Sunday, February 19, 2012

Crab sticks, Wally Beans & Bum Cream

When G was a baby I attended a talk on ‘speech development’ run by my local Early Childhood Centre. Back in those ‘daze’ I frequently signed myself and G up for activities, keen to get out the house and in desperate need of friends with babies. The presenter (a Speech Therapist, or something like that) gave an overview of how babies learn to talk and what we could do to encourage them. It all seemed fairly abstract at the time, G was barely three months old and I was severely sleep deprived – It was hard to imagine G learning to talk when I was barely capable of stringing a sentence together myself.

One thing from the talk stood out, and although it seems fairly obvious, I found it helpful.

“Talk to your baby as much as possible, tell them what you’re doing, label things!”

It was good advice… although it might have been helpful to add something like:

“When you’re talking to your baby in public, ensure that: A) You are with your baby; and B) your baby is awake”

This could have saved me from wandering round a busy shopping mall declaring, “Mummy is tired! Mummy needs a coffee!” whilst G dozed happily in her pram.  

It has been amazing to witness G’s speech development; although we have had the odd misunderstanding along the way… like the time she pointed at her newborn baby sister and shouted “Die! Die! Die!” (I’m still not sure what she was actually trying to say but I’m, er, at least 99% sure she didn’t mean it!). Or the time she bellowed “Bugger!!” the moment we put her in the bath… thankfully that one turned out to be “Bubble!”. Phew.

Now that she is repeating almost everything we say, my Husband and I have had to start watching our language a little more closely and making a few amendments; “Oh Crab Sticks!” I moan when I drop something, “You Wally Bean!” my husband yells at the driver who pulls out without looking. It was hard at first but now we barely notice we’re doing it.

Of course now that her communication skills have improved she has become a little more demanding.. it’s all “Mine!” or, “My turn!”. Sometimes I’m more than happy for G to have a turn.. like when I’m sweeping the kitchen floor, or folding laundry… but there are some things I have to say no to… “No G, you can’t have a turn of Mummies breast pump!”.

It fills my heart with joy to hear G singing to herself, and I’m so proud of her when she picks up new words and phrases… but none of this compares to the happiness I felt when G said “I love you” for the first time… and the most beautiful thing about it was that she said it to her baby sister, C. I cried.

…Then she ran off with baby C’s nappy rash lotion yelling “My bum cream!” … and the moment was over.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Granddad John

My Dad passed away 11 years ago. I hate the term ‘passed away’ as it implies that he died in a peaceful sleep, which he didn’t. Or, that he was somehow ready to go, which he wasn’t; he was only 50. It would be more appropriate to say my Dad is ‘brown bread’* I’m sure that’s what he’d prefer. He had a heart attack whilst swimming at a local pool. The pool in question overlooked the source of the river Nile in his beloved Uganda, so I guess if it was going to happen he couldn’t have picked a more spectacular location.

I miss him every single day. I wish he could know me now as an adult and mother and not the ‘know-it-all’ young woman I was 11 years ago. I wish he’d met my husband (although he would have teased him relentlessly simply for being Australian; “G'day Bruce!” and all that). Most of all I wish he could know my daughters. His Granddaughters.

He may not be here, but I see him all the time. He is here in Baby C’s cheeky smile, he is here in the spark in G’s eyes. Sometimes it’s certain expressions they pull, sometimes it’s the way that they laugh.. Yes I see him alright.

G definitely has his sense of adventure; even before she could walk she was climbing up on the dining room table desperate to make new discoveries. Now that she’s well and truly found her feet she has become quite the explorer; she loves going to a new park and testing out all the play equipment, especially play equipment designed for much older children. I have my heart in my mouth as I watch her fling herself down mammoth slides or scale a rope climbing frame. But there is no stopping her when she puts her mind to something… hmmm.

I’m sure C will develop a sense of adventure in time, but at 7 months her opportunities for excitement are fairly limited. But oh she loves to laugh. She has the most beautiful, infectious giggle and it doesn’t take much to amuse her. That Rodie sense of humour! Always looking for the funny side, always choosing to laugh.

During his time in Uganda my Dad fulfilled his lifetime dream of learning to fly and getting his private pilots licence. We had many exciting adventures together, flying off to far flung safari parks, and, er, staying in beautiful luxury resorts… We would sip cold beer as the sun went down, we would talk and laugh and drink more beer, sometimes there was a campfire, sometimes a BBQ, but there was always beer. Oh, and more often than not we would go on long game drives and look at the animals. Always forget that bit.

Dad had a little silver clock in the shape of a plane. It was a gift from friends and he really loved it. I brought the plane clock with me when I moved to Sydney and when G was a baby I put it on the mantle piece in her room. I wanted her to have something of my dads, something to treasure. As she’s got older she has become more interested in planes and played with the clock, swooping it around “woooosh”. It made me smile. But then I had to confiscate it for fear she would donk her little sister round the head with it.

If he were still with us he would love my girls. He would chase G round the park, he’d say “Oh what an ugly baby!!” and tickle little C. He would tell them tales of nightime safari, of fighting off lions, of flying planes. Instead, I’ll tell them stories of how their Granddad John fought lions and flew planes (he didn’t really fight lions by the way, he just liked to pretend). I’ll tell them all about their Granddad and they’ll know he was a brave, funny, caring man, who loved adventure...And the odd beer.

* ‘Brown bread’ is Cockney rhyming slang for ‘dead’.