dear wren (14 mo)
This past weekend you turned 14 months old. We spent the Bank holiday at your grand-papa Stewart’s. He lives at the end of a very long driveway in a magical garden at the top of the highest hill in all of Hampshire. Your dad and I love it there and it seems you do too. It was so wonderful to be able to leave the doors wide open and let you wander in and out as you pleased, far from traffic and noise and pollution, without the worry of you eating cigarette butts or sticking your fingers in dog poo or cutting yourself on shards of glass or getting hit by a car. I can’t tell you how relaxing this was to the mother of a toddler.
We spent most of the weekend out-of-doors. You had your very first swim in a river on Friday. The water was glacial and took the breath out of your little lungs and the rocks beneath your feet rather shifty and sometimes sharp but you took it in your stride. You especially enjoyed watching dad and I dive under the water and float down the river. This, for some reason, you found to be hilarious.
On Saturday, we went for a four-hour walk. We thought at one point that we’d have to turn around because you neither wanted to walk nor be in the child carrier but then we veered off the farm path and into the woods and stumbled on horses and sheep and cows and for the rest of the journey, you sat quietly, taking in the sights. I can’t tell you how proud we are of you. You’re such a little trooper.
If I’m being honest though, we’ve had been a bit of a challenging week. Not only have you cut your first molar and are on your way to cutting a second (which means tsunamis of saliva), you also seem to have contracted hand, foot and mouth disease, which, although quite common is still pretty vial. You look like you have the plague, with blisters on your hands and feet and canker sores in your mouth and a foul mood to go with it (I can’t blame you, I’d be pissed off too). It’s been a looooong week of sleepless nights but yesterday, the fog lifted and you finally slept through. Mostly, that is. By 3am, your room had turned chilly (it’s an old house) and so I took you into our warm bed and you spent the next four hours windmilling between dad and I. Still, I’ll take that any day over the dozen times you’ve been waking up in tears over the past seven nights.
We have to talk about a couple of things. Firstly, the pram. You’ve suddenly taken a dislike to it. I’ve tried to reassure you that it’s not some whale that’s going to swallow you whole but I think, really, your annoyance coincides with learning to walk. These days, you’d much rather push the pram than to sit in it. Which is fine, often times. But sometimes we have places to be, my little crumpet, and we’d never get there at your albeit-rather-quick-for-such-small-legs pace.
Also, the biting and scratching. Not cool. Especially not cool? You laughing at me when I use my stern voice and say no about the biting and scratching. I do not find this funny at all. I’m at a loss. Part of me is grateful that you generally only bite and scratch me. But most of me wishes you didn’t do it at all. I’m starting to look like one of those zombies in the Walking Dead. I think it’s just a phase. It’s just a phase, right? You’re not going to turn into some psycho agro child, are you? Dear Lord, please let it be a phase.
You’ve added a few new words to your repertoire this past month. You can now say duddles (for bubbles) and dodage (for fromage) and duck (for duck). Essentially, all of your words start with a D and anything you don’t know how to say is dada or a variation of dada, much to your actual dada’s dismay. Dada for thank you. Dada for blueberries. Dada for mama. Everything else is “that”, including your bunny. I keep calling him Monsieur Lapin but you insist on calling him “that”. This is very confusing. You’ve also been practicing your T’s lately. Some days you walk around stuttering ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta for minutes on end.
You now say uh-oh whenever you drop something. You haven’t quite caught on that uh-oh is typically reserved for accidents, not for when you purposefully drop something. You also like to make a satisfied Hhhhaaaa! sound after drinking, like you’ve just taken a sip of an ice-cold beer at the end of a long day doing manual labour under a harsh sun.
You love to dance and not only to music, to sounds in general. You sway to the sound of a ticking clock and a growling lawn mower and a whirling salad spinner, equally. You love anything with a beat.
To say that you have a mild addiction to duddles is a gross understatement. I’m not sure whether it’s the bubbles themselves that you love or the taste of the soap on your fingers after you’ve popped them. Either way, there isn’t a day (read: hour) that goes by without you asking for duddles.
You’ve learned to sip through a straw and you’re obsessed with balls and you love to point at planes in the sky and play peekaboo with your books and you can identify the duck and the cat and the dog in Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? You also bring our shoes when we ask for them, and even when we don’t, your not-so-subtle hint that you want to go play outside.
You’re now really weird about having things stuck on your hands and feet. Anytime there’s a strand of hair or a wet leaf or a blade of grass or a pebble you look at me, slightly worried and make this long whining sound until I’ve removed the offending object. I’ve taught you to wipe your hands together, which has brought some relief, but this whole thing is terribly perplexing to you. Again, dear Lord, please let this be a phase.
You are a daredevil, especially when we’re hanging out on the bed. You love to go right up to the edge, turn slightly towards me, give me a cheeky smile knowing that I’ll catch you (often by the pant leg) as you try to kamikaze off. I suffer at least one heart attack a day. You’re going to send me to an early grave with all these antics but I’d much rather you be adventurous and take risks, a veritable Pippi Longstocking, than be afraid of everything.
One of your favourite games is when we play hide and seek with bunny. You say “that?” and I say “Où est Mr. Lapin?” and you raise your shoulders to your ears and your hands to your shoulders in a gesture that means you haven’t a clue. And then we go around the house. Is bunny in the cupboard? Is he under daddy’s hat? Is he in my pocket? Is bunny in the rubbish bin? Is he under the sofa? Eventually, we find him right where we left him (usually on the floor). We then have a little giggle and you throw him back on the ground and we start all over again. And again. And again.
But my favourite favourite thing this month happened last week. Daddy came home after a spectacularly crap day and I said” “Tu veux donner un câlin à papa?” (translation: I think your daddy could use a hug), something I’d never said before. And you walked up to him, wrapped your arms around his legs, snuggled right into him and said “Awwwwww”. It was the sweetest thing, one of those many heart-warming moments that make being a parent worthwhile. The kind that makes you think “Ok, maybe I won’t put her up for adoption… yet.”
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. You are pure magic. And this journey with you just keeps on getting better.
Thank you for being such a little comedian, for making us smile and laugh every single day.