Zane now has a brother, baby Beau, another beautiful boy delivered in a beautiful birth. And he was so small!! Holding Beau in my hands for the first time made me think he was undercooked.
It was because I’d not really realised how much Zane has grown. In my head he was still our little one, but Beau put into perspective how much Zane has sprouted in 21 months. His growth and development has been gradual so that I’d not really taken stock the sum total of all the little changes that happen every day; it was a bit like seeing a photo of yourself many years ago and wondering how the hell you thought you looked good with that hair-do.
The size difference was the biggest surprise for me. Holding our new pink, delicate little baby carefully and effortlessly in my hands was a complete contrast to the exertion required to hoist Zane onto my shoulder like a pirate’s monkey.
But physical size was not the only vast difference between the boys. It might seem obvious but it dawned on me that not long ago Zane couldn’t walk, talk, feed himself or play Crazy Birds on the iPhone.
Our newborn is completely helpless and knows only one way of communicating. He screams when he is hungry, while Zane can open the fridge and ask the demanding question: “Eat?!” Beau bawls when he wants more food; Zane holds his bowl aloft and asks: “More custard?” Beau cries out for comfort, whereas Zane will cling onto my leg like a barnacle and plead for the TV to be turned on.
Dressing Beau is like trying to keep the legs of an octopus in a string bag. Zane is able to fetch a hat and shoes to put on and then pose in front of the mirror.
Changing Beau’s nappy is like a game of Russian roulette – I’ll never know where I’ll be shot or what colour my T-shirt will become, although given his immobility the damage is limited to a rather small radius around the change table. In the delicate slither of time that Zane is naked after a bath he will streak about the house and find a well-travelled part of the floor to piss on that I’ll only notice after sploshing my foot in it.
Every new born has a personality, but what is it? A parent looks for what it might be or might become: there are clues to it in their barely open eyes, their little contented squeaks, or maybe in the way they keep drinking until the milk comes out of their nose.
A toddler’s personality challenges you every day. Zane will carefully touch something that he knows he is not supposed to touch and firmly announce to us “Don’t touch!” in an action that is at once insolent, defiant and technically correct. Cheeky bugger.
With Beau I’ve no need to worry about our bad habits being copied. Yet. It’ll be months before he will start to look at what we do and how we do it and try his hardest to do it in exactly the same way.
You need to be on high alert with a toddler. DEFCON 5. They will take note of you most when you think they aren’t watching or when you are doing something you’ve told them not to.
For example, I was floor tiling one night after Zane had gone to bed. He should have been asleep at the time. Anyhow, I made an incredibly annoying mistake that evoked a thunderous string of frustrated expletives. I then quietly sat as I pondered how I was going to fix my stuff-up.
A gentle and slightly concerned voice questioned me from a dark room nearby: “Daddy?”
“Yes, boy. It’s alright. Go to sleep.”
Silent moments; Zane seemed reassured. And then in a gentle, innocent and very matter-of-fact manner he beautifully enunciated the word: “Fuck”.