Just got back from a typical Sunday afternoon chez my old friends Petra and Rob’s: Vintage French chanson records (Piaf, Juliette Greco, Gilbert Becaud) playing on the vintage record player. Ice-cold Cava served in vintage glasses (are you catching a theme here?). Three languid cats prowling around or drowsing. Except this time, there was a baby in the room!
Petra gave birth to a strapping, healthy 9 1b baby boy Dorival Lino Swanson on 25 April 2012, and this was my first chance to meet my new “nephew.” Before this, I’d only seen a few photos on Facebook. While I was there, Dorival (the name is Brazilian. Both Petra and Rob are crazy about Brazil, have travelled there pretty extensively and love Samba and bossa nova music) was a bit cranky and clingy (with both Petra and Rob) and also seemed ravenously hungry. I didn’t attempt to hold him on my lap this time, but I did manage to kiss him on his tiny pink sea shell-like ear. I can confirm he is the personification of “adorable” and fascinating to watch (even when he’s sleeping!). He has a thick thatch of jet black hair, dark blue eyes (although they’re liable to change colour in coming months; all babies are born with blue eyes) and a very cherubic face. So far he looks like his dark-eyed, dark-haired German mutti more than his British father, but that also could change as he gets older.
Dorival as a newborn still in the hospital
Dorival as a newborn with Mama Petra
Dorival as a newborn with vati Rob (these three photos swiped from Petra's Facebook profile!)
Rob was saying Dorival seems to find music soothing: when Rob strums bossa nova songs on his acoustic guitar, or spins French chanson on the stereo, Dorival stops fussing (maybe he likes the sound of accordions?). They intend for him to grow up fluent in English, German and Portuguese (and maybe even Spanish; his mother speaks these languages like a native), so Dorival is destined to be a true cosmopolitan, globe-trotting homme du monde at this rate.
With such chic parents, it’s not surprising that Dorival is already a stylish baby. His red and white-striped babygrow references the Breton-striped sailor / nautical look. Rob also suggests it makes him look like a convict in a striped uniform. Maybe we should call it his Jean Genet look?
Petra and Rob seem to be taking to parenthood completely naturally in their own serene and laidback way. Petra in particular is like a beatnik earth mother crossed with Morticia Addams (when I think of Petra and Rob as parents, my reference points are Gomez and Morticia Addams, or Fred and Lily Munster).
Dorival and Rob
Angelic: Dorival sleeping in his Moses basket
Finally! A shot of Dorival sitting up with his eyes open! Dorival and his beautiful mutti. The cloth on Petra's shoulder is because Dorival pukes a lot
Even the cats are coping with the traumatic arrival of a newborn baby surprisingly well. When his crying grows too shrill and annoying, they simply leave the room. Sometimes they have to be shooed out of Dorival’s Moses basket and pram, which they seem to find really inviting to curl up in. The volatile and sensitive Fernando (Petra rescued him as a stray from Spain years ago; he’s like a temperamental Spanish prince) seemed hungrier for affection than usual. He loves male attention, and jumped on Rob’s lap as soon as Dorival was off it. He was even sweet and cuddly with me (he can turn violent when I pet him too much. Last New Year’s Eve he gave me such a savage mauling it looked like I’d been self-mutilating!).
An atypically mellow Fernando snoozing on my leg
Anyway, I look forward to spending more time with my beautiful new nephew.
(Petra and Rob long ago reconciled themselves to the fact that I’m the Diane Arbus / Nan Goldin / Larry Clark figure in their lives, documenting everything with my digital camera. See many years worth of beatnik parties at their various flats over the years here. The fabulous Fernando (aka Fernandito) has his own album here)