something really exciting to tell you.'

So I sit down and my mind's racing and I'm thinking...it's that new bike I've been going on about...they've got me the bike...or Disneyland...maybe they've decided we can afford to go after all...or maybe...

But before I can think of anything even more exciting than Disneyland my Mum goes, 'I'm going to have a baby.'

'Isn't that brilliant,' says Dad. 'You're going to have a baby brother.'

'Or sister,' says Mum.

'Yeah or sister,' says Dad. 'After all these years. Isn't that amazing.'

'Yeah, amazing,' I say and I get up and go to my bedroom. I've got some serious thinking to do.

When I was about three or four I really wanted a brother. Even a sister would have been OK. I used to say to Mum, 'When am I going to have some brothers and sisters?' and Mum'd look a bit sad and say 'I don't know love. Let's just wait and see what happens.'

But nothing did happen. No babies turned up and after a while I got used to being the only one. It was OK. I had my own room with my computer, my telly my toys, my books. Everything was just mine, see. I didn't have to share stuff with anybody. Didn't have to share Mum and Dad either. They were my Mum and Dad and they belonged to me. Just me.

One day my Mum said to me 'It's going to be a girl. A little sister. We thought we might call her Katie. What d'you think?'

'Yeah, Katie...whatever,' I said and I went up to my room.

When the baby was born I had to go and stay with my nan. Nan was really excited. Like she'd won the lottery or something.

'Just think, Jamie,' said Nan. 'In a few hours you're going to have a little sister. Things are going to be different in your house now.'

'Yeah,' I said. 'I know.'

But I didn't know. Until Katie came home I had no idea how awful babies are. New babies are rubbish. Honest. Their heads are too big, their eyes don't work properly and stuff comes out of their mouths all the time. At the other end you've got nappies to deal with...I don't even want to think about nappies. And babies don't sleep like normal people. Two o'clock in the morning the baby goes off like a giant pink alarm clock then there's no sleep for anyone for the rest of the night.

Another thing I didn't know about babies is they're a full-time job. Looking after the baby was all my Mum and Dad seemed to do. One day I came down for breakfast and found my Dad holding Katie and saying: 'Bung a bit of bread in the toaster, Jamie. I've got my hands full here. Your Mum's asleep. She's had a terrible night.'

Full-time job, see. No time for anything else. No time for me.

I started to hate that baby. Till she came everything was nice and tidy and comfortable and Mum and Dad were always there for me. Now everything had changed. Everything was spoilt. One day I looked at the baby when she was sleeping and a bad thought came into my head. I wished something would happen to her. Something really bad.

And the next day something really bad did happen to her. When I went down in the morning I could see from my Mum's face that something was wrong.

'Baby's ill,' she said. 'Your dad's phoning the doctor.'

Next thing I know we're in the car driving to the hospital. Mum's holding Katie and crying. At the hospital doctors and nurses come rushing round and they take Mum and Katie away.

'She's going to be alright?' I say to Dad.

Dad says, 'We'll have to wait and see.'

I had to stay round Nan's house. Mum and Dad stayed with Katie at the hospital. It was horrible. This was all my fault for thinking those bad thoughts. All my fault for being selfish and hating the baby. How can you hate a baby? How can you hate your own little sister? What an idiot!

Didn't sleep all night. In the morning I told Nan I wanted to go back to the hospital. She wasn't keen but I told her that if she wouldn't take me I'd go by myself on the bus.

At the hospital Katie was in a special unit for very sick children. I found Mum sitting in a corridor. She smiled when she saw me coming and I knew from her face that Katie was going to be OK. Mum hugged me and said, 'We got here just in time.'

Katie was in hospital for ten days. That's a long time. A long time for me to think...and to get ready.

Things were going to be different from now on. I made Katie a promise. That baby was going to have a brother. A proper brother. I was going to look after her. Make sure that nothing bad ever happened to her again. And that's what I've tried to do.

Katie's four now. It's really interesting watching babies grow up. They learn something new every day. I play with her all the time. Mum says no-one can make Katie laugh like me.

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