It’s amazing how good children are at selective imitation. On the one hand, you can demonstrate a hundred times that the shoes must go on the shoe rack, but you’ll still find them lying on your dining table or stuffed into your cupboard. On the other hand, do something that you probably shouldn’t have (in front of your child) and you may as well never leave the house again. Not only would mini-you have picked it up, but they would have perfected your tiny imperfection and will parade it out in public every chance they get, so that everyone is a witness to the tiny flaws you didn’t even realize you had.
Both Mommy and Daddy like to talk a lot, and Baby A refuses to be left behind. In the past few weeks, a lot of the babbling has turned into word formation and she is keen to repeat whatever we say. While ‘hi’, ‘hello’, ‘dirty’, and ‘no’ are a few of her favourites these days, she has also picked up some rather unsavoury terms: ‘shoot’, and perhaps its four-letter first cousin (which, I cannot confirm nor deny). Usually if she can’t say a word, she says her own version of it. ‘Sodies’ (aka sorry) is a very popular term in our house at the moment. Baby A, for example, runs into the door, first apologizes to it with a quick sodies, and then turns around to cry. Happy face is ‘apititoo’ (no idea where that came from) and shower is ‘showaaa’. What she doesn’t say is ‘love’. From the day we found out that I was pregnant, my husband and I have said the phrase, ‘I love you’ several times a day to Baby A. Since she was born, we have begged her daily to repeat the term, but she’s made no effort. Zero. Nada. You won’t even hear her attempt it and get it wrong. She’ll just stare at us and keep her mouth zipped shut. Even when she’s on a roll and she’s repeating every word that we’re saying, ‘love’ ain’t happening. Say any other word and she’s more than willing to repeat it. The day Baby A tells me she loves me, I will climb to the top of the Burj Khalifa and shout out with joy (okay I’m not that daring, but you get the drift).
A few months ago, my husband came down with a terrible flu. He did, what any other God fearing man would do: blow his nose into his handkerchief, within the safe space that is our home. Baby A quickly noted the action, of course. One fine day, I find her just waltzing around at home, armed with one of daddy’s (fresh) handkerchiefs, scrubbing away at her nose. She couldn’t figure out how to blow her nose to make the same sound as daddy, so she was just making the sound from her mouth! It was incredibly hilarious the first time, but very quickly became less so when she was found repeating her little act in front of company. For a whole two weeks, we had to provide Baby A with a fresh supply of handkerchiefs and endure the rather loud and comical sniffling noises that were accompanied by a splatter of spit at anyone within a two feet radius.
I have this terrible habit of using my teeth sometimes to open bottle caps if my hands are busy, which they usually are when Baby A is involved. This, let’s call it ‘art’, was picked up by Baby A somewhat early in her life. She must have been 11 months or so when I had given her a bath and left her in her cot, to run to the toilet. I came back to find her with baby lotion all over herself. She had opened the cap of the lotion tube with her recently sprouted bottom teeth! Unfortunately, Baby A has been unwilling to ‘unlearn’ this little trick. Any bottles mistakenly left within Baby A’s ever expanding reach should be expected back empty. Sigh – I’ve lost count of the number of showers Baby A takes in a week.
While I can laugh away most of Baby A’s silly imitations, there are those instances when I want the ground to burst open and swallow me. The thought often occurs when I’m ordering water for the tenth time in a week, because Baby A throws an unopened bottle into the bin every time she sees me throw an empty one. Then there are the times when I have to cope with the stares. Those dirty looks I get as I’m walking around the mall, drinking coffee, simply because in order for me to actually drink the coffee, my toddler has to be sipping away at an identical cup. So if you spot a really energetic one and a half year-old running around Dubai mall with a (hopefully empty) cup of Starbucks in her hand, that’s going to be mine. No really, the cup is empty. Why would anyone think that I would give caffeine to Baby A? I don’t think she’ll need it even when she’s 30!
I do have to confess that having a child is somewhat like having a gigantic mirror (one of those huge ones that just cover the whole house). This blunt, I-tell-no-white-lies mirror shows you that unpolished side of yourself. You know, the one that you hide even from yourself. I, for one, have definitely stopped scrunching up my nose while showering. My husband has also realized that perhaps he brushes his tongue too vigorously, after watching Baby A nearly choke on her toothbrush while imitating him.
Here’s to new, improved versions of Mommy and Daddy, and to many leaked family secrets in the years to come!