We mustn’t talk too loudly, because Dolly’s asleep in her cot over there. She’s teething, and I’ve only just managed to get her off.
They said I shouldn’t have a baby. They that said if I did it would be taken away by social services because I’m mental. At least that’s what the neighbours said. The official people just said that it would be too hard for me to cope, and I wouldn’t understand what to do.
They think I’m stupid.
I know they were trying to be nice, but it’s not fair to say I couldn’t look after a baby. I mean it’s natural, isn’t it, having babies. Anyone can learn to feed a baby, and change its nappy and keep it warm and safe.
I take her out every day in the buggy, because grandma said babies need fresh air. I never leave her behind in the supermarket like they thought I would. I talk to her and play with her, and she’s learning really fast. I bath her and always make sure her clothes are clean and dry. She’s never had a day’s illness because I look after her so well. I love her more than anything, and she’s easy to love anyway, because she’s so pretty and good, and she hardly ever cries.
And love is what really matters, isn’t it? Just because I’ve got what they call special educational needs, it doesn’t mean I don’t know how to love people, especially my own child. Loving is easier than learning.
Anyway, I proved them wrong. They never even check up on her, because I’m doing such a good job. They said so.
I called her Dolly after my grandma, because she was clever and kind and she always said nice things to me, and I want my little girl to be like her when she grows up.
I wouldn’t want her to be like me, because people make fun of me and I don’t think they like me very much. I don’t know why, because I’m always polite and friendly, like the teachers taught me to be.
The father? She hasn’t got a father. I don’t know how it happened, it just did. Well, I suppose she must have a father somewhere, but we don’t need him. He must have been someone I stood beside at the bus stop when my carer took me out one time. When I was in school my friend Lena said that can happen sometimes. She knew lots of grown-up things, but some of them didn’t sound very nice, and I don’t believe people would do them.
Oh! Dolly’s waking up. Would you like to hold her?
Don’t say that! Why does everyone keep saying that? She’s not a doll, she’s my baby, and I’d like you to leave now. Go on. Go away and leave us alone.
© Jane Paterson Basil