I am in the bathroom. A child sits in the bath splashing around and looking at the aquatic wonderland they have found themselves in. An empty bottle which once held bubble bath floats in the water. We are playing, the baby chews on the bottle and let’s it go bobbing off into the distance. I snatch it up and blow across the top of the bottle making a deep low whistling noise. I’m accomplished at making noise this way, I played the flute for a while. The baby stares at me making the noise in a kind of disbelieving wonder. My aspiration ceases and so does the sound.
The baby keeps staring, now with an air of expectation. I know this game. I hand the bottle back to the baby and they place on their lips in it as they stare at me. They voice a tiny sound into the bottle. A meek “Aaaaah”. The whole time those enormous baby globes stare deeply into mine. The sound ends then there is waiting. Anticipating. Expecting. Needing.
Their head is tilted forward so their eyes look slightly upwards as their intense gaze burrows into my soul. It shrinks the child, or maybe it enlarges me. It makes me aware of how tiny and vulnerable they are.
I know immediately what I need to do. “Well done!” I say in that universal high-pitched tone of parental praise. The bottle is handed back to me and I do it again. And again. And again.
It doesn’t matter which baby it is in this story. The Lad or The Lass, the ritual is (and was) the same. Yesterday it was The Lass’s turn, her brother didn’t need a bath as he had a shower after a swim with The Mamanator. It was just my girl and I.
“I’ve done this before. you know. I did it with your brother when he was small, same game, same rules that we improvised together, same look in different eyes.”
Odd they way they are so different. Odd the way they are so much alike. Odd the fact that it’s the second time doesn’t matter. Odd the way the fact that it’s the second time means everything.
Today she stood up and let go, and balanced herself, held up on her own legs. She stayed up for about 5 seconds before falling on her bum as she beamed a smile out across the room she’d done it. She’d cracked another code, unlocked another secret, taken another step towards independence. It is only a matter of time before she stands. Then she will walk. The she will run. Like her brother.
It doesn’t have the feel of doing all over again, just a kind of familiarity. An eerie sense that you’ve experienced it before, but you can’t quite pin it down. A sense not of repetition or of monotony, just of déjà vu.
With plenty of surprises along the way…