You should value the time before the baby. You should stay in bed and eat luxury ice cream and chilled exotic fruit because you can’t do that when the baby is here. You should pursue leisure interests because the baby will put a stop to those. You should visit galleries and encounter meaningful works of art, taking notes to share with the baby at a later date. You should read the books and dossiers about the baby that have been provided. You should pay particular attention to the highlighted passages as they are of particular relevance to the baby. You should make sure you are prepared for when the baby arrives.
You should be aware that the baby may arrive at an importune time, such as during a meal or approaching the tense conclusion of a board game. You should make sure the baby feels welcome. You should offer the baby a handshake and make eye contact with the baby and say you are very glad the baby is here. You should take the baby to the room you have prepared. You should show the baby the geopolitical globe with the major powers delineated. You should show the baby the shelf of encyclopaedias with facts and diagrams of climate change. You should show the baby the working model of the solar system.
You should explain to the baby that the working model of the solar system isn’t to scale because that would place Pluto in an adjoining property. You should explain to the baby that the working model of the solar system includes Pluto as it is somewhat antiquated. You should monitor the baby closely. You should check the baby’s progress against agreed milestones. You should subject the baby to light, sound and other stimuli. You should read the recommended texts to the baby, with simple, compelling narratives and underlying messages. You should not expose the baby to authorial unreliability. You should take the baby out. You should bring the baby home again.
You should ensure the baby is inside normal ranges and make adjustments if the baby is outside normal ranges. You should plot progress on a chart with the baby being the x axis. You should give the baby pulverised tubers. You should not give the baby bad fat. You should give the baby digestible rice. You should not give the baby lightly cooked eggs. You should give the baby unsweetened yogurt. You should not give the baby some cheeses. You should familiarise yourself with when the baby likes to sleep and attend to circadian rhythms. You should know about the moon and how the moon affects the baby by secret magnets.
You should look up into the sky with the baby in the small hours and tell the baby the names of the things that are in the sky. You should tell the baby the various names of birds. You should encourage birds to perch to show the baby and say to the baby to look at the birds there in the moonlit kitchen. You should play the baby forest sounds. You should pass over in silence the things that dwell in the forest as these may disquiet the baby. You should not mention the mysterious horned figure who dwells amongst the knotted brambles beyond the rabbit proof fence to the baby.
You should encourage the baby to sit. You should encourage the baby to stand. You should encourage the baby to crawl by providing meaningful incentives. You should encourage the baby to walk by stressing the core message of self-reliance. You should encourage the baby to remain within the carpeted and lawned areas. You should remind the baby of its fontanelle. You should warn the baby that the flowers are poisonous and can cause hypotension and hypertension. You should develop an effective communication style to communicate with the baby, utilising key words and phrases. You should remark to the baby that communication is only seven percent verbal and is ninety-three percent non-verbal.
You should show the baby the smoke signals over the pass indicating that something is awry. You should show the baby the telegrams that arrive erratically, brought over rough country by horse. You should ensure the baby is apprised of events. You should demonstrate the movements of submarines beneath the icecap with objects so that the baby can follow them. You should ensure that the baby has habits which will give the baby a solid foundation and a lifetime of health. You should teach the baby that nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished. You should teach the baby that the more water there is, the higher the boat rises.
You should not be alarmed when the baby no longer needs you. You should not take offence when the baby turns away when you are talking and gazes into the distance towards the mountains or a neighbouring province. You should not be nonplussed when the baby begins to communicate with other babies by passing coded messages in crayon or along the pipes. You should make time for yourself as well as for the baby. You should eat boneless duck and a luxury platter while the baby is happily occupied with a task or its own thoughts. You should watch with pride as the baby erects structures from age appropriate building materials.
You should not be disappointed when the baby decides to raze these structures. You should hold regular meetings in which the baby is invited to play a meaningful role in shaping the future direction of the organisation. You should tell the baby that great things never come from comfort zones. You should tell the baby that the key to success is to focus on goals not obstacles. You should give the baby probiotic powders. You should keep the baby away from predatory animals. You should teach the baby unarmed combat. You should enjoy the baby. You should remind yourself and the baby that this is the best time of your life.
Tom Jenks' most recent book is A Long and Hard Night Troubled by Visions (if p then q, 2018), a collection of shorter prose and prose poetry. His other books include An Anatomy of Melancholy (Sad Press, 2016), a poetry collection made entirely from Twitter and The Tome of Commencement (Stranger Press, 2014), a spreadsheet 'translation' of the Book of Genesis. He lives in Manchester, UK and edits the small press zimZalla, specialising in literary objects. More details at http://zshboo.org