Thursday, 30 January 2014

Eats, Sleeps and Grows

When she was much younger B and I used to say about N that it seemed you could just sit her down and put food in front of her and she would eat all day.  There were times when it really seemed like that.  Provided it was something she liked, which was basically everything except strawberries (strange girl), she would just munch and munch and munch and never be filled.  This was an attitude that I was very familiar with seeing as it is the way I feel most of the time as well. 

It turns out, whatever gene is responsible for my constant hunger and N’s ability to eat and eat is definitely not recessive.  S has been alive for almost 13 weeks now and his personality is very clearly demarcated already.  He likes faces, and chatting, and more faces, and having his clothes taken off, as long as it is by arms that are connected to a face somehow.  He is particularly fond of his own reflection, which is probably a by-product of the joy he extracts from people’s faces.  But above and beyond all this he enjoys eating.  The little flashes of ecstasy that wash over his face when he realises that he is going to be fed are extraordinary.

This delight in feeding has had certain side-effects, the main one being a startling and extended growth spurt.  At birth S was a perfectly respectable 52cm.  Not massive but around the top 25% on the chart that is given out, (the list of things that I am surprised that babies come with extends to hats and books, hats I can understand, very little hair on your average baby and they have this tendency to get a bit chilly but a book, really?  S seems to be a pretty average baby and I keep trying to get him to look at it but all he wants to do with the book is eat it, which I’m fairly confident isn’t recommended, if only there was a little red book to tell you these things.) Back to where we were.  S was around the 75th centile in terms of his length when he was born, but by around week six that figure had gone all the way up to the 98th centile.  Though he is just entering his third month he is already busting out the bottom of his 3-6 month sleep suits.

I understand that baby eats and grows is hardly the sort of discovery that is going to get me published in the Lancet or Science magazine, but it has led to one of the child’s more enduring nicknames.  Coined by his mother, S is known affectionately around our house as Voratio, (pronounced, as you would expect, like Horatio) a name which he continues to live up to on a daily basis.  It’s just a shame basketball isn’t a bigger sport in this country as I think S has his sights set on heights normally only attained by the very tallest of giraffes.  As they say, ‘shoot for the stars’ now how do you explain metaphor to a 3 month old?

Friday, 17 January 2014

Ferreting Away

I work at a university.  In Finance. 

But wait, I hear you cry, didn’t you get your degree in Classics?  Well, yes, thank you for bringing that up, I did in fact, get my degree in Classics, which, you will probably be surprised to hear, features very heavily in the work I do.  I bet, for instance, that you didn’t know that the Romans invented spreadsheets.  Well, you may not have known that because it is not entirely true, but you were willing to go along with me for a bit there weren’t you?  No, oh well, can’t win them all.  In reality my work has absolutely nothing to do with Classics, and a lot to do with spreadsheets full of numbers. What is true is that the cardinal truth about working at a university is that you must never underestimate the students.  Every now and then they will stun you by doing something that you never expected.  Today was such a day, twice.

Our department is in the same large office as the team who are responsible for administering the exams for the university, they deal with everything from room booking to cheaters, but today was something special.  I caught wind of something going on at their end of the office when I heard a peal of laughter.  This was followed by the sound of someone expressing great astonishment.  It transpired that a student had had the bright idea of bringing their 8 month old child into an exam with them (bet you thought this would be totally off topic for the rest of the blog didn’t you?  Well I managed to sneak a baby in there, just didn’t happen to be my own.) This was bizarre enough and leads to all sorts of questions, which I asked at the next opportunity.  Noone really knew what this student had been thinking or how they expected to get away with it.  But this wasn’t the end.  In the course of my investigation into the baby incident it transpired that an even stranger thing had happened the day before. 

Picture the scene, you are invigilating an exam.  Students have obediently placed their bags down at one end of the room and are sat working away at some exam.  You don’t really care what it is and are daydreaming about your next holiday when suddenly you hear a scuffling sound from behind you.  You glance over your shoulder to spy one of the bags appearing to jiggle.  Surely not you think and turn round again to watch the students.  Only the noise happens again, so this time you turn all the way round and stare at the bag until you have convinced yourself that it is definitely moving.  What do you do?  Clearly a student isn’t using the bag to cheat as it is safely with all the others, only it seems to be attempting a bid for freedom and no bags have ever tried that before.  Steeling yourself you cautiously approach the bag and quietly unzip the top only for the furry face of a ferret to peer back out at you.  Now I’m sure that ferrets are great pets, I would be surprised however if they made great exam partners, or even revision buddies.  How much really can you expect a ferret to remember about the Spanish inquisition or the molecular structure of a lentil?  Perhaps I underestimate them?  Anyway, this was a little off piste for the blog but it tickled me enough to wish to share it, and remember students may look unruly and like they may not be in control of all their faculties, let alone their limbs, but they will never fail to amaze you.