The Amazing Development of Language

Robert is amazing me with his rapidly developing verbal skills. The development is very quick even on the pronunciation side.

A few days ago he pronounced bucket correctly; where he had been calling it bakkie so far (and this is incidentally Afrikaans for bucket). Maybe he is starting to grasp the idea of a final consonant, because he now also calls himself Ah-pet.

The books say that NO is one of the first words a child learns, Robert hasn’t done so yet, but I think he started today. When I asked him whether he wanted his milk he answered : Naaah, I thought the tone of his response indicated that my suggestion was ludicrous.

Robert knows most his body parts. He would point to all of them and say quite a few like : eye, head, neck and recently cheek. In the case of “neck” the actual reference is somewhat confused, because he links it to my necklace and not the actual body part.  Occasionally I still try to call the body parts by their German names, always wondering whether this will confuse him. I sometimes sing to him the very few German lullabys that I know.  While I was putting him to sleep today, he engaged in one of his annoying habits of poking me in the eye while proudly proclaiming “eye”. By coincidence or maybe by association I started singing a German lullaby my mom often sang  to us:

Müde bin ich, geh’ zur Ruh’,
Schließe meine Äuglein zu;
Vater, laß die Augen dein
Über meinem Bette sein!

Translation :

I am tired, now I rest,
I close my small eyes;
Father, let your eyes
Be over my bed!

My singing did not stop the annoying eye-poking from Robert, but in keeping with the verse he was now calling it “Auge”.

Postscript : Turns out that the song I was singing to Robert is actually a German poem by Luise Hensel (1798-1876), who was a religious author and poet.

New Tricks

When Robert’s dad dropped him off yesterday, he said : “Do you know that Robert can now walk if you hold onto his hand?”. I don’t know how he thinks that I would miss something like that when I live with my son 24/7. Meanwhile he gets to see him perhaps once a week, and he misses out on many new things.

Robert loves music and dancing and I took videos of him dancing and bouncing to the music, he relates to rock and rap and to any fast tune with lots of rhythm. Since his visit at W’s he figured out how to play with his stacking rings. During the day he crawls around to every corner of the house discovers what is hidden around corners, inside cupboards, waste baskets, nappy bucket, cat’s food bowl, and garbage. His favourite places are the kitchen and the bathroom. In the kitchen he rummages around Jackie’s cupboard, pulls out pots and pans, and bottles, while in the bathroom he works on the changing table and rearranges the bottles, the jars and the linen. It is very amusing, even though I need to put things back again as soon as he is done.
He isn’t walking yet, but he can move very quickly from place to place if he has something to hold on to. Recently he has started to move alongside walls, he can also pull himself up onto Jackie’s bed, especially when he sees an “abandoned” cell phone or a remote control.

Sometimes I can almost believe that Robert is a very smart child. He imitates me very quickly when I make a smack kissing noise, or a click of a tongue. He also talks all these funny languages and pronounces Arabic, and Xhosa sounding syllables – yes I am delusional. Today after I finished bathing him I took the plug out of the bath and started to put his clothes together before taking him out of the warm water. He saw me doing this and picked up the plug and tried to put it back in the drain. I suppose he did not want to go out of the bath that quickly. Perhaps he is a genius after all.

Random Musings / Taking the Fun out of Blogging

The past few days have been a mixed bag of happy, scary and thought provoking events. On Friday my friend Britt took us to the Aquarium, and she gave me a year’s membership card as a present, which I thought was pretty generous and thoughtful. It is sad to observe that I got to see precious little in my previous life as a married woman. My social life, which was dismal during my marriage years might be even improving. My ex is probably doing better as he hangs out with the DINK crowd ( Double Income No Kids) but I have my own circle of mom friends, and we can all swoon over the latest antics of our little ones.

Aquarium was great, and I hope to spend more time there in the future with Robert. He was very taken with the colourful displays and the movement of fish and other creatures. Our first visit was somewhat rushed because we had to chase the little firebrand Demi around. We then met up with Trish and her two little girls, the younger one is a fresh rosebud, only a couple of weeks young. As much as I would loved to have another baby, I do find mothering two or more children a very challenging job. It is the ultimate multi-tasking feat, and I am not sure I could survive it. So maybe it is just as well that I am not likely to have another child. As mother of one, I had some time to look around and take in my surrounding, something that both my friends weren’t able to do very well. There is also the added advantage of my single status; I do not need to be home to for my husband at a specific time. Even divorce has some perks, I can say.
Robert and I had a quiet evening at home, we had supper and then a warm bath. I must have looked away for a split second after I finished putting on his pijamas and getting him ready for bed, and in that split second he tumbled from the changing table right in front of me. I caught him just before he hit the floor, but I was still petrified that I hurt him. I must have checked on him a dozen times during the night.

Saturday went uneventfully at work, and I came home to a very happy baby, I am so lucky to have Lucy. My phone camera has decided to quit on me so I cannot put any recent pictures of Rob’s latest antics. He loves to do what I call the “bench press”; he stands holding on to the bench by the door and squats up and down, especially to the beat of the music. I have noticed also that his repertoire of sounds and syllables has increased dramatically. He doesn’t stop now at the bland: ma-ma, ba-ba, da-da, but adds on complex and guttural tones, such as ag and ach. His latest vocalizations are: whooping on his indrawn breath, and smacking his lips. Jackie and I aren’t yet sure whether the latter is a kissing noise or just a random noise he newly discovered. I think he will soon master a form of a Xhosa click as well, yes perhaps I am exaggerating on that one.

Apart from losing the visual component of my posts, a few things happened on the weekend which sort of took the fun out of blogging for me. Firstly while reading my blog roll I was referred to this article (Writing about your daughter’s toilet-training misadventures could net you $40,000 a month and a legion of fans) in the . The article discusses -and questions- the latest trend of parent blogging, throwing it into a very unfavourable light. The article portrays parent blogging as an exploitation of children and a violation of their privacy. The article quoted some famous parenting blogs, and among them Don Mills Diva, which I read regularly. It was claimed that some of these bloggers are cashing in on their writing and thus exploiting their children for profit, while violating their privacy. The reaction to the article was even more shocking. Some readers commented that parents who blog must get a life, and concentrate on parenting rather than writing about it, others accused parent bloggers of being sick to write about mundane stuff such as toilet training, reflux, and colic. Readers even questioned the sanity of people who such stuff. I know I am not in the league of any of these famous parent bloggers, but I found myself getting indignant on their behalf. I do consider myself normal, and I love reading bloggers’ musings. I also think that some of these dissenters must get themselves a small dose of compassion and humor.
We write about our small children because we are painfully aware of the vulnerability of our memory against the swift passage of time. My baby is growing and changing every day. As his face and personality develop, there are little bits of him that get lost forever. I want to hold all these little bits and preserve them in little snapshots. When I hold my son today, I hold a robust 9 month-old baby, and my helpless newborn is nowhere in sight. Tomorrow, my little baby will make way for a toddler, who will then turn into a young child. My love for my child will grow and change as he grows, and I want to capture its evolution as well. this is – or was- the purpose of this blog. I don’t understand how anyone will find such an activity reprehensible. That said, I am still disturbed by what I read, and I need to question who this blog is written for. Nine months ago it was for Robert, for me, and for the family. Today it is still for Robert, and for me, and I have to keep that in mind. I am free to write what I want about myself, I can relate incidents that make me look like a fool or like a bad mother. Recently I have been writing things that speak of my anger, resentment and hurt. I have to be careful how my child will interpret this writing one day, because I do not want it to colour his judgment. This is the argument for keeping it bland, sticking to safe subject and understatements, but to me this spells dishonesty and censorship, precisely what a blog shouldn’t be.
People like me read blogs and subscribe to them because they help us relate to our mundane and difficult lives. Honest mothers writing about their post partum depressions, their struggle with toilet training and the urge to scream or shake a small baby after a long colic fit help us put our own struggles and failures into perspective. It makes us feel that we are not alone, we are still normal even when we are almost driven off the bend… This could be the little reassurance we need to keep our sanity. When I read a blog I do not want read a sugar-coated version of reality, I want to see what real people think and feel. Real people have real problems, their living rooms aren’t always tidy, they have gray hair and wrinkles, they deal with shy or autistic children; but the bottom line is that they survive, they love their children and find some sort of happiness. Life on parent blogs is not a Disney movie, but it still works, and this is what I want to know.

I had more days of ambivalent feelings towards my ex. He was looking after Robert on Sunday, and around two in the afternoon I got a call from him, where he said there was a problem. I cannot explain the fear and the dread I got when I heard this phrase, so when I found out that someone broke into the car and stole Robbie’s baby bag I felt some relief. Even though the bag contained things that I won’t be able to replace: The jacket I hand knit while I was pregnant, a vest from Mountain Equipment Coop, and a book from Rob’s auntie. There was also an extra change of winter clothes, a sweat-top, a sippy cup, a sun hat and a few toys. Dad did what he could and replaced the essentials (the milk bottle and the sippy cup). Now I have to try and replace the rest. I don’t know how this is possible since I am restricted to walking distances.

My ex apparently also wrote to my family, explaining everything and nothing. Now I am in the unenviable position of being judged and reproved by my own family, as they analyze the mistakes that I must have made in the relationship. I might have made some mistakes, but I wasn’t given the chance to correct them in a professional manner. My ex was never interested in counseling. I am damaged goods now, I believe that marriage is completely overrated and I doubt that I will ever be in another relationship. The only hope I have is to protect my son from this conflict, to let him grow unbridled by my feelings of inadequacy and resentment. I still think that moving away from my ex is the best solution. Maybe then I can have some charitable thoughts about him.

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Seven Months: Moving Quickly

I forgot to take pictures for Robert’s seventh month birthday. A lot of stress is going on in our lives at the moment and that is why it is hard to keep track of simple pleasurable things. However, I am still very aware of the time we spend together and how we spend it. I try not to communicate my negative feelings to the little one, and I put on a happy face when I am around him. Robert does his magic to my act and after some minutes in his company I feel genuinely happy and so blessed. No matter what else happens, I have him to love for the rest of my life.

This month Robert has become mobile. He is crawling all around and covering a lot of ground with increasing speed. I took some pictures of him wearing a small baby jacket I crocheted for baby Olivia, who was finally born on the 26th of March. One can tell that he is not overly impressed with wearing pink.

He is finally starting to utter da da da, and sometimes tha tha. I note, though, that he still has a marked preference for ma ma ma. Last week Ron had the late babysitting shift, and told me that the baby was whiny, complaining a lot, and calling ma ma ma. Obviously he had some stomach ailment characterized by frequent spit up and general indisposition. The food couldn’t have caused such a problem, and my only explanation is that he is now exposed to a wider variety of germs, tramping around on the floor, whether here in our flat or at Jackie’s place. Of course, the endless teething can still be the root of all trouble. I can feel the outline of the two little bottom incisors but they haven’t put in an appearance yet. It seems unlikely now that they will show up before the end of the month.

Another interesting development is Robert’s new-found ability to pull himself up to a standing position. This can happen anywhere but mostly in the cot. It follows that it is more difficult to keep him lying down when he doesn’t want to sleep. Because he pulls himself up to a standing position and continues to complain until somebody comes to the rescue. One morning I was waiting in vain for his cries to subside, and decided to check on him. I was surprised to find him holding on to the cot’s edge and complaining. It was the first time I saw this happen, so I burst out laughing at the funny pictures. Robert did not think it was funny at all, and started crying with bitterness and hurt feelings.

Miriam has gone AWOL. I think that she has finally found an office job, and frankly she is more than capable for a regular job, and overqualified as a nanny. Pity, because I really liked her and Robert did too. But I had a feeling throughout our acquaintance that she wasn’t really interested. I have to trust my instincts more, they are usually very accurate. Now I have some complex arrangement to look after Robert and they will probably work out for a few weeks in our new and evolving circumstances.

I am starting to take more pictures of Robert in the park. The nannies love him and often carry him and play with him. I am also starting to get more involved in our play together at the park. He enjoys being on the swing and crawling around on the grass.



Finally, here are some funny pictures of my little boy:

Standing in his crib and razzing with great concentration

A somewhat glum expression

Crawling into small spaces.

Reaching up for trouble.

Since he is capable of all this, I have removed the bassinet from the crib, and he now sleeps on the lowest level, and cannot possibly jump or lean out.