“Congrats dearie. Uncleeeee Franque raise to d power of…. I’ve lost count.”
That was how I learnt of her birth eight months ago. It is amazing how swiftly time seems to have passed.
Mama has a saying “na for belle pikin dey tey”, and as I watched Abidemi crawl for the first time, I, once again, agree with that sentiment.
For her first four months, Abidemi had the sweetest disposition and a healthy dose of curiosity. She would look left and right as if trying to take in everything around her. Her favourite things to look at were fans. She would tilt her head back and look up at the ceiling fans in the house. Oscillating or not, it did not matter to Abidemi as she stared in wide-eyed wonder at them.
When she turned four months, she seemed to become aware of her strength. Lying in bed, she would struggle to sit up, stretching her legs stiffly in front of her. ‘Grrrrrr… Grrrrr..’ She would go, and then she would rest for a minute or two before resuming her efforts, sweat beading her forehead. At those times, I would let her take both my index fingers in her two tiny hands, then I would count “1, 2, 3″ before lifting her up to a sitting position.
Flesh worried that her daughter’s waist was not strong enough for that, so I kept it under one minute each time before doing the count in reverse “3, 2, 1″ and placing her back to start position. Oh would she kick! She would kick and kick and stretch as if protesting the injustice of it all.
Every morning she would lie in bed with her mom and watch Sound of Music over and over. By the time she was six months old, she could sit quietly through most of it, gazing at the laptop screen as if she was following the plot and dialogue! Sometimes, I actually expect her lips to part and “Doe a deer, a female deer” would come forth.
From the moment she could hold herself up in a sitting position, Abidemi wanted to stand! “Madam get this sitting down right first,” I would say to her; she still had her curiosity issues and so wound up toppling over backwards from trying to look up most times.
I cannot say at what age she discovered her voice box, I just know that I was woken up one morning by her ‘Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh’, and from that moment, our mornings have followed the same pattern: Abidemi awake at 3am or 4am belting out a string of ahhhs enough to wake the dead.
One morning, I woke up and something was different. It took minutes before I realised Abidemi was quiet. Curious, I went to investigate. She had come down with a fever the night before. Flesh took her to see the doctor while I went out on my own jaunt. I returned the next morning to see a tired looking Flesh and a defiant Abidemi sizing each other up. She would not take her meds. I offered to help and encountered the full strength of her will.
She would take the medicine after much struggling – it did not matter which – and hold it in her mouth for as without swallowing. Then would remain in this position and wait us all out, even if she was crying. Any attempt at making her swallow always resulted in the medicine ending up all over the place, her clothes and the face of her ‘tormentor’. After a few days of this drama, Mama was called in; maybe our 21st century way was not cutting it for Abidemi.
Mama came over for three days, three days in which Flesh had to develop a song and dance routine. Mama’s methods did not yield much fruit either. A bed for two nights at the hospital with a regimen of intravenous cocktails helped Abidemi get better, and Flesh got a few more minutes of rest; just a few minutes.
It is safe to assume it gets easier as they get older. It is wrong to assume it gets easier as they get older.
Seeing that she was the habit of slapping things about, I bought her an activity table. The flashing lights and various sounds hold her attention until they don’t anymore, and then she would go for her mom’s laptop. The other day she finally slapped the laptop around until the laptop, bruised and battered, jumped off the bed in a suicide attempt. It will be getting a new screen for its effort.
Introducing semi solids may yet be the most difficult part of her growing up. She would not eat cerelac, she would not drink pap; she would not chew more than the smallest piece of bread, nor would she drink enough water to justify her sippy cup. All she seemed to want was breast milk, and breast milk on her own terms – sitting down. No more lying in the crook of her mom’s arms for her, she would sit on a knee and suck whether Flesh was comfortable or not. And the sucking lasted until someone said something around her; she would pop her head up and look around in search of the owner of the voice, her feeding forgotten. Two weeks ago Jigga came home with some bottles marked Cow & Gate, and we learnt something else about Abidemi: she has a sweet tooth, only the fruit and yoghurt purees get eaten, the savoury meals end up in the bin. Now she eats better, Flesh has to do a song and dance routine though, and the whole place looks like a battlefield in the end, like seven ravernous children were fed there instead of one.
For some days now I have watched her try to crawl. She would sit there and contemplate getting on all fours before trying. Sometimes, she would succeed in getting on three limbs, the fourth caught underneath her, before returning to her sitting position; other times she would succeed in ending up flat on her stomach, her face close to the ground, her tongue sticking out as if to taste the carpet. She was making progress and we all rooted for her, encouraged her, rewarded her: I would blow raspberries with her, Flesh would tickle her chin and make her giggle and laugh, and her uncle Jigga would toss her in the air.
Yesterday, she finally moved. Her first few steps were tentative, then she sat back down. Again she went on all fours, looked round at our faces searching for – I don’t know what – lifted her right hand off the carpet moved it a few inches forward before placing it back on the carpet, her left leg moved forward too. She repeated this with her left hand and right leg, then she stopped. Poised there on all fours, the fading evening light catching the hairs across her shoulder, the recent heatwave would not let her be clothed in more than diaper, she looked so adorable. Abidemi gurgled at her mom before crawling a few more steps.
That was yesterday. Today, she has grown in confidence, purpose and speed. I have had to wrestle the power pack for Helena (my other laptop), D’Artagnan (my PS3 pad), and Faruk (my BB) from her. I have also had to pull her back up from several attempts to taste the carpet. Flesh has pulled her back from the door, pulled her off the table fan, and struggled to hold her in place while she fed her. Abidemi does not like the bedroom anymore, the bed is too restrictive it seems. Her new favourite haunt is the parlour with its yards and yards of space. More than that, is the scores and scores of ‘toys’. She is like a magpie, drawn to shiny stuff!
She has only been crawling for two days, but already I have asked her mother more than twice “Flesh, when u dey buy leash for her?”
PS: M.O.N.C is relishing his role of senior brother. He is at that stage where every child is ‘baby’ to him, and silence isn’t so golden. If he is quiet and is not asleep, I fear for what mischief he is cooking up – there is always a new one.
He has discovered remote controls and enjoys messing with the tv, DVD player and the game console.
The house is awfully quiet. I cannot believe that between them, Abidemi and M.O.N.C have let me finish writing this.
Awfully quiet. Shoot! Gotta go…
"Franque is in aviation, which by the way is not his job, just a lifestyle. If he ever kept a diary it would read like his articles will. Unfortunately he doesn't. Scratch that. He didn't.AIRtiquette is a walk in his shoes. Since regular isn't in his vocabulary, brace yourself for a bit of airwalking!" Follow @franque_521 on twitter.