Baby & Me

Worst week

There is an incline in the heart of Ukambani where water flows uphill. Cars are put in free gear and instead of rolling down the hill, they roll up, completely defying gravity. This is all well and good. Stranger things happen at sea, I guess. Turns out strange things also happen when a multi-tasking Mum is trying to climb a flight of stairs, fully intending for gravity to do its thing by continuing to propel her forward.

There I was with my wallet tucked under one arm in the spot usually reserved for ‘meatwrappers’, car keys dangling from one hand and my cellphone in the other. I was scrolling through my phone, trying to find the message the dry cleaning place had sent telling me to collect my coat. In the mad dash out of the house (I was late…again), the receipt had been left lying on the kitchen counter. And in the absence of that green slip of paper, I was hoping the guy would allow me to collect with just an SMS as proof that the garment belonged to me.

So as I’m furiously scrolling through my phone, gaze fixed on the screen and my right foot engaging step one on what turned out to be a treacherous flight of stairs. I assumed that things would work as they always do. Instead, I missed the step, teetered precariously with one foot suspended in mid-air for about 10 seconds, momentarily debated which item to drop first – wallet, keys or cellular contraption – and then crash landed with a resounding thump.

The first thing I noticed was that I had chipped my toe nail, which was a shame. My feet had just been done that morning. Then with a sigh of relief, I found that I still had all items in my grasp. God is good, I thought. So good. But then I turned my palm up and my day went downhill from there. I had landed palm-down, and my phone had taken the full brunt of the impact. The screen was shattered. Jagged pieces of glass (or whatever it is they make those screens from) were trying to break free from the carnage. The display was blinking slowly, as if in pain. The image of a robot dying came to mind. “Master…syste-em shu-tt-ing down…no more…re-boot…”

For a while my robot stayed alive, even though every conversation had to be on speaker. But eventually, my beloved phone passed away. Hopefully by the time you’re reading this, I will have a new baby.

In the meantime, my human baby has been in seventh heaven. She doesn’t like mummy’s phone because mummy spends a lot of time on it, which means mummy spends less time chasing her around the house. She starts to sniffle every time I reach for it because she knows that phone time means less play time.

And even if I do say so myself, Adoti is a clever one. She’ll get to the sniffling, politely at first, to test the waters and see if there is any possibility that the phone will be put down. When she gets no reaction, she cries a little bit louder. Still no response? Now she opens her mouth wide and squeezes her eyes shut, literally trying to push through a tear or two. And she usually succeeds with the tears. But then the tone is all wrong. See Mama knows a real sign of distress from a fake one. And this mouth-wide-open, eyes-tightly-shut routine is certainly a counterfeit.

Finally, Adoti realises that Mama’s got her number and just like that, she stops. The transformation is like night and day. One minute she’s crying, the next minute she’s like, “Mama, hug! To-too, hug!” Yep, the child is learning to speak. It’s the cutest thing, but as with every cute thing Adoti does, she is quickly learning to use her new skill to play her mother like an accordion.

I’m not ashamed to say that the girl has me wrapped around her little finger. Tired perhaps, but not ashamed. Hopefully, I’ll grow a backbone by the time she turns two and really starts running rings around me.

Last weekend, she spent the day with her cousins. I dropped her off at 2.00 and picked her up at 9.00pm. I expected to hear war stories but apparently, she had been the very representation of good behaviour. She ate them out of house and home but she did so with the decorum worthy of an upstanding 13-month old. But as soon as Mama came through the door, all bets were off. The sniffling routine began in earnest. As I began to soothe her, my niece piped up. “Aunty, she’s just pretending. That’s not real crying. When she does that I just laugh at her and she stops!”

My 12-year-old niece confirmed what I’ve known for a while. The Dots has me figured out. I’m a certified Dotaholic.