I can no longer relax. I’ve suddenly noticed that – whenever I am eating – I am being watched. And not just with a passing interest; Zane was intensely following every fork-load of food that I consumed, closely observing the content and progression of my meal, chewing air and drooling every time I put something in my mouth. My every meal-time move was being monitored.
Then one day, as he sat on my lap, watching an apple repeatedly pass over his head as I took a bite out of it, he attacked the core with such vigour that I was caught by surprise: he grabbed it with both hands, pulled it to his mouth, planted his two teeth into it and sucked, covering it in dribble as he did so (rendering it inedible for anyone but Zane). It was like something off a wildlife documentary: a lizard waiting for prey to come within reach before ensnaring it with lightning reflexes, although a lizard doesn’t possess a saliva tsunami weapon with which to drown its prey.
It didn’t stop at the apple. Zane has attacked other foods with a zeal that is rather frightening in a person who can’t even sit up without support. We gave Zane an egg: a whole, peeled boiled egg to see what he would do with it. He tore it apart and ate it all, as though he had done it many times before. That, we were impressed with. We began giving him all types of food. Couscous we weren’t so impressed with: little of it made it into his mouth, and he seemed intent on spreading it as far and as wide as he could. I think I spent the following hour cleaning couscous from Zane, his clothes and from all the furniture in view.
Zane will now smile in front of the camera. It seems to be one of the first things he has copied from us, and obviously finds it important to look good in all photos. However, he will smile whenever I have a camera in my hand, regardless of whether I am pointing it at him, or even if I am not actually taking a photo. Actually, he will smile for any small electronic device I have in my hand. I’ll pick up my phone to make a call, and Zane will look at it with a manic grin on his face, his eyes squinting with the effort of producing the most dazzling smile he can. I could probably hold a can opener up and he would grin at it. And that’s not all: he will smile at a camera irrespective of his mood. I had Zane in the baby carrier on my chest with him facing outward as we were on a hike, and he was very unhappy. He’d been bawling incessantly for 15 minutes, and I’d tried everything to settle him, without luck. I gave up and just kept walking, and at one point I took out the camera to take a picture of some lovely vista. Zane stopped crying. I thought, “What the...?” I couldn’t see his face, and I suspected the camera to be the cause. I turned the camera around, took a picture of his face and looked at the result: it was a big cheesy smile in a face soaked with tears. I put the camera away and the crying resumed.
He Does Like Us!
Zane has learnt how to be affectionate. He always receives kisses and hugs from us, but now he has learnt how to return them, to give us some reassurance that he really does like us. Or maybe it’s a ploy to get food, we’re not sure. Anyhow, it’s beautiful to see: when Jas picks him up, he’ll wrap his arms around her neck (well, about a third the way around), and kiss her on the cheek. I use the term “kiss” very loosely, as it involves Zane opening his mouth wide and sucking Jas’ cheek whilst dribbling copiously. I’ve never seen something so touching that requires a mop to clean up afterwards.
With me, he is a little more aggressive. When my head is close, he’ll grab a handful of hair from each side of my head, firmly pull me close and then cheerfully bite my nose. The meaning in this action is indeed questionable, but I like to think it’s an act of fondness.
When you become a dad, you start to become proud of simpler things than you might previously have done. As well as getting satisfaction at, say, your own sporting achievements or a promotion at work, you well up at milestones that might seem innocuous to others, but are significant in your child’s development. One such event occurred when Zane woke up recently: he had his very first bed hair! His little blonde fronds had grown long enough to get messed up in his sleep. He woke up and as he looked at me, he had clearly looked like he had been in dreamland for some time, with a clump of hair askew on top of his head. It was a beautiful sight.
Zane recently discovered his hands, and spent a lot of time holding them out in front of him, waving them about, doing little royal waves, seeing the shapes he could create with his wrist and fingers and trying to use them to pick things up. He has now found his feet! They are considerably further away, however that doesn’t stop him grabbing them, shaking them about and pulling them up to his head, just to show off. And it doesn’t stop there: he likes to suck on his toes. I’m very happy that he can’t walk yet, as I’m sure I’d be forever pulling his grubby feet from between his lips.
An ability that I’m not particularly overjoyed about is that Zane seems to be able to project his puke into rather unfortunate locations on demand. The most memorable, yet forgettable, of these was when we were in a rather nice hotel bar overlooking a lake with well-to-do patrons all about. I had Zane sitting on my lap, with one of my legs crossed over the other, so the “cuff” of my shorts was angled slightly upwards. Zane had the apparent need to vomit a copious amount of warm fluid up the leg of my shorts. Barely a drop hit the floor or the chair; pretty much all of it made its way to the top of my shorts – on the inside. It generated a large and unfortunately obvious wet patch from my right buttock all the way down the inside leg. I had to leave immediately, as inconspicuously as I could, though it is difficult to walk normally in those conditions.