Old toys for an older baby

Our old life turned up on our doorstep this week. It came in 17 boxes which were unloaded from a big truck and stacked on our living room floor by three men. The boxes looked pristine and hardly like they had come off a container ship from the other side of the world.

It has been three months since we left New Zealand and life has changed dramatically. London is still cold. Our daily battles centre around whether you will be warm enough if I take you, wrapped up so that you can hardly bend your knees and elbows, to the park. Most days our activities are indoors. You are walking, but you still drop to your knees when you become unstable on the ground outside, so a snow covered park is not the easiest place for you to get around.

You were delighted by the boxes. We found your toys quickly and put them in one big box for you. You spent the afternoon unpacking it. Did you remember them? The toolbox you got for your birthday and loved, the shape sorter, the alphabet caterpillar, the rubbish truck with the balls which spin around…. you loved them all over again and spent the evening rediscovering them. I think, perhaps, they were familiar, and that was partly why you were so happy to see them.

One box is already in our wardrobe, I know you wont play with its contents. You’ve long outgrown the baby rattles and toys and barely gave them a glance when you saw them again. Even the toys you are playing with will soon be tossed aside and ignored, I imagine. You are growing up and toys designed for small people are not as much fun as the day-to-day objects you find in kitchen cupboards. Three months ago, these toys that have come off the ship were your world. Today, you seem too grown up for them.

I rotate your existing toys already. You have so many it seems like you could never play with them all at once. So every few weeks I bring a different batch into the lounge, swapping them with the others. You still play with the cars, making their wheels spin and driving them along the floor. The teddies get cuddles when you are tired and anything that makes music sees you standing up and swaying from side to side and dancing. Often, you sing along.

But really, your favourite toys are the plastic attachments to mum’s juicer. You also love the rotating corner cupboard full of tupperware which can keep you amused for an entire afternoon. And then the ultimate is your dustpan and brush set we bought for you last week. All day, you walk around sweeping the floor. It’s adorable. Another recent hit is a box of crayons. You love drawing and it amazes me that you can hold a crayon and use it to make lines on a page. You love watching us draw, of course your father is better than me, and as his animals come to life in front of you you look on in awe and happiness.

While you play, you constantly amaze me with how much you have learnt from watching us. You use the jug from the juicer and pretend to pour liquid into the measuring cups that it comes with. I don’t even remember when you would have seen us do this. You stack the Tupperware containers, match the lids to the bowls, and stir vigorously to show me you are busy cooking.

It seems like you understand every word we say. If we ask if you want a bath in the evening, you walk to the stairs and wait for us to open the gate. If I ask if you are tired you lie down on the floor with a teddy. You are constantly finding bits of fluff or other debris on the floor and bringing it to me. When I ask you to put it in the bin, off you go and do exactly as you are told.

In the last month, your comprehension has amazed me. It seems like you have gone from understanding a few simple words, to understanding most of the things I say to you. You can’t answer back, but by your actions you want to show me you understand.

You are talking more too. You can tell me the noises a monkey and a lion make. You can’t woof very well, but you can pant like a dog because your father taught you how. Daddy is still your favourite word, but nanny is also used, and so is yumyum when you are eating. (Which is still a never-ending battle….) If you drop something or fall, you say “oh dear” with the loveliest inflection you must have heard from us.

You still love your books, my grown up baby. You are learning the actions to your heads, shoulders, knees and toes book; and you try to show us you know how to move your arms round too for the wheels on the bus. You will sit enthralled for ages in the lap of anyone who reads you a story, but you don’t just want board books with pictures. You want us to tell you about our novels. You want us to read you the newspaper and supplements which you find around the lounge.

You are nearly fifteen months, and it is this month more than any that I think you have suddenly grown up. Not only are you walking everywhere, or sometimes running to the next adventure, but you seem to understand your world these days. It’s a joy to watch you figuring it all out and playing your part in it, Little Mister, it really is.

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And he said I love you

Tonight I fell in love again.

The Little Mister, for some reason, made a fuss about being in his cot. Everyone was tired, so, as a treat, Tony put him in the middle of our bed. He was quiet. I lay down next to him and he turned to me. He stroked the hair around my face. With the truly-baby-soft skin on his fingers, he stroked the side of my face in the same way that I stroke his.

Then, silently, he looked up at me and smiled. In the night-time half-light, I saw his happy, tired eyes, and his two bottom teeth. I fell in love with him again. At that moment, he was so grown up. He was a son comforting his tired mother. He was a child who cannot yet talk saying I love you. At that moment, there was nothing else but us.

 

A world away from a baby

A few video clips, each under a minute long, tonight reminded me of the Little Mister’s first week. I found them on mum’s laptop. I’d forgotten how tiny he was. I’d forgotten how he didn’t talk, or move much. And how his face was so puffy, but how his eyes were still moving, knowingly taking in the new world around him.

Milin is fourteen months old. He is a toddler and already a world away from a baby. Each day, I am stunned by how quickly he is growing up. Each day, he surprises me with how much he understands of what I tell him.

And Milin can also make himself understood too. He still loves pointing. His much-used pointing finger is thrust in the direction a hundred times a day of things he wants to show me. Usually it is a bus, or a bird braving winter, or something that looks like it isn’t a toy but could be fun. Most exciting of all though is pointing at a dog in the park or on the street, and Milin seems to live in eternal hope that the dog will come and play.

He knows where his toes are, where his nose is – and he can point mine out too. He can walk across the room, although he would rather crawl because it is faster and easier. He understands almost everything I tell him. If he is tired and I ask him if he wants to sleep, he lies face down on the floor to show me it’s time to get into his cot. He LOVES going outside more than anything. He loves making us laugh. He loves watching sport and claps his hand together as soon as it comes on the tele. He dances and sings as soon as music is turned on.

Only 14 months ago, this little boy was just a couple of days old. He has, of course, changed everything in that time. But many things are the same too. That we love him completely, and will do more so each day, I know will never change.

Little Mister 14 months

Little Mister 14 months