You are past 17 months now of course, but what with Christmas and New Year and Mumma’s not so secret drinking habit, this letter comes a wee tad later than usual. No need of course for apologies and groveling, we’ve got plenty of time for guilt in the future. (And indeed the past, boiled baby foot anyone?)
17 months means that you are big enough to sing to yourself during car trips or just generally song-worthy moments, strange foreign words from the Land of Tricky which you punctuate with arms flung high into the air and knitting of brows. As the ultrasound indicated so many months ago, you are indeed a keen dancer, and during the festive season it took little more than a burst of Hark The Herald Angels Sing or Deck The Halls or Night Flight To Venus to cause immediate swaying of your body and stamping of your feet - much to the delight of my dad who was permanently disabled in the 70’s with Saturday Night Fever and keeps not one but two mini disco balls in his computer room.
Of the words I can recognise, it’s still all about the BUTTONS. CRACKER and WATER are also high on the playlist but just lately CHEESE has become your new best edible friend. Also a word that is unspellable but recognizable as a signifier for watermelon, which you will almost certainly eat off a BOWL with your SPOON in your CHAIR, as well as a similarly unspellable but consistent word for MILK. In the mornings you call loudly for your breakfast which sounds like you want BUTTER and believe me I’d be tempted to get it out of the fridge and taunt you with it except that I know you’d think it was CHEESE and just the sight of something yellow and cold is enough to set off your excited shrieking. Outdoors, your interests include playing with the BALL, riding in the CAR and spotting various aircrafts including COPTER and something that means AEROPLANE.
When you wake at night you call for MUMMA, DADDA and WATER but you’ve also been heard to shout loudly for your aunty N as well as your grandmother (Aphwa). For some reason you often sprinkle an OH DEAR amongst the names which makes me laugh but also you’ve got this really mournful, depressed tone of voice that you’ve managed to perfect. It makes you sound like some long forgotten prisoner shut up in a dungeon on a deserted island and if I actually get up out of bed and answer your calls I’ll trip over your long grey unkempt beard and then be bitten to death by your specially trained pet rats.
Your studies in Toddler (Beginners) are coming along nicely, you’ve managed to perfect Throwing Objects Down Stairs despite our blundering attempts to hinder you and I note that you have been refining these basic movements and applying them to mealtimes too. First you demand SPOON, then you demand a second SPOON, then you fling the first spoon quickly to one side (and I quite like the way you don’t even bother to watch its trajectory, instead watching my face for the slightest twitch of response) then you load up the second spoon with food and fling that swiftly to one side and then while I’m groveling on the floor trying to scoop up wet lumps you drop your BOWL over the opposite side and then scream loudly for WATER.
It may seem like there’s some sort of predictable routine here but in fact sometimes the water is flung first and the spoons treasured until the very end. Every meal is an adventure. Yet, also, sometime in the last month or so, I saw you brandish your spoon, capture a couple of baked beans and deliver them triumphantly to your mouth and your beaming smile of satisfaction as you chewed at your hard won tomato flavoured captives was simply delicious. It made me a little sad this obvious sign of Growing Up-ness but also relieved that if something happened to us, your Willing Slaves, you would at least be able to eat your beans nicely.
I love your laugh, your gleeful, rolling laugh, and the way that so many things delight or entrance you. Mumma doing her Riverdance impression when a certain Irish ditty appears on your Very Clever baby Music cd, for instance. This both delights and entrances.
Also eyebrows: hilarious. And bellybuttons: hysterical. This Christmas, the last word in funny you decided, were the tiny white pebbles in one of Aphwa’s potplants. Pebbles! Tiny! Many of them! The sight of them nestled around the half dead wisteria had you shrieking. Nothing could be funnier, or so you thought. On a whim you suddenly started grabbing fistfuls of the tiny white funny pebbles and throwing them to the ground. Shrieks of laughter! And then you scattered a few over the top of Poppy’s lawnmower. Thighslapping goodness! Sweeping them up with a broom though, that wasn’t funny at all. But then, you suddenly discovered, in another potplant, bark chips. Bark chips! The very idea of it! Brown, irregularly shaped, imminently throwable! You howled with glee as an adult sprinted over the paving to try and halt the inevitable tsunami of mulch and I’m pretty sure you crapped yourself you found the whole thing so funny.
Last year was your first ever Christmas and to celebrate you held it together until your first ever Christmas present was placed in your wee little five month old hands and then you suddenly became the Screaming Tomato and had to be put to bed for a nap and that was Christmas 2006.
This year there was less screaming and hence many more presents to open but also less adoring public since all your aunties were having Christmas elsewhere. Once again there was a pre-Christmas Christmas with the Naughty Nephews and with Gramma, Papa and K and N because they would be south and we would be north with Poppy, Aphwa, Uncle P and Grumpy Grandad. Among other things you were given a ball covered with small knobbly protuberances which you immediately latched onto. Given that we are slowly but definitely weaning now, it was a slightly wistful sight. And then of course you flung it down the stairs.
You have become a small solid beautiful little man with crazy hair that curls or straightens according to the weather.
You still think your parents are fantastic people and amazing adults, you think we’re as clever as all get out and funnier than a pot of mixed pebbles and bark chips. We bask in your admiration and adoration and in return we worship the ground you tip toe upon.
Because of course the truth is we’re actually not that fantastic or amazing, nor particularly clever, nor are we unusually funny (certainly not in comparison with potting materials).
But we are your parents, your mumma and dadda, and every night we lie in bed and listen to your loud protests and practice chats and general warbling and mournful prisoner requests and we thank God and the Goddesses, and baby Jesus, and Santa and Aslan and all the elves and armoured bears and saints for you, our greatest gift of all.
Happy Christmas and Happy New Year our blessed boy.
Your very own