Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Letter To A Fourteen Month Old Beachcomber

Darling Tricky

The day you turned 14 months old was the day your father and I celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary, two days after we celebrated our 13th year together. We had champagne with your grandparents who are visiting us from Western Australia, which was not the most romantic way to spend an anniversary perhaps (the champagne was lovely) but was still enjoyable.
This month you had a sort of brainwave thing happen because all of a sudden you seemed to be recognizing names and objects. You look in the right direction when we point objects out to you: car, ant, dog, trees, monkey, giraffe (Some of these objects are not native to the North Coast of NSW) and often you will make quite a good attempt at speaking their names: “car” “ann” “ahgh” “ghhg” “ahah” “ahhhh”.

Frankly it all goes a bit downhill after “ant” but nevermind, you have other skills, like your fluency in Clicking Beetle language which continues unabated.

Eating is something you continue to excel at, along with filling your nappy to the brink of explosion. Your sleep routine is settling pretty well. These days (sudden frantic knocking on wood) you have a nap around 11am which may go for two hours and at night you sleep till around 4.30am when you wake for a quick feed and then back to sleep till 6am. Apparently once, long ago, you slept in till 8am. It seems as unreal as the thought that once, in another lifetime, your father and I sometimes slept in till 10am. I know! Crazy!

Just on the nursing, an odd behavioural quirk has emerged here. It seems you currently prefer to feed sitting up. Vertically if possible and with both breasts available at any time. (It’s the sort of access your father can only dream about.) No longer the discreet first one boob and then the other, it’s both or the highway. I don’t know what this is about but your frequent bobbing from left to right makes me laugh, even at five in the morning.

When we ask you if you would like a story your face lights up and you scan the pile of books we have with us to see what takes your fancy. This month we are back on that old fave “Commotion In The Ocean” (with all its scandalous aquatic untruths) as well as it’s literary twin “Rumble In The Jungle”. This time round you can say “shark!” when we get to the appropriate page (well alright it’s “arrrr” but you say it with ferocious intent).
The Mr Men books are also starting to make an appearance although I admit to some judicious abridgement. I’m a big fan of the English twittery wryly-humourous and somewhat pedantic style but not so much for this age group. Maybe next month.

You seem taller, even thinner, which I assume is because you are walking all over the place (for “walking” read careering about in a perilous manner which often leads to crashing, toppling, tripping and various other uncontrolled impact type events). But then again that could just be Mad Fond Mother At Large.
At least your father is exactly the same. Yesterday I overheard him haranguing Papa and Gramma about the mental brilliance you recently displayed down at the beach. From what I could gather you walked over and tried to pick up your bucket in one hand (ambitious little minx you!) and when that failed you reached across with your spade and pushed the bucket into an upright position, and then you picked it up. Papa and Gramma wisely nodded and agreed, mmm yes, utter genius. I may have spoiled the moment by pointing out that it was just like a monkey using a stick to poke ants out of a nest.

There is a point that comes in some stories that I think of as The Flip Flop Moment. They’re unexpected. They’re not always welcome. There are certain song fragments that cause this effect, an emotional tuning of the body as if, in the playing of these chords, the resonance echoes through the very chambers of your heart.
These happen in films too, moments where tears suddenly spring to your eyes, where you find yourself catching your breath, where you realize that in the space of a second your mortality, your tears, your hopes, your childhood dreams, urges, yearnings, are unpeeled and laid bare. Like a camera flash illuminating the dark corners of your soul.

In that moment, in that pin prick of life, it is as if the world is suddenly shown as it is, so that you feel in sync with every person in the room or the cinema or the theatre and you can see all the possibilities, the worth and the weight, of all the unfashionable attitudes: compassion, mercy, unselfishness, nurturing, and how much more beautiful the world is because of these things.

All this is different for different people, different layers of memory and experience built up and polished every which way.
And all this I felt this morning when I walked down to the beach to meet you and your father.
It took me a while before I realised that dotted through all the footprints of all the early morning walkers, I could see yours. Weeny little feet, tiny toes. Delicate as a bird’s, chaotic and erratic, threaded round the heavy wide footed prints of your father’s.

From far away I saw you, standing by the water's edge. I could just make our your tiny form crouching by your father, both in blue, both wearing hats, both bent over examining something on the sand. I walked on towards you, thinking how nice it was to see the sun, how clear the water, how bright the sky. I was aware of you both but not really, not intently.
When I was still a little way away, I realised that you were both looking up at me and your father let go of your hand. You ran towards me, your arms outstretched.
It caught me by surprise, this.

Your thin brown arms and legs, the bright blue of your sun suit, the damp brim of your hat, the gappy grin and those bright dark eyes fixed upon me. Your strength and your fragility, your resilience and your vulnerability, your capacity for love and for pain and for all that life has to give you were there in those tiny running steps from your father to me.
A great wave of love hit hard at me. I gasped in and sighed out, with the shock of it.

It caught me by surprise, and by the heart, and by the soul and by the pit of my stomach, my baby boy in blue, so that I dropped my bag in the sand and ran to you, laughing, crying, scooping you up and feeling your small wet sandy arms clutch me to you.

Thankyou for this month my darling.
Your Very Own


Anonymous said...

This made me catch my breath too--so true and beautiful. Thanks

gold star said...

Hello there.

The letters to your son that you post here have changed my perspective on parenthood.

I'm a bit of a cowering blubbering wimp about embarking on that road, and these bare-hearted letters have helped me tackle my ambivalence.

So thanks. :)

Your son is an adorable magpie. Virtual squeezes to you both for the encouragement.

Anonymous said...

That made me feel all squishy inside.
Thanks Ova Girl.

Nico said...

bobbing between boobs made me laugh.

I so love the way you describe Tricky and his antics. I think he will truly treasure these letters when he gets older.

Anonymous said...

Of all your posts, this is my favorite so far.

granny p said...

Aaaa..aaah. Beautiful.

Anonymous said...

ah - so sweet.

The grandparents tell us what a genius ours is.

Apparently she played with closing the velcro on her hat all by herself.

So she is bound to be an engineer no less!