Baby & Me

Winter of our discontent

It has been one year and four months since Ms Adoti was born. It feels like a lifetime. I can’t imagine my life without her, despite having been a hardcore bachelorette before she made her grand entrance. Growing up, I never fancied myself the mothering type.

Everything was about me and what I wanted to do. Now it’s all about my sassy, lil’ miss and what needs to be done for her. It is such an alternate state of being. As if God flips a switch and magically, a selfish woman becomes a selfless mother.

And yet, even selfless mothers have their moments. Children have a unique ability to stomp on all your buttons, then take a breath and stomp again. At the end of it, they still fully expect you to love them like nothing happened. To smile and cuddle as if everything was still right with the world. All they know you for is love and perhaps it is that unwavering expectation – loaded as it is with trust – that prevents you from killing them.

Adoti has gotten on my last nerve so many times that I’m pretty sure I have no feeling left. Correction: I wish I had no feeling left. The truth is she gets a rise out of me every time, even when I know what’s coming.

For instance, she at a stage where she wants to pick everything up and examine it, and by that I mean take it apart. So as soon as I put down my handbag, she dives in and lifts out my wallet. Within seconds, all my cards and coins are scattered across the floor and as I stand there fuming, she is either cackling happily to herself or seeming completely indifferent, much to my extreme annoyance.

I’ll usually take the bag away from her, saying: “No playing with Mummy’s things!” She’ll look at me with the innocent eyes of a child, as if to say, “Okay Ma’ … Sorry. I won’t do it again.” But as soon as I turn my back, she’ll be all up in my wallet again, chortling away like a sorcerer’s apprentice.

So I’ll take it away and perch it atop a pile of pillows at the far end of the couch. No way she’ll get to it there, I’m thinking. But alas, the little scoundrel has learnt how to clamber onto the sofa. She has even learned how to climb onto the coffee table, from where she proceeds to jump up and down like her favourite cartoon characters. The first time I saw her do it, I almost chewed on my heart as it lodged itself in my mouth. She’s done it probably over a thousand times now and I still have the same reaction.

The girl has no concept of danger. She scoots right to the edge of the table, her butt sticking outwards and her little feet dangerously skirting the edge. All the while, she’s bouncing up and down like a ping pong ball, banging her hands on the table top, her eyes twinkling with mirth, blissfully unaware that with just one tiny move backwards she will be in a freefall.

That should be enough mischief for such a little girl, but no, my Adoti is determined to win the Junior Naughty Olympics. She has also learned how to work the water dispenser to her advantage. She turns on the tap, which conveniently, is right at her head level, and stands directly under it, getting completely drenched and soaking everything within a 5-metre radius.

When she tires of that, she goes on all fours and attempts to mop up the water with her tongue. When she tires of that too, she grabs clean clothes from the laundry basket and uses them to clean up the rest of the mess, and by that I mean create an even bigger mess. How do I know that this is the sequence of events? Because on two occasions, I have found her soaked in water, clutching a wet romper in one hand and licking the fingers on the other. By this time, the dispenser is empty.

She is always very quiet when she’s getting up to this CIA/MI6 level of mischief, which leads me to believe that the girl-child is well aware that she’s getting up to no good. No good at all. Sigh.

With my blood boiling, I change her out of her wet clothes, take the carpet out to dry and mop up the water, by the end of which I don’t even want to catch a glimpse of my child from the corner of my eye. But then she holds her hands up – the signal for “Carry me, Ma-Mee” – and waits with unwavering expectation for me to pick her up.

Dear Lord Jesus. This child will be the death of me, I think to myself as I put her on my lap and give her a kiss.