Every day more words fall from your mouth. More names, more words for foods you enjoy, activities you prefer, animals and their languges - some of which you have never actually seen except in picture books. The animal noises actually started just a few days ago. I asked you what the Cow said and you told me Moo! and I asked you what the Duck said and you informed me Quack! and I asked you what the Dinosaur says and you revealed it was Rah! and also showed me your teeth.
You like to throw in a few phrases now and then, the Here It Is! And the What Is That? and the Here We Are, possibly just to throw us and make us say..what?! did you hear that? He just said three words together, I heard him!
Meanwhile, your command of the imperative just gets better and better. Up! More! Water! Poo Poo! (actually more a report than a command).
You are like that girl in the Grimms fairy story whose reward for goodness and kindness is to be enchanted so that she drops flowers and precious jewels from her mouth every time she speaks and your father and I follow you around adoringly nudging each other when you Rah and Moo, pushing each other out of the way to lift you Up! or fetch you Water!
We read to you every day and now you also like to “read” to yourself, you turn the pages, point to the pictures, mimic our inflections, repeat the words. I may be deep in some email adventure or half way through writing a scene but I can’t help but eavesdrop whenever you sit down with a book and chatter to yourself. Amongst the burble are words that we recognise, words you have heard again and again as you describe what you can see…fish, hug, Bobo, mumma, Maisy, mix, tickle, grasshopper… and we smile secretively at each other and pretend to be looking at our computers when you look up at us and then as you turn back to your page we lift our hands in the air to try and catch every precious jewel.
Sometimes I cunningly try to combine it all; the words, the story, the computer, the cuddles. A couple of times now you have sat quietly on my lap (an alien sensation) and watched Hooray For Fish on my computer. I actually think I read it a bit better than Emilia Fox but she has background music and the fish move and you get to listen to her on headphones which is a difficult act to follow in anyone’s picture book.
This month you are also enjoying the talents of the musical turtle you were given by your Aunty R and the many many books you received from everyone. There are also many toys that you have been putting through their paces of late, (they really deserve their own post) but your all time favourite toy is my mobile phone which you sometimes find in an opportune place and sometimes are given because you are being a pain in the butt at say a cafe and no one actually thought to bring a toy with them, or a warm jacket, or a bib, so what's the point in having a change bag with us at all, no actually it was your turn to pack it, call yourself a father? Ahem.
Of course I hasten to add my phone is not actually a toy at all it is an expensive piece of telecommunication equipment with probable cancer causing deathrays emerging from it so give it back to Mumma now, give it back, thank god the banana bread’s arrived.
I love the way you insist upon saying goodbye to your bath water, long passionate heart rending goodbyes, all sighs and sad eyes and blowing kisses and slumped shoulders as the last of the water slurps down the plughole, yet you often can’t be bothered to even look at me, frantically calling goodbye, when Dadda is taking you out for a ride in the car (Cah!) let alone wave.
I love the way you run, suddenly, illogically but then as if you have suddenly heard the opening strains of Swan Lake you fling yourself up on your tippeetoes. Sometimes you will also throw yourself down on the floor, again, no reason, just because, and then you might roll, if you feel like it, or perhaps fart or laugh or reach up for a kiss and a cuddle.
I can’t count the number of ways I love you in the same way I can’t count your teeth anymore. Are there more since last month? Perhaps, perhaps not. You do like to show your teeth off, baring then when anyone asks to look , or asks what the dinosaur says, yet clamping them together when I attempt to peer in still further. I have seen molars though, molars have been spotted, bottom gums, one each side, perched alone, proud, small islands of tooth in the ocean of your pink gums.
For Christmas you and the Naughty Nephews were given a trampoline by Santa via e-bay and a good pal of K and N’s who is Handy With His Tools. Result? Enormous, enclosed, hours of fun for adults and children and babies alike. The trampoline has proved very popular with the under tens but often they get sidetracked by cricket practice or cricket on the tv or a discussion about cricket and then we can sneak onto what I like to call “the trampo”. Most mornings we get to hang out here, you and I and your father and various combinations thereof.
I generally lie on my back with a book in my hand (currently and inexplicably; Death On The Nile by Agatha Christie) because I am forever optimistic that you might choose to “play quietly” beside me for twenty minutes or so. I am also forever wrong. Some may say, rightly so, what do you expect, this is not a banana lounge alongside a kidney shaped pool at a Balinese resort with a strapping young man named Edwardo to serve you cocktails, it is a trampoline and you are meant to be entertaining your eighteen month old and also it’s only 9.30 in the morning, stop daydreaming, he’s about to unzip the net wall and bounce straight out onto the paving stones. At those moments I sigh and put down my whodunit and my caprioska and position myself between you and the net flap of doom and exhort you to “run round and round”. You see, you don’t actually jump on the trampoline, such things are beneath you, but you do run round and round pumping your little legs up and down in an entertaining fashion. At some point in the round and round you usually fling yourself into the net wall and breathlessly fall back beside me, gurgling with laughter, eyes shining, shovel feet flailing, and I look at you and wonder at how lucky I am, how blessed we have been and then when you roll yourself towards me, still laughing, for a cuddle, I nearly self combust with pure joy.
This month I have been struck by your growing separateness from me, your movement away from babyness towards real-person-ness. You have your own logic and agenda and it all makes sense under that curly dark hair, all the running (but not the jumping) and the shouting and food throwing, the toddler tantrums and the daily grieving of bathwater.
It’s very hard for me to bid farewell to that baby image of you, that soft, snuggly, weeny bundle (“oh, he didn’t even make 50 cm,” said the midwife when you were born) but month by month he moves further and further away from us.
All I can do is sigh and wave and blow kisses as he swirls further down, into our past. I wrap my little boy in his bath towel and hug him tight as he calls bye bye to the bathwater and then I search for his pyjamas as the scent of bruised flowers fills the air.
With love from your very own