My favorite show in all of space and time – Doctor Who – is back on TV tonight. I do a lot of thinking about parenting and about Doctor Who, so of course they’ve crossed at some points. In fact, the 50th Anniversary special is one of the few times I’ve had Sprout watch TV with us. So in celebration of the new season, here are some ways in which babies are like the Doctor’s time-traveling “ship,” the TARDIS:
- Both of them can warp time and space.
While the TARDIS may literally bring you back in a few years when you meant to be gone a few minutes, babies can certainly make life feel that way. Few moments in life appear to last longer than listening to your baby cry when you don’t know what to do. And yet entire months with kids can pass in a blur, leaving you wondering how your kid is running around when they were barely crawling the other day. And the sleepless nights are clearly infinite.
- They’re both “bigger on the inside.”
While the TARDIS looks like a 1960s British police box from the outside, it has a huge console room with untold corridors off of it. Metaphorically, babies are the same – from the outside, it’s impossible to know their untold potential as adults. All of us come out helpless at the start. To paraphrase Walt Whitman, they contain multitudes. In a literal sense – well, it’s amazing how many bodily fluids a baby can manage to produce in a short period of time.
- It’s quickly apparent that if you’re just watching, you’re doing it wrong.
The Doctor is a Time Lord, an ancient species that travels in time to control the flow of history. In the original version of the show, the TARDIS has a viewer in it that allows the Time Lords to see outside and not interfere in history. Because The Doctor is a rebel, he totally ignores it and there’s an awesome show as a result. Just as with time traveling, parenting is not a spectator sport. It requires wandering out to a foreign planet, even when you have no idea what it’s going to be like.
- They’re both made for six people to pilot, but you’re often stuck with just one.
The TARDIS sometimes has problems flying because it’s meant to be flown by a group of people, but The Doctor’s the only one trained to do so. It’s the best for both parents and children if they have a supportive community around them, of friends, family, or both. But too often, we’re left on our own, struggling to make our way through time and space. It doesn’t make the journey less beautiful, but it can make it more difficult.
- They don’t talk, but definitely communicate.
While the TARDIS is a ship, she’s a living one that has a mind of her own. In fact, in the third episode of the original series, the crew of the TARDIS is plunged into paranoia. It’s because the TARDIS herself has a fault and has affected The Doctor and his companions accordingly. While my kid doesn’t have a lot of words yet, he definitely tells me his opinion. Also, I’m pretty sure sleep deprivation has the same effect as a broken TARDIS.
- They never go where you expect – or even want to – but bring you where you need to go.
In an episode where the TARDIS is actually embodied, The Doctor says, “You didn’t always take me where I wanted to go” and she responds, “No, but I always took you where you needed to go.” There are so many times in parenting that have turned out differently than I would have ever expected, but better than I would have as well. Even the bad times have brought out strength and love in me that I didn’t know I had.
- They can bring you on the most amazing adventures.
The TARDIS can bring you through all of time and space. While I would love to have that option, I do have a little person in the next room who has introduced me to so many new experiences than I could have ever imagined, a little person who has made the most ordinary encounters like nothing else.