When the rubber meets the road

I remember vaguely, someone telling me that children grow so fast. I wasn’t really paying attention. I think the child was about a month old at the time, and I thought that I would never get a full night’s sleep ever again. I honestly didn’t believe that things would get easier, ever. But they were adamant. “Enjoy this stage,” they said. “At least when you put her down you will find her where you left her.”

Those words went over my head like a cloud filled with hot air. It was beyond my frame of reference to imagine that a time would come when the infant would not remain where I put her. You know, I don’t know how God trusted me to raise this child because sometimes Mama is blonder than blond.

Well, it’s been seven months now and I guess the time has come. Enter Lil’ Miss Toddler.

Baby will not sit still. As soon as you put her down, she’s on the move again. She’s refined the bunny rabbit, hop-two-three-four move into a smoother, more efficient crawling motion. And to think she started off using her head as a locomotive. Boy, do kids grow fast!

It’s astounding how in tune they are with their internal rhythm, knowing instinctively when they are ready for the next phase of their development. And nothing is done in half measures. Everything is practiced until perfect.

She’s only just learned how to transport herself on all-fours, and already she’s testing out her route elevens. You can imagine what fun it is at bedtime, when I’m trying to lay her down to sleep, and she keeps rolling over to scale the side of the cot so she can grasp the railing and pull herself to her feet.

Part one accomplished, she steadies herself and begins part two, which is dropping it like it’s hot, over and over again. Up and down she bounces, to the beat of her, “Ta ta ta…ta ta ta,” soundtrack, well into the wee hours of the morning. Yeah, good times.

It would be easy to get angry and frustrated with the child but when you realise that you are quite literally watching a little human growing into a bigger human, you can’t help but be amazed. The coolness factor is unmatched. At least that’s what I tell myself in the morning when I’m sleep deprived and bleary eyed, wondering if it’s possible to ingest caffeine intravenously. Oh the joys, the joys.

But as the baby grows, so does her budget. Now that she’s taken her show on the road, I’m scrambling to ensure that she is safe while travelling. I’ve had enough ‘Where’s the baby?’ moments to convince me that I need to create a space where she can perambulate freely without Mama holding her breath. So we’re getting a playpen, a contraption that will likely take up more than half the space in my living room. I think I should just give up now and cede the entire territory, because slowly but surely the child is taking over.

You won’t hear me complaining though (okay so, maybe you will) because safety is paramount. The other day she fell off my bed and my heart fell out of my chest. It didn’t help that she was screaming loud enough to wake Elijah and Elisha from the dead. Baby wasn’t injured but it must have hurt.

After a while, it stopped hurting but there’s nothing the girl loves more than a bit of drama, so when she started modulating her pitch and adjusting the volume, I knew we were over the mountain. But I also knew that from then on, I would have to pay more attention to where she is and what she is doing.

It became clearer when a few days later, she swallowed a piece of wax paper. She was playing with it, scrunching it up in her fist and then gazing upon the wad like it was a masterpiece. I was trying to change her diaper, which these days, is an art that defies perfection. Suddenly, I noticed that the top bit of the paper was missing. Meanwhile, the child was moving her mouth in a circuitous motion like a cow chewing cud. By the time I got her to open up and say ‘Aaah’ the paper was high-tailing it down her throat. It wasn’t a big piece, thank the Lord, but it was enough to shock me into a new reality.

The girl is growing. Fast. And Mama needs to keep up.