Lessons from my baby daughter #11.
My baby girl is turning into a toddler right before my eyes. Gone are the days when she would cuddle quietly on my shoulder or sleep peacefully on my chest. Gone is that little kitten cry and the way she fit so neatly on one arm. As I say goodbye to those precious times with a tinge of sadness there is an equal amount of excitement in getting to know this wiggly little girl with a cheeky toothy grin and a piercing screech who never stops moving, ever.
Miss L also never stops talking! Most of it is baby babble but I can pick out a mehmeh (Mumma) here and a dah (Dadda) there and a whole string of bubububububs in between. Then, the week before last, she tried out something new. All morning she kept saying ‘cack’ with great emphasis and looking at me expectantly. I tried the linguistic equivalent of a game of I Spy to guess. Cat. Cup. Cuddle. Catch. Car. Apple. Pat. Playmat. Rattle. Duck. Block. Crap. Well, I hope she doesn’t hear me say that last one too often! It wasn’t until mid afternoon at the post lunch change station that Miss L said it again, three times in a row, and clapped her hands to match. CLAP! I shouted with glee and clapped my hands as well. I looked at my girl and she looked at me and I knew that she knew that I knew what she had said. I can’t describe that moment, our first conversation with each other!
It didn’t happen by accident. You see, we had been playing a game of catch the ball that week where I would roll the ball and she would pick it up with the closest hand and chew on it until, well slobbered, she would let it go in whatever direction she felt like. Each time she picked it up I would clap my hands, say clap, clap, clap and good girl. We played ball again that afternoon and sure enough, whenever I forgot the routine her little voice piped up with ‘cack, cack, cack’, her little hands tried to find each other and then she finished with ‘goo girr’.
We adults clap a lot. We clap at concerts, speeches, awards and performances. We clap at sporting events. We clap in time with music. We clap in agreement, approval and enjoyment. We even play prerecorded clapping at periodic intervals during television shows to signal a joke or a cheer. One thing we don’t clap at is ourselves. In Australia, we have a special phrase to describe what happens to people who the rest of us decide are too proud of themselves. Tall Poppy Syndrome. Substitute for ‘too big for your boots’, ‘toot your own horn’ or ‘sing your own praises’. Too many self claps, you see, and the result is that your figurative poppy gets its head neatly mowed off at the uniform level. I’m not sure when we stopped clapping for ourselves, but it seems that once upon a time we all must have begun.
Miss L knows nothing of poppies or horns. She kicks any kind of shoe off her feet and I’m not sure if I would call her sleepy warbling singing just yet but she does her best. What she does do well is recognise her own achievements and congratulate herself accordingly. I still remember the pride on her face the first time she rolled over and I found her on her back. She had been trying that one for three days straight and when she finally got it she knew she did good. Now she has a word for it. ‘Cack’ for rolling over, for finishing her dinner, for splashing and kicking in the pool and for pushing up on her hands and knees. Claps for you baby girl!
At the risk of poking my head too far above the poppy field, I’m taking my cues from my daughter. I’m proud of myself for getting up each morning and making sure Miss L and I are dressed and ready for the day. I’m proud of a freezer full of delicious home-cooked meals for all three of us that I restock each Monday. I’m proud of ticking off my cardio exercises for the last two weeks straight. I’m proud of teaching my girl to love books as much as I do and to laugh as much as her Dadda. I’m proud of our little family for still sticking together in spite of the mountainous challenges we have faced this year. Claps for Mumma!
And claps for you, whoever you are and whatever you have achieved. Go on, give yourself permission.