Adoti and I were asleep by 10.30pm on New Year’s Eve. We both slept like baby’s should after a day spent squabbling at every turn.
In 2014, she was too young to understand the significance and import of ‘crossing the year’, and in 2015 she was asleep. We both were. To be fair, she still has no cognisance of the passage of time, other than the hours that lapse between daylight and nightfall.
She knows it’s night time because Mama begins to chant her, “It’s time to go to bed” mantra.
Last year, I was usually talking to myself because Adoti would rarely respond to much of anything I said, least of all instructions to go to bed. This year, she has begun to put her limited vocabulary to entertaining use.
She’s still trying to figure out what the words mean so many times she will just pull a word from her memory and apply it to whatever situation is at hand.
A typical conversation will go something like this.
“Morning Dots! Time to wash your face and change from your jammies!”
That would be me trying to be cheery in the morning.
“No!” she says, grinning from ear to ear.
“Yes, baby. Wash your face and change.”
“Bah-eee!” she says. That’s her preferred pronunciation of the word ‘bye’.
“Ati bye? Kwani where are you going Dots?” I ask, my early morning grumpiness making way for amusement.
“Wow!” she says, eyes glinting with merriment.
“If you say so,” I say to her with a chuckle, as we get on with the business of face-washing and changing.
As soon as we’re done, she jumps off the bed and says, “Go-go!”
That’s one word – okay two – that she understands very well, because it means leaving the house and going downstairs to play.
She’s getting better at putting meaning to words but many times the neurons in her brain fire too fast and she blurts out the first thing that comes into her head. Other times, she’ll be sitting alone having a conversation with herself, pointing and gesturing like a character in a telenovela, and thoroughly enjoying herself.
The other day, she followed me into the toilet as she usually does, standing right in front of me as I lowered myself onto the loo. As I did my number one, she pointed at her diaper and said, “Poo poo!”
“Yes, baby!” I said. “That’s right! Well, it’s more like ‘wee wee’ than ‘poo poo’ but yeah, that’s right!”
I got so excited that Adoti joined in and began clapping her hands. What a sad day it is when a grown woman gets excited about bowel movements, I thought to myself.
It is one of the privileges of being a mother to watch your child learn new things and slowly but surely get better and better at them.
Of late, she’s been trying to say the word teeth, but it comes out as “tee”.
She’ll point at her toothbrush and say, “Tee!” gesturing for me to give to her. Often it will be in the middle of the day, which is not really a traditional time to brush. Sometimes I try and explain and other times I give in and hand it to her.
We’ve had to place almost every movable item in the house out of her reach because she’s at that stage where everything must be pulled down and examined. So DVDs have been packed away, magazines stacked in cardboard boxes, remote controls placed high up on the TV stand, cups and glasses stored way above eye level, sufurias on counter tops and so on.
Whenever Adoti does manage to get her hands on something she knows she shouldn’t have, she will quickly try to dismantle it. When she succeeds, she lets out a jubilant, “Ooh-wee!” much to Mama’s consternation.
Ah well, this is all part and parcel of raising a child. She really should thank her lucky stars that she is so adorable. It’s hard to discipline toddler who is so darned cute, even when she’s being naughty and she knows it! Can’t help but love the little imp, and to tell her exactly that at every opportunity.
“Mama loves you Adots-Dots,” I say to her in that super-irritating ‘sing-songy’ tone that adults use on babies.
“Do you love your Mama?”
“No!” she says, loud and proud.
Maybe next time I’ll just use my normal voice.