It usually starts with happy calls of what sounds like “daddy daddy daddy daddy daddy!”.
She’ll be standing in her cot, with her leopard print blankie jammed in her mouth, or tossed on the floor. Sometimes she bounces on her mattress. Her curly hair is wild and tall.
When I lift her up and take her out into the lounge room she always points and says “ooooh”, like she’s never seen anything in the room before.
I make her some “nana”, a word she uses for all food, not just banana. She eats her Weet-Bix, while pointing at her belly and trying to stand up in her high chair. Later, she demands most of my toast. She cries when J-man leaves for work, but can be quickly distracted by her stuffed dog, or a pen, or the tupperware cupboard.
When I try to dress her, she struggles and cries and tries to crawl away, unless I give her something to look at like a book, or a toy, or a nappy. She has an incredible appetite, and an incredible digestive system, so this happens several times a day.
She has only just started walking, and it’s strange to hear her little footsteps as she follows me around the house. She watches as I make the bed, put washing on, do the dishes and straighten the house. Usually she spills a glass of water next to our bed, or pulls a million tissues out of the box, or opens her dad’s underwear drawer and puts a pair of undies on her head.
It doesn’t take long for her to get tired and, when she rubs her eyes, I read her a story – but not the one with the pop-up butterflies because it’s too scary – and put her in her cot.
She wakes up about an hour-and-a-half later, often with a loud cry. If it’s a sunny day, we go up the road and sit under the trees. I drink coffee and she plays and points to dogs, buses, and trucks. She eyes children suspiciously, as though she can’t believe we’ve been hiding all these other short people from her. If someone beeps their horn, she will say “beet beet”. If she hears a bird, she will say “teet teet”.
Later, we have lunch and, if I’ve made her something she likes (which changes everyday), she squeals and throws her hands in the air. She eats while grinning and showing me what she’s chewed up. She loves to feed herself, scooping yoghurt from her colourful bowl and spilling it down her front.
Soon it’s time for her afternoon nap, and I read her a story and put her in her cot. She is not always willing to let sleep overcome her in the afternoon, so sometimes she spends half an hour singing quietly to herself.
On hot afternoons we visit my friend down the road, who has a baby only four days younger than her. Her baby friend calls her “Deils Deils” and she calls her baby friend “Bea Bea”. They will splash in the inflatable pool, grunt at each other over miniature prams, drink the pool water, take turns of going up and down the stairs, pull each others’ hair, eat frozen fruit, try to eat rocks, and collapse on a big beanbag in exhaustion.
At the end of the day, she usually plays with J-man for a while and eats slices of cheddar cheese, which she calls “ghee”. She eats dinner, while we sit and talk to her. She has a bath in the big laundry tub and reaches out for her toothbrush every night, because she likes to hold it. She screams when you wash her hair, and hates the little water visor shaped like a duck’s bill even though it’s ridiculously cute. When we get her out of the tub, we wrap her in a towel. It’s one of the only times she will happily agree to cuddle.
She snuggles with her blankie during her bedtime story, and when we say good night and leave the room she waves by clenching and unclenching her fist, smiles and says “bu-bye!”