You are now thirteen months old. Lordy. How time flies.
Milestones keep zipping past like G-Strings at a New York strip club when Kevin Rudd is in town. They’re not, I hasten to add, the milestones that get all the publicity in the Babylove book or the annoying emails I keep getting from PerfectMother.com (not its real name) that regularly inform me of all the things my baby is failing to do, like pointing, or controlled waving. Or cross stitching.
What about the more subtle milestones? Applauding Your Mother, for instance.
This milestone was successfully reached during the last two weeks. I was singing Incy Wincy Spider and when I finished you smiled and then you STARTED CLAPPING. And you did the same thing after Twinkle Twinkle and also after Five Little Ducks.
Applauding Your Mother is a sadly underrated milestone that needs way more publicity because we all know it completely disappears by the age of five and soon after is replaced by the far less delightful Milestone: Scowling At The Extreme Dagginess Of your Mother.
This will last for the next nineteen years.
Here’s another underrated Milestone that you have successfully achieved at quite an early age: Chewing On Shoes.
I assure myself that this milestone helpfully boosts your immune system. This means you should have the resistance of an elephant (the very healthy kind) because you really do like to chow down on those soles and some of our boots have seen a lot of action.
Rarely do I put on my grey fluffy slippers without noting the fetching little half moon of saliva above the toes and I smile and think: my baby is growing up.
Scoffing. As babies go you seem to eat a lot, to the point where people remark upon your levels of consumption. This could be because of the delicious and wholesome food my loving hands prepare for you but in truth I think it’s because your father and I have the food distraction technique down pat and most of the time you wouldn’t have a clue what goes down your throat because you’re so gobsmacked by the incredible SHOW!! that goes on at every dinnertime.
Roll up, roll up for the Great Big Dinner Show! We got Songs! We got Funny Faces! We got Silly Noises!
When Dadda does the cooking he also creates pleasing to the eye patterns upon the surfaces of your food and thus is his Inner Barista briefly liberated.
Of course the whole concept of Dinner And A Show is hardwired into your parents' makeup because you can’t work as an actor in this country without at some point “doing” dinner theatre. It wasn’t Dirty Dicks but it left its scars and also that annoying boom tish noise and a tendency to puns.
Still, as long as we can sing it, or chant it, or make our fingers do the dancing across the dinner table, you will eat it. And often, if there is singing is involved, you will applaud it.
We’re not complaining. We just fret a little because it’s not strictly art.
You talk more now; the old faves still apply “up!”, “mama”, “dadda”, “nahnah”, “get me another beer, wench”, but we are aware that one day more words shall be forthcoming.
Words and then phrases and then conversations and then soliloquies and then great ranting diatribes to journalists from current affairs shows about parents who blog about their children.
Ah yes, it’s all ahead.
You saved the biggest Milestone so far for the day that you turned thirteen months. On that day it was as if a little switch went off in your brain, and lo the little switch was marked: “Walking Is Not Half Bad”.
For the past few weeks you have teased us, us, your Doting Parents, with the hint, the promise, the prospect of walking, more than that; you have laughed at us, scoffed at us, taunted us a second time and insisted our mothers smelt of elderberries.
Crawling, you seemed to say, is what all the cool kids were doing, not that loathsome walking, or if not crawling, then simply being carried from point A to B (and then C, D, E and F) by your Willing Slaves.
True, sometimes you would rise from your sitting position, as if to say, Behold Me! I Am Risen (From The Sitting Position) and then you might take a few steps, sometimes as many as ten, while the Willing Slaves gathered and cheered from the sidelines and smiled as they massaged their aching backs.
But then, it was if you suddenly tired of the adulation and the fancy footwork and everyone knows crawling is so much quicker anyway and hey you, slave, pick me up I say. Jiggle me on the spot. Now sing. Sing I tell you! Sing Toot Toot Chugga Chugga Big Red Car! Again! Quickly! Make a Funny Face while you do it…no wait, you bore me…give me to someone else.
Having got used to you being at ankle height for so long, it is almost shocking to see you amble past at above knee level.
Firstly, because you’re not actually that good at it and when I use words like stroll, meander and amble, what I really mean is
Stumble Like A Dwarf Extra on “Shaun Of The Dead”.
And secondly because it looks so…well, so not like a baby. More like a…little boy. A little zombie boy maybe, but a little boy none the less. In very dirty socks, because you don't have any shoes.
Yesterday we decided it was time, now that your feet were making regular committed contact with the ground, for you to finally have shoes and so we took you to a shoe shop.
God I wish we had a camera with us, not just to photograph you in your new sandals but also to document the embarrassingly drippy way your father and I behaved.
How we smiled and simpered, how we hugged ourselves with big beaming grins, how we dabbed at our moist eyes and made awww! noises, as you tottered your way around the shoe shop.
Look, I wanted to say to the other customers, That Is My Son! He Is Walking! In His New Sandals! Make way o lowly shoe patrons, because He Has Risen and Now He Walks Amongst You!
How we triumphantly sang as we began to drive home, songs of ducks and big red cars and twinkly stars, and how you clapped and laughed and kicked your newly shod feet.
He’s falling asleep, your father said later. We were still driving and it was now dark. We had stopped by the river earlier for fish and chips and that led to a drink at the pub and now we were rushing slightly. You had gone ominously quiet and there was still supper and bathtime to go. I turned on the light and leaned over the back seat, preparing myself for another loud round of Toot Toot Chugga Chugga.
But you weren’t asleep, I saw, far from it. One newly sandaled foot was wedged into your mouth and you were chewing contemplatively as you stared up out the window at the stars.
That’s two milestones at once, I noted. My baby is growing up.
Your Very Own