Baby & Me

Call me baby

From newborn, to infant to toddler and back again, it might be time to call baby a name other than that which denotes the current stage of her development.

She was sitting on my lap a few days ago when the children of Lang’ata Road primary school stepped up to the picket line to demonstrate against the grabbing of their playground.

The scenes were distressing. The image of a little girl crying and calling for her mummy is unforgettable. A knot tightened in my stomach when I imagined my own child in that kind of chaos.

But I was so proud of those kids for standing up and being counted! They were more courageous than most of us could ever hope to be. Because they dared to fight for their rights, the lethargic arm of the Government was jolted into action and by Wednesday last week, the relevant authorities were on site, restoring their playground to its former glory.

The activity caused a traffic jam of epic proportions, but even as 30 minutes turned into three hours, we were comforted by the thought that it was all for a good cause.

And yet I cannot imagine dropping my child at school and then turning on the lunchtime news to see her surrounded by a riotous crowd, ducking flying canisters and choking on teargas fumes. My heart would quite literally fall to my feet. At the same time, I want to raise a child who can raise her own voice for a worthy cause. But it’s early days yet. We will cross that bridge when we get to it.

In the meantime, I need to give the child a ‘pen’ name. I’m guessing that the sassy, lil’ miss will not take kindly to my revealing her ‘government’ name, especially after my in-depth analyses of her bowel movements.

I remember my first ultra sound. I was so excited to hear her heartbeat. It’s so hard to imagine – even though women give birth every day – that you can actually carry around a living, breathing human being in your tummy. But there it was loud and clear; a very strong, very rapid heartbeat.

It was amazing to me that the wee, little dot-like mass that showed up on the screen was going to grow into an actual baby. I called my sister and told her that I had seen the child and she was a dot.

It wasn’t long before she started calling her ‘The Dot’. But then my nieces and nephew chimed in and it became ‘Adot’. Finally, they all settled on Adoti, given that the she is of a certain cultural persuasion. Her father doesn’t understand any of the thinking behind it, but there you are. I’m sure I’ll be explaining the origin of this nickname to the child herself for years to come.

I can just imagine it: “So the doctor took a picture of me, yah?”

“Yes, he did. And you were just a tiny, tiny, tiny, little dot.”

“I was really small, yah?”

“Yes, you were. So I told Aunty Maggie how small you were, just like a dot. And she said she would call you The Dot.”

“And then what happened Mummy?”

“And then, she changed her mind and started calling you Adot.”

“She started calling me Adot?”

“Yes, she did. But then all your cousins started calling you Adoti. And pretty soon everyone was calling you by that name.”

“Why did they start calling me Adoti?”

“Because they liked the way it sounded. And they were happy that they had the chance to give you a name that no one had thought of. They even made a picture story for you and wrote your name all over it.”

“So when I’m big I will have a picture story to remind me how it was when I was a baby, yah?”

“Yes, sweetpea. When you’re big you’ll be able to see how a small, little dot can become a big girl. All your friends, teachers, cousins, aunts and uncles will be so amazed at how much you’ve grown.”

“Yes! One day I’ll be a big girl, yah?”

“For sure. One day you’ll be a big girl and you will go to school and leave Mummy all by herself in the house. And I will be sad because I won’t be able to talk to you all the time.”

“Don’t worry Mummy. Even when I’m a big and I’ve gone to school, you can still call me baby.”