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dear wren (10 mo)

April 30, 2016















I’ve written this post in small chunks over the past thirty days, a sentence here and there, in the quiet moments, few and far between. I’ve written it, fingers frozen, on park benches while you slept in the pram; in cafes, surrounded by strangers; on my phone, one-handed, while you nursed; dictated on the fly on the way to the corner store; handwritten in a notebook, with the door to the dishwasher conveniently left wide open — all knives removed — giving you free rein to the cutlery tray in exchange for five uninterrupted minutes.

Hence why this post is disjointed, like a patchwork, with the only thread tying it all together being your cheerfulness, which continues to cast a spell on everyone you meet.

You turned 10 months old on Wednesday, which begs the question, “Am I stuck in some sort of time warp?” Wasn’t it just last week that my waters broke on the way down the stairs and your dad had to run up to the bedroom to get me some fresh pants while the taxi driver waited to rush us to the birthing centre and we got stuck in traffic on a Friday night at the height of a heat wave and I was crouched down in the foot well, 9cm dilated, making feral noises with every contraction and your dad was afraid that I might give birth right there and then?

Whoever said the days are long but the years are short was right.

This month you figured out how to climb the stairs. You had absolutely no interest in them until you saw another little girl climb them. You watched her tackle those stairs like a boss and thought, “Oh! Is that how you do it?” and up you went. I can already see a bit of a competitive streak in you.

You recently started to say cat. Except that you don’t say cat. You say Ca…Ta, with a pause between the Ca and the Ta. I give you ten thousand points for enunciation. The reason you say cat is because your dad has been stubbornly trying to teach you the word even though you have zero frame of reference for it, except for Owlcat, your species-confused stuffed animal (it has the eyes and ears of an owl with the tail of a cat, hence its name). You now call every animal in every book and in every field Ca…Ta. I want to correct you except that, first of all, you’re far too young for grammar lessons and secondly, I see your reasoning: it’s furry, it has four legs, it must be a cat.

Some of your favourite things to do lately include: opening and closing cupboard doors, swimming at the local pool on Saturday mornings with your dad (i.e. hurling yourself off the edge of the pool into the water a foot below), and taking cards out of my wallet. You pull a card out, examine it closely, chuck it on the floor, and then proceed to do the same with every single card. And when you are done, I place all the cards back in the wallet and you start over again. This is a great trick when I want to carry on a conversation with a friend but eventually you get bored and I become one of those moms who can’t actually carry on a conversation. Apologies to all child-free friends, we mothers know that we have crappy listening skills and we feel awful about it.

I’ve started taking you to Stay and Play dates every Friday. As soon as I set you on the floor, you are off like a flash, approaching everything and everyone with complete fearlessness. I’m fairly certain I could step away and you wouldn’t even notice. Someone said the other day that you had a very confident face. I think there’s no better compliment for a mother, especially one who hasn’t had the best track record for high self-esteem. I hope you’ll always remember that you are made of stars, that you are unique, that you can do anything you set your mind to. I hope I’ll be there to remind you every step of the way, while also teaching you a thing or two about humility because there’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance and you don’t want to be the latter. Nobody likes a twat.

What else have you been up to? Teething. You’re getting ready to sprout a massive tooth and you’re not happy about it. And if you’re not happy, nobody is happy. You need extra cuddles to fall and stay asleep and I’m reminded this past week of the early days, when I survived on only a few hours of sleep every night. How in hell did I manage that? I’d give you something for pain relief but Calpol might as well be baby crack for the way you suddenly spring to life like Tigger, in the middle of the night, your batteries charged to one thousand percent. So, cuddles it is for now.

Teething is giving you a whole new face. Your cheeks are pink with fine capillaries on the surface and weathered like your great-grandma Lambert’s and you keep curling your lips back, like you forgot to put your dentures in. We’ve been calling you granny Wren all week.

You’re all about imitating lately. If someone coughs at the table next to us, you cough right back. If your dad toots, you make a tooting sound with your mouth. Your parroting skills are pretty impressive, which means that we might soon have to start rethinking a few of the unsavoury words we use around the house… or at least, start replacing them with French equivalents.

I love the little freckle over your left ear. Has it always been there? And the way your hair is starting to curl at the back and grow over your ears. You look a bit like Darryl from The Walking Dead. Your dad and I think it’s funny so we’re just going to let it grow and see where it goes. We get our kicks where we can.

Here’s a list of things you’ve put in your mouth recently: the oregano that you spilled all over the kitchen floor last Monday (your breath smelled like doobie for the rest of the day), toilet paper, a huge clump of soil, all sorts of leaves, grass, twigs, and shampoo. And here are things you very nearly ingested: a goat turd, metallic star confetti, little balls of Styrofoam and maca powder, which makes me wonder how the human species has survived this long. You generally give yourself away when you suddenly turn quiet. This is not your natural disposition so I always know that something is up when the da da da’ing stops.

What else? Oh! You poo standing up, which make sense, I guess, because… gravity. But it looks really weird. Just this morning, papa was brushing his teeth and you crawled over to him, hoisted yourself up, grabbed on to his pant leg and proceeded to take the biggest dump known to man, locking eyes with him, grunting, red in the face. I swear if you could talk you would have said, “Mind if I just stand here and take a poo? I’ll only be a couple of minutes.” Someday, you’re going to hate me for sharing this on the Internet but I do believe part of my role as a parent is to tease you, just a bit, so that you don’t grow up to take yourself too seriously. It’s good to be able to laugh at yourself.

You now understand how to put things together. You don’t quite have the coordination to stack things gracefully but you know that they are meant to go together and so you use brute force – like, Gladiator force — to get things to do what you want them to do. You can also be uncharacteristically gentle, like the way you took my hand the other morning and then took daddy’s hand and joined them together. It was the sweetest thing.

Vbc vcvds=^çè23as mnq1      W     ZÙZA!!AA b muy06. This is a message you typed on the keyboard while I was trying to blog (precisely why I need quiet moments, ahem). You love the laptop, especially when sounds come out of it and if you press the right key, the music stops and then starts again LIKE MAGIC. I can’t see this laptop lasting much longer with you pressing every ounce of your 17-pound frame onto it.

Still, I like your coded message. I like to imagine that if I decipher it, I’ll discover the meaning of life, which I think I caught a glimpse of the other day when you were sitting by the window and the afternoon light hit you just right and you were completely fascinated by a sprig of parsley and I thought that’s it, that’s it right there. That’s what it’s all about. That complete sense of awe and wonder for the simple things. And my how we adults whizz by it all, so fast, so fast. The days are long but the years are short.

Thank you for being my little guru.


7 Comments leave one →
  1. April 30, 2016 7:54 pm

    This is such a beautiful post, Wren is going to cherish reading these when she’s a bit older. The photos are stunning as well, you are such a brilliant photographer, no blurry snaps with a thumb covering half the frame here!

    I actually laughed out loud at the part about Wren pooing standing up. My parents love to tell the tales of me watching TV on my potty and of the time when I pooed so violently it ended up in my hair. You’re right, you have to embarrass her thoroughly at every opportunity. Particularly about poo.

    Rachel x
    The Inelegant Wench

  2. April 30, 2016 9:27 pm

    Yes, that complete sense of wonder and awe for the simple things. That. Right there. She has it all figured out, your little babboon.
    So cant wait to meet her in the flesh. In the meantime, just seeing her face here, and via skype will just have to be enough.
    I love these updates, thank-you, it means at least you are all still alive 🙂

  3. May 1, 2016 12:01 am

    I don’t think this was disjointed at all. It was beautiful! And, my kids put everything but my cooking in their mouths. What the heck? Little weirdos. 10 months is a wonderful age. Get ready for the crazy when she begins to walk! Oh, man!

  4. Alison permalink
    May 1, 2016 4:59 pm

    There were so many Wren expressions in these photos that I’ve never seen before. The little OH of her lips in the tub and the expression of absolute amazement whilst standing by another tub. The look of dismay sitting under the plant. I assume that was pre-ingestion of dirt? What a character this one is. The multitude of things she is learning is staggering. Adults are lucky if they learn one thing a day. We are so lucky that you notice and note it all and share with us Jeanine. It makes us feel a part of her growing. Thank goodness she is confident. It’s a wonderful trait to have. I’ve always wished I had it myself. She has and she will go far because as you said she’s made of stars. Made of stars. Beautiful. And joining mummy’s and daddy’s hands together is so joyful to me. She knows that you love each other. She knows. How does she know these things at 10 months old? I have to say she is brilliant. And so funny. That cheeky grin when she and mummy are wearing the strainer helmets is too adorable. She gets humor doesn’t she? I love you little Wren. You make my heart beat with joy. Thank you for being you. xxxooo

  5. Karin permalink
    May 1, 2016 8:06 pm

    This was very entertaining to read and the photos are delightful. Some of things you wrote about Wren reminded me of my own two (now 26 and 29) when they were little ones, especially the pooping-the complete lack of modesty, looking you straight in the eye while doing this most private of business. Hilarious! And charming 🙂
    I’m with whomever said thank you for writing these updates. Even though I don’t really know you, I just enjoy them as if I did. I guess that just goes to show that we’re all related in a way. Thank you, Jeanine!

  6. Grace permalink
    May 2, 2016 5:24 pm

    Reading this had me laughing out loud. How I wish we had computers when my three daughters were growing up! What a lovely gift to give her. I’m afraid I was one of those moms who wrote profusely for the first child, a little less for the second, and…well…barely at all for the third (the same with photos, our youngest still pouts sometimes at the lack of evidence of her early years and she is now 25). So glad you are enjoying these days so fully, and thank you for sharing them with your readers.

  7. May 3, 2016 10:34 am

    These days are full and challenging, but they’re so magical as well. Enjoy! You tell these stories so well.
    Check out “who’s a clever baby” by David Mckee on your next book run – where the baby says dog to everything. My boys loved it! xx

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