Da-da-da-da-da, daaad, dat, da, da
She scurries across the floor, using my name as a kind of catch-all description of her current feelings: happily and busily moving from toy to toy, smiling wide whenever she catches my eye.
Which I don’t necessarily want. If I pay her too much attention, she might come over here.
I’m like all the parents – I’m so tired. She’s playing so nicely by herself for a moment. Busily pulling clothes out of the laundry with one hand, clutching tightly onto my plastic reading lamp with the other. She found it the other day and it is her latest piece of plastic obsession.
But I know it can’t last.
Soon, a curly head pops up and that sound starts, ehhh, ehh, ehhhhhh, which of course means, “Pick me up Daddy. Play with me Daddy. Pay attention to me Daddy!”
I’m so tired. She woke us up at 5 am this morning. She’ll lie there between us in bed, blabbing to no one in particular, rolling over occasionally for cuddles.
We’ve already played with all the toys in the living room, listened to music, walked around the apartment together, helped Daddy clean up, even indulged Daddy’s nostalgia by watching 15 minutes of the ‘90s show the Magic School Bus (is it weird that it’s actually better than I remember?) But, she’s one. It only held her attention for about 10 minutes. (Daddy may have watched another few minutes after she lost interest.)
So I try the best of both worlds. I pick her up and plop her in bed with me. I lay out a few board books she loves to “read” (i.e. flip pages), snuggle up close to her, and close my eyes. It seems to be working. She’s entertained and I’m resting.
Something hard hits my face. It hurts in the way something does when you’re not expecting it.
I open my eyes. She’s holding one of her books and I recognize what she’s doing. She’s trying to get me to read it to her by shoving it into my face. It’s hard not to laugh at the simultaneous directness and innocence of it all.
“What?” she’d ask if she could.
I open the first page of her “Happiness” book and I start reading.
I love watching Shifra grow and develop. It makes you aware of how we develop into a person in pieces, one small block at a time. New skills build on top of the old. Her ability to communicate with and understand the world grows in a similar fashion. More complex abilities layered on top of older simpler ones.
The request for attention is part of it. Like a superhero who just learned to control a new power, she uses it all the time.
All of which allows her personality to assert itself in clearer ways. We really only have 3 words beyond Mommy and Daddy at this stage: “No, no, no” (it’s never just one no), “more”, and “wow” (complete with the open-mouthed look of astonishment). It’s amazing how much she can get done with Mom, Dad and just those three.
No, Daddy, I don’t want that. More singing Daddy. More food Daddy. No, not THAT food, the OTHER food. Wow, Bibi, I have a Belly Button! Mooooom, pick me up. Mooom, I’m tired. Da-da-da-dad, I’m having fun.
Combine that with the facial and body expressions she’s been carrying out since she was a fetus – the I’m not sure what to make of this eyebrows (my aunt likens it to a banker who’s feeling doubtful of your loan application), the staredown that can make an adult 6 times her size flinch, the happy bouncing to any kind of beat or music, the way she moulds into your body when you cuddle her, the smile so broad it feels like you’re communicating with her soul – and you feel like this is a whole person.
So, I can’t properly describe the wonder in seeing this little being become. It allows me to push past the fatigue and be present with her. Most of the time, anyway. And if not, well, she’s got plenty of toys and books to shove in my face to remind me.
That’s my girl.