It’s a hard line to tread when they’re little – little ones – I love that expression – ‘little ones’. It’s a hard line to tread – half of you, well, half of me at least, wants just to cherish that moment, to take in every single little minutiae of their face – every little dimple, and every smirk. It goes so fast you see, changes so quickly, it’s hard to get to know someone, learn to know someone, as their face changes, squares off, rounds out, flattens down, sprouts, teethes, and begins to look less like an old person, and more like a…well…more like a baby – which is what it is – and what she was.
It works, somehow, I think. I think people just manage it, manage it because it’s mutual; you’re just learning to know them, and every single solitary step of the way they’re learning to know you right back. And they do, eventually.
I like to think baby did. It always seemed like there was something knowing there, there was a ‘yes, I’m yours, yes, and don’t you worry about it, not one little thing, because you belong to me.’ We did, we did belong.
Baby & I would smile and nod, and giggle at the same things: when the letters drop the three feet or so from the letter box to the mat – ‘not a very dignified way to enter our home’ – baby would be thinking. When the toast popped – she loved that noise, the ‘pop’, then the leap, then the ritual of butter on bread. When John Lennon hit that high D in the closing third of Happiness is a Warm Gun – every time it approached we would look at each other – bang bang – and squint – shoot shoot – and raise our eyebrows (hers smaller than mine) – to wait and see if he would make it…he did. Every single time.
Alongside that, alongside the savouring and the learning and the support – there’s the other half of you, well, me, who just can’t wait.
Like the toast really, you see you love that; the smell, the butter, melting, then that new smell, that new smell you made, you created… you love it, and then you don’t want it to end, you shouldn’t. But you do. You want to nibble, then munch, then gobble, till it’s all gone. We’d play that together actually, baby and me, racing down our toast, racing down our throats – both tiny triangles – seeing who could gobble It first before crumpling in sleepy heaps on the canapé. It always took a ‘peek-a-boo’ to wake us up.
Sometimes, you just can’t wait. You meet this person, day 1, totally new, then you gently get to know them, through toast and doo-wop. But then, you want to meet that next person, that becoming person, that person who can talk, that person who can walk… well, waddle really… then that person who can run – ‘a person who can run’ – a person who can write, can recite, can name all the colours, all of the animals, all of the countries ever invented. A person who knows all of the words to every Beach Boys song ever written, and probably those that Bryan Wilson is still writing, or was at least.
That little genius.
As we grew up, baby became a little citizen of the world as well, a very righteous little genius. She would snarl at empty crisp packets in the park, and ‘tut tut’ sternly at muddied footsteps in the hallway. She was making friends, although not quite influencing people…apart from one boy who initially wouldn’t share his crayons.
Ed Dove, London