The Baby’s Head

By Saturday everyone could tell the baby’s head was getting bigger – even me and I’m eight and three months which is almost nine which is almost ten. Last week it was born weighing 3 bags of sugar (all of it – not just the head) with the help of four seps, some doctors and some stitches which make mum walk funny but no one says it. The four seps made big marks on its head but that was not the problem though it did make me think less seps would have been better.

Mum and Dad had stopped asking me if I wanted a brother or sister a long time ago because I just said sister every time and because mum might have tubes that are funny now and dad might be a tangerine now from too many hot baths and being older than the other dads at school. That made Granddad laugh but I didn’t understand because it made mum cry and dad want to go to play pool with John who smells like soil. When they said I was going to have a brother I said that was OK but not as good as a sister because they already had the best son (it said so on my birthday card) and they cried.

Mum stayed in bed a lot waiting to have a sister for me and Dr Main came to see her almost every day. I like the idea of having lots of time in bed but only if I could play football there too. Dad said I needed to be quiet a lot and I thought this sister must need a lot of quiet which made me think more if I wanted a brother or not.

Granddad was the first to notice the head on Wednesday which was the day it came home. He took a good long look through his glasses which make him see up and down with a line across the middle. He was tipping his head this way and that just to sit if it was him or not. Instead of saying “What a beautiful baby – he’ll be a great footballer one day” like he does with all normal babies Granddad took his glasses off slowly and said “I hope she’s brainy”. Granddad sometimes can’t tell girls from boys. Everyone thought Granddad was a rude old man, but I think Granddad knew. After Eastenders Granny asked him “What did you mean ‘I hope she’s brainy?’”, but Granddad just wiped his glasses again and said he was tired.

By Thursday afternoon, just after Richard and Judy, Granny could tell something was wrong too. She tried to smile at the head but when it looked back she thought she was having a turn. Granny went and sipped something from a little bottle she has in her granny-bag and she went from yellowy to reddy and looked a lot happier. She does this sometimes when she’s having a turn, but sometimes she does it when Richard is on his own because Judy was on the sauce last night. I don’t know what that means. Granddad saying that makes Granny cross and so she has the bottle and a nap. My sauce never makes me miss school but it tastes good on chips and cheese.

By Saturday the head was even bigger, in fact, bigger than its body and it didn’t fit in the cot that mum said was meant to last until Christmas. It was bigger than a football but I couldn’t kick it.

Granddad seemed quite cheerful and started taking bets on the Head bursting when his friends came around to point and stare. None of them said they had seen anything like it, though someone remembered reading something once but couldn’t think if it was water or iron you needed to worry about. I don’t understand how either of those could make a difference. I think adults are stupid sometimes. Granddad said there was no harm in honest gambling and I’d learn one day about ‘sure things’ and his friends laughed. I wanted to learn about them now but Granddad said it was a ‘sure thing’ I would which made me mad because I don’t understand Granddad when he’s funny.

Because of the Head, this week Mum was ‘blind crazy’ with not thinking even though she kept her eyes open and didn’t bump into things. “I just can’t think! I’m going blind crazy!” she said over and over again. Dad decided it was well past time to call in Dr Main who as well as looking after mum sometimes takes my temperature when I want a day off school. He smells a bit like nice dogs and because of that and the head I was quite excited about this Saturday afternoon in a way I had not been since last month when James played football with me.

When Dr Main came round he said: “What seems to be the problem?” which made Granddad snort like he was trying to laugh but it just made him snot. Granny punched him in the arm. No one seemed to know what to say next and my mum looked like she was about to cry again for the millionth time today and Dad was hugging her. Granny tried to explain. She said, pointing, “The girl’s got a head…a head the size of a…a…well….it’s a head of heads”. And that’s all she could say really because the Head did have a big head.

Dr Main crouched down to look and the family surrounded the head as it lay on a mat on the floor. He then looked at it from the other side of the room and then the other. Then he walked a circle around it and stroked his chin and sat down in Granddad’s chair. Everyone looked at him and then at the baby and then they all sat down too, but Granddad sat in Granny’s chair and mum stole Dad’s and Dad stole mine. I didn’t want to sit there anyway because it was too exciting.

When I was just thinking of sitting down or going to ride my bike, Dr Main said “The child’s head is just too big and, if I’m right, it’s getting bigger. By the end of this week it’ll be the size of a couch. By the week after that it will be the size of this room. By the turn of the month it’ll dwarf the house. God knows what’ll happen by Christmas. It could have its own gravity.” Everyone in the room looked like they were frozen. He carried on “But it’s not an uncommon problem in new babies, it just doesn’t normally manifest itself in the head on the outside so early.”

“What can we do Doctor?” said Granddad “We really need the house and the couch” And when he said this Granny punched him again and mum and dad look liked they could move their frozen a bit but not much.

“Don’t worry about them” said the Doctor, and he winked at Granddad “because I can cure it and I’m pretty sure I can cure it now”. And he did.

Doctor main got up, walked straight across the room and slowly bended his knees and body to bring his big smiley face right up close to the head. When he got there he stopped for a bit and looked into the heads eyes and then gently kissed it before walking to the door.

As he was leaving Dr Main said “I would strongly advise you this: please don’t fill her head with worry because sometimes they don’t know where to put it. If they hang on to it, that’s the time it’s dangerous.”

After that Mum and Dad started kissing the baby on the head and its head got a bit smaller each time until it seemed normal. It wasn’t as interesting as the next day when Granddad bought Granny a new bottle for her Granny bag and no one cried as much but it was quite good.

The Baby’s Head

Vincent Smith

Bristol, United Kingdom

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Artist's Description

A tale of anxiety-reducing warmth for all new parents

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