Baby & Me


It’s been a peaceful week. We have a new nanny and so far, things are going well. Adoti has warmed up to her and the two of them get up to all kinds of mischief together.

The child has even made a friend. There’s a sweet, little two-year-old girl who lives down the way. For some reason, she doesn’t speak. The community of nannies in the neighbourhood have come up with varying reasons why, most of which have their source in one tribal grouping or another.

That chatter notwithstanding, Adoti and Leila are bosom buddies. It’s so cute to see the two of them charging from one end of the court to the other, falling and standing up again, rolling around on the ground and generally having a good time.

Over the last few days, she’s been coming home covered in dirt from head to toe, the happiest I have seen her in a while. She toddles around the house, hands held high as if in a victory dance, taking to herself and laughing, presumably at her own jokes.

She’s also becoming a little video-recording machine, storing everything we say and do for future repetition. So far she’s learned how to wave goodbye, although it usually looks like she’s beckoning instead of bidding farewell. She waves her hand back and forth, touching her fingers to her palm, and as you would expect, does it all the time whether or not anyone is coming or going.

And this very proud mama can report that the child has also learned how to say her name. She pronounces it as Do-tee! With huge emphasis on the ‘tee’. I’m not too sure she knows what it means though, because again, she says it all the time.

So say I refuse to give her the remote control. I’ve had to ban her from any kind of ‘remote’ contact because she was kicking them about like footballs. The TV remote is bound up and bandaged with a sizeable strip of white tape (it’s the only colour I had) because she dropped it one too many times and eventually, it cracked. Not a good look. But I digress.

When I refuse to give it to her, she stamps her little foot and yells, “Do-tee!” To go along with that forceful display of absolute displeasure, she bows her head slightly and furrows her brow, as if to say, “Whatchu talking about, Mama?”

I’ll usually shake my head and go, “Aaa-ah!” But then my miniature video recorder will press play and go, “A-aah!” as well, shaking her head in the exact same fashion, fully expecting that I will give her remote eventually.

Other times, she’ll be pulling magazines off the coffee table and flinging them on the floor with the kind of dramatic flair only an 11-month-old can muster, all the while shaking her head and going, “A-aah!”

It really is quite cute, even as it is exasperating.

Recently, she’s taken to licking everything. Before she would try and put everything in her mouth, but she’s figured out that some things are not portable. I’ve found her licking the bathroom floor, and even attempting to lick the toilet bowl. My kneejerk response is always to shake my head and go, “Aaa-ah!”

Right on cue, the child comes back with an “A-aah!” shaking her head even more vigourously, but then bending down to take another lick.

Realising that there is a breakdown in communication, I pick her up, lifting her high off the ground where she is in less danger of swallowing an amoeba. For that breach of the peace, I get a resounding, “Do-tee!”

Sigh. This little girl mine. When she’s not licking the floor, she’s licking my face. It’s quite a production. She takes my face in both hands and clamps down hard, lest I attempt a quick getaway, sticks her tongue all the way out, and then slurps like she’s eating a human ice cream cone. By the time she’s done, I feel like I’ve been baptised, and Adoti is talking to herself and laughing, presumably because I have now become the joke.

This is what they mean when they say that kids grow fast. It’s miraculous to me that this little human, with her blossoming personality, was born less than one year ago. I look at pictures from the day she was born and I’m amazed at how much she’s changed. It’s as if she’s been born again. Lord knows she’s been my salvation.