18 months. It’s quite an iconic age, isn’t it? And like an 18th birthday, we seemed to have crossed over to some sort of new life. A sense of growing up. A right to vote. In everything she wants.
I’ve documented the gradual changes we’ve been watching each month; the climbing and walking ability, the attempt at language, her independence and personality developing. But it’s all come a bit fast. I really feel like our baby went to sleep and woke up a little girl. And there’s part of me that feels sad about it.
The communication is through the roof. She now has proper words and knows how to use them. ‘All gone,’ is by far her favourite. She says it with food all over her, palms held out and a surprised expression on her face. ‘All gone.’ On Saturday night, as she battled the arrival of a molar and an eye tooth, high temperature raging and spit pooling in her throat, the soft dulcet tones of ‘all gone’ drifted through the monitor. She was talking in her sleep, using the only words she has.
She does have another word that convinces me she will be in pursuit of all things stereotypical male, and that’s ‘goal!’ She screams it anytime football comes on the telly, something her proud Daddy says she learned through their long hours tucked up together watching Match of the Day.
We call her ‘the socialista’. She’s taken to waving, a bit like the Queen. When she arrives into a shop, she announces herself, saying ‘Hi’ and catching everyone’s eye. The effect is universal. Anyone who is on the receiving end of a personal wave from an 18 month old pig tailed girl, will break out in a smile and immediately say, ‘she’s so cute’. And she is.
Today, as we left our local shop, we walked by a group of teens, sitting like teenagers do, hanging out, not up to much. She walked up and waved, her eye on only one thing: the white football the young lad had his foot on. She held his gaze after the ‘wave capture’ and walked right up and kicked the ball. As we walked away, she clutching my hand, gently humming to herself and munching on a Milkybar, I could hear the group of 15 year olds discussing how cute she was. It’s a proud moment when your baby can bring a group of squirming males to have a conversation about the positives of parenting.
The walk to the shop, buggy free, felt like a milestone today. We’ve found that she hugely enjoys getting out and having the freedom to run and run. It makes me notice how many hours she spends cooped up in our small house, telly on. So on Wednesdays and at weekends, we make a special effort to get out, to get some fresh air. I picked up a Regatta all in one suit in our local St Vincent de Paul shop for €3. I’m delighted because it gives us more freedom, to go out, even on wet days.
She loves other kids. She almost pees herself when she sees them. She does a little dance, runs right up to them and waves in their face. She might go in for a hug too, but we’ve seen her stall and do the ‘will I, won’t I’ a few times and I think; 18 months and she’s already wondering about social etiquette.
I’m surprised at her affection. She will throw her arms around us and cling on for dear life. She’ll plant smackers on our cheeks and sit on top of us, watching TV. I love it, because as a baby, it was all a bit wooden. Now we’re getting the rewards, the love surges, the cuteness.
The tantrums are regular. Now, if you take anything off her roughly or don’t let her do what she wants, she immediately screams and cries. Distraction is our weapon, but I also sometimes come down to her level to try to find out what she wants. Sometimes I just have to lead her back into the kitchen and retrieve juice or a piece of bread and I think, how awful it must be not to be able to properly communicate.
She’a fan of fake laughing. If we are laughing around her, or sharing a joke she will join in; HA HA HA. We look at her and laugh even harder. ‘She’s gas’ is our favourite phrase.
Last month my update was an outpouring of overwhelmness and short, as I was too shattered to write properly. I felt snowed under, after a series of night wakenings and a house that seemed to have gotten out of control. This month things are much better. We’re communicating better as a couple, and the extra bits of help seemed to have freed me up completely. When the house isn’t too messy to start with, it’s not such a big task to clean it. So, often I get the housework done in the first hour of getting up and we can do other things with the day. (Like eat chocolate and sit on the sofa).
I can’t help but think of the future, about expanding our family*. Even six months ago, I wouldn’t have thought she would have come on so much by now. The quiet periods where she sits on the sofa, content. The steadiness as she stands at the table and feeds herself. Her ability to walk to the shop and back, grasping my hand, buggy redundant.
It’s a lot more fun and it’s a lot more relaxing. Sure why wouldn’t you want another one?
*Disclaimer – there are no plans, I’m just saying.
Things she did this month
*Learned how to open doors. She is not safe in a room anymore. She can wander round the house with freedom. And we are freezing with the draughts.
*Got hold of a black marker and put it on her lips so that resembled a one and half year old goth for an afternoon
*Takes the car keys to play with and hide them
*Ate and wore seven of my lipsticks
*Decided she is past the point of needing an adult to feed her. Try and you will face her wrath. (And her food bowl all over your face. She’s an independent