Wednesday 17 January 2018

16 Months & Counting

Before we had a second child, I thought the newborn stage was my favourite. I remembered that time as a hazy, cosy, hibernation with a new baby. I remembered long afternoons spent snuggled on the sofa with my newborn baby, the perfect scent of her skin, the nights spent watching her sleep. I remembered the long lunches with friends, laughing and talking as our babies slept soundly beside us.

Laurie always said the toddler years were his favourite part. Whenever we would see friend's toddlers, he would nudge me and say 'remember how lovely it was when Ebony was that age'. But I remembered the toddler years as being exhausting. I remembered long, long walks down the road as she stopped to marvel at every leaf, twig and dog turd we passed. I remembered never being able to sit down. I remembered trips to the park with friends where I couldn't hold a conversation because I was too busy chasing a toddler around the park to make sure she didn't fall off the big slide. I remembered the good stuff too, but it was balanced by the relentlessness of life with an independent but not yet fully capable child.

Now that Ember is 16 months, memories of Ebony at this age have come flooding back to me. I can now fully see why Laurie remembered this age as being so lovely. I guess the newborn days aren't as magical if you're working full-time and are mainly in charge of bringing drinks and food to your breastfeeding wife who insists on arguing over who has had the least sleep each morning (me, always me).

At 16 months, Ember's vocabulary has taken off. She's picking up a new word each and every day and has recently figured out how to put two words together. She has a huge grin that she flashes to everybody we pass and she is forever shouting 'hiya' and waving at strangers as we walk down the street. She has just become fiercely independent, she gets cross when I`try to help her with things and always wants to do things herself. Now, if she wakes from her nap, she doesn't wait for me to get up there, she slides out of bed and out into the hallway to find me. Yesterday, she was halfway down the stairs before I got to her.

When Ebony was this age, she would bring book after book after book to me. She would snuggle up on my knee and I would read books to her for about an hour every day. Ember doesn't do that, she grabs the books herself and yells nonsense aloud while she turns the pages. When she's hungry, she drags the stool across the kitchen floor and climbs into her highchair. When she's finished eating, she tries to climb out again. She wants to walk everywhere, she brings me her boots when she wants to go out. Long gone are the days of her holding my hand, now she walks by herself, her hand firmly pulled away from mine so that all I can do is walk next to her and try to stop her stroking the bins we pass (why do kids do this?).

She knows when it's time to go and get her sister from school. She waits by the front door and starts shouting 'Ebadee' until I'm ready to go. Ebony is always one of the last out, and Ember spends most of the time in the schoolyard just trying to get into the classroom. Then, even though she has spent the journey there making it perfectly clear that she does not want to hold my hand, she will immediately reach out for her big sister and the two of them walk home (painfully slowly) hand-in-hand. And she loves Laurie, even if she is on the brink of succumbing sleep, she will sit up excited to see Laurie when she hears his keys in the door. And then sleep will be forgotten about so she can run along the landing, squealing with delight as he chases her and her big sister

So, I might not be able to go out for lunch much right now, and it might be easier to get a takeaway than go for a meal at a restaurant. And sure, she sometimes gets really frustrated because she can't communicate whatever it is she wants to me, but 16 months is pretty amazing. She's constantly learning and changing and growing, and it's a privilege to witness.

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