11 February 2010

Hartley: Thirteen Months

So, you little monkey: thirteen months today! You sure know how to grow up. I thought we’d never reach a year, and now look at us – one month over the 1-year mark and still going strong!

I forgot to mention in my last newsletter that your father taught you to do something very funny and, at times, dangerous. He once lifted you into the air and shouted ROUGHHOUSING! before setting you back down on the bed, where you paused from a seated position and then fell backwards with a kind of ‘timbre!’ fluidity. Wham! Which you still do to this day - just straight back, wherever you happen to be, which is usually the bed. I say ‘usually’ because now you sometimes remember ROUGHHOUSING! and I can see it in your little face, that ROUGHHOUSING! look you get, moments before you hurl yourself backwards onto the hardwood floor. And then you scream.

You did a bunch of ROUHHOUSING! on the bed yesterday, and then you demanded we take a look at The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, which is your favourite book in the entire world. You didn’t want to read the book – you just wanted to skip straight to the part where I say BIG FAT CATERPILLAR while squeezing your little tummy like you are the big fat caterpillar, except now you will just flip open to any old page and then tickle your own belly with your little fingers. Thank goodness I can often read your mind, because otherwise the joke might have gone amiss, and then you would realise with horror that we do not always share the same thoughts.

Well, you are a tiny bit aware of this fact, as is evidenced by the little storms you sometimes create when you don’t get your way, usually because we simply can’t understand what you’re after. You don’t just flap your arms in frustration anymore – you follow through with crying and a flurry of insistent words that must mean something to you, though we don’t have an English/Angry Little Chick dictionary and so can only listen patiently until you’re satisfied we’ve heard you out. These words you make up are not exclusive to tantrums and you can often be heard repeating sounds in complex patterns I find myself saying out loud to your father, who says them back to me, and oh you can imagine the passionate embraces that result after you go to bed, with a lead up like MAma, MAma…ma…ma…ma….MAma, MAma, &ct.

Usually, though, I can follow your little train of thought as it pertains to sounds that seem like words, or words that are only sounds. I used to think that ‘NAna!’ was your very first word, because you would say it over and over again until I gave you a bit of banana to eat, and then every time you wanted banana, you would find me wherever I happened to be and repeat ‘NAna!’ and ‘NaNAna!’ until I set you up in your high chair with some naNAna. But then one day you asked for ‘NAna!’ and it became clear that it wasn’t banana you were after but a packet of pureed broccoli, pear and peas (I know, but it’s what you like). So now you just shout NANA! NANAAANA! whenever you’re hungry, and we’re back to guessing at what it is you might like to eat.

Likewise, you don’t only refer to your friend Leila (pronounced ‘Lila’) as LEILA! LEILA! Any little person you quite like you’ve assigned the name LEILA! to, and I’ve given up explaining that no, that baby is not Leila, because I know you know full well that it’s just easier to adapt existing words to a variety of contexts than to try and learn hundreds of new words. I am hoping that you learn at least one or two other words from the English dictionary so that I also know when you want to go out for a bit of air, or have some milk, which at the moment you indicate by snaking your little arm into my top and pinching my nipple as hard as you can while hyperventilating and laughing your stuttering anaconda laugh.

I’m not even safe on the sofa anymore, as you can clamber up there by holding onto the buttons of the futon roll I sleep on now, your face buried as you wiggle your back legs to gain purchase, and suddenly there you are, on my lap, your hand groping around in my bra for your milk. Luckily you are very good at the dismount now, and can exit the sofa without injuring your face or head.

You have the best comedic timing of any baby I’ve ever met, and you’d have to see yourself to know what I’m talking about. I should really have something ready to record you at these times, because these little moments of yours are worth keeping, and showing to the judges on X-Factor when you invariably try out for the show with your stand-up routine. I promise I will not let your father help you write your jokes.

You are one hundred percent pure joy, and I am having the best time with you, even in spite of the fact that you are also one hundred percent bonkers. I promise you that I will try not to panic every time you shout incoherently at me when I leave a room if you promise to try not to panic so much when I go to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee, or your lunch. Deal?

Happy lucky thirteen, Juicyconda.

Love, love, love, love,


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