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by Scott Dunlop
I am being stalked. Since May 2006 I have been looking over my shoulder. I have felt like a mild celebrity. I don’t get blinded by camera flashes outside the supermarket, or enter into impromptu car chases, no, my stalker is far more subtle than that.
I wake up in the morning, and he is there. I bathe, he is there. I get dressed, and I feel his eyes watching me. With every cupboard I open, and every switch I touch, his large saucer eyes trace my every move. He doesn’t speak very much, but he does communicate. What he says to me frightens me. He whispers constantly. You are my hero. I want to be you. I want to do everything you do, and touch everything you touch. I want to wear your shoes, eat your food and test the elasticity of your skin…
Which would be very creepy if he was a stranger, but this tiny follower of mine, this little disciple is my son. His gaze is unnerving, his ability to absorb all of my attention is alarming. He is not content with being a bit part in my life-movie, no, he has taken over.
He wants to direct, he wants to write, he wants full creative license. He wants to have his name above mine on the billboard, and he refuses to share the credits with anyone else. The stalker wants to be the star.
Which isn’t the same as marriage. With marriage, you go from being completely independent, to selectively co-dependent. It’s easy to compromise a little bit for someone you love. You can be married and still retain a great portion of who you are. Not so with babies. With babies you are utterly subsumed by their dependence on you as a caregiver. You can’t fob them off with telling them that you would rather go out and watch a movie than change their diaper, or feed them a bottle. Not unless you want the Authorities to pay you a visit…
You can’t just give them a tiny portion of you to clutch, like a sweat-stained handkerchief; they need to have complete access to you all the time. On-stage, off-stage and in the dressing room. Now that I think about it, I have been replaced. I was one the star of my show. I was one the one choosing to eat what I wanted, and where I wanted it. I was a free agent. All my royalties went to me.
Suddenly, I find my contract altered. I have been down-sized. The baby is in charge. He commands all the attention when we head out to the shops. He is the one high-fiving strangers and pretending to laugh at their weak jokes. I just traipse after him with his bag, the one stuffed with his snacks and clothes, in case he should get peckish, or need a sudden change. I wipe his bottom, for goodness sake. Everywhere he goes, I go. Every time he opens his mouth, I check to see what he is trying to say. I study his body language.
I am there when he wakes, I am there when he sleeps. I take photographs without his permission. I am obsessed.
I am a stalker.