My Twelfth Month

Cake

I’m one year old! On the day I turned one, I had cake. A round, fat one. Mum put it on the table in front of me, and I gazed at it in wonder. It looked more delicious than banana ice cream. It seemed only suitable to delve my fingers into it to get a big hunk of it into my mouth. But then mum set fire to it! I thought a tragedy of Titanic proportions was about to unfold. Much to my relief, someone nearby took a deep breath and sharply blew it out; I was about to take a deep breath in order to voice my distress.

So I finally got a piece of bliss. It tasted so wonderful it was like there was a party in my mouth. And there was a bit of a party on my cheeks and down my front as well – I was a little impatient after the first mouthful. And then a few seconds later, it was all gone. Dad gave me a little more, but it disappeared quicker than the first piece. Why can’t things like this last longer? And dad said I’ll have to wait another year to get more! What am I supposed to do until then?!

Cosmos travel

We have a spaceship in our house. It sits in a little room and tries taking off once in a while. It is a silver capsule inside a white box. It isn’t very streamlined, like a rocket, so I find it hard to believe that it actually gets off the ground. It is also plugged into the wall, so if it managed to get airborne, I don’t know how it travels very far.

But I think it does go somewhere. Mum puts stuff inside it and then it starts spinning; when I have a look later on, it’s empty. When the spaceship is quiet and still, I open the round door and take a look at the inside, and all I can find are lots of little holes. I once put a toy in there; when I looked later on, it was gone! Some space monkey on the moon now has company.

Three-wheeling

I have a bike. It’s red and blue and yellow and I love it. Dad puts on my hat, straps me to my bike seat while I grab the handlebars. I look very cool. I ride around the neighbourhood, up and down different streets, to and from the shops, and past outdoor cafes where all the girls smile at me. Dad cramps my style a bit though; he always follows behind, wearing daggy shorts, holding a handle at the back as I pull him around. 

Baby steps

Walking: so there is appeal to it. I try it once in a while, and I think it holds some promise as a means of travel. The only downside is that I’ve further to fall, which seems to happen quite a bit at the moment. I’ve decided I’m going to give up crawling once I can make my feet work properly - they seem to get in the way rather than keep me upright. But once I’ve mastered it, I reckon I’ll be able to move more quickly so it’ll be easier to follow mum and dad around the house. 

And I’ll be able to cover more ground in my quest to find cake.

My Tenth Month

I can stand now! But I don’t gain a lot of height from my sitting position; everything is still so high, so much taller than me. While I get an excellent view of the ground and often pick up bits that mum and dad miss in their cleaning, I spend most of the day looking skyward, trying to keep track of what mum and dad are doing. I guess it’s like sightseeing in New York. When I’m on the floor it’s impossible to see what food I can take from mum and dad’s dinner. I need a periscope, or mirrors on the ceiling. I like the Japanese way: they eat on the floor to be considerate to their little children, giving them full access to what’s dished up at adult meal times.

My elevated position now gives me full access to the interesting things people have on coffee tables, and in drawers and cupboards. It’s a whole new world. Remote controls! Coasters! Saucepans! TUPPERWARE! I don’t know why it’s all hidden away. It’s a toyfest. I get it all out on the floor to give me more things to play with. But the next day it’s all gone, back to where I dragged it from, back in their cupboards and on their coffee tables. I think we have elves.
 
Dad is keen for me to walk. What’s the rush? I’ve tried taking the odd step, but it’s so slow. Why walk on two limbs when four is faster? My Turbo Crawl gets me about nicely - I crawl so fast that strangers can’t believe it! My arms and legs are a blur. Move over Spiderman. It does get a little tough on the knees and hands though; I get mild burns from the friction of speeding about on all fours. It’s a good thing mum and dad don’t put trousers on me, otherwise I’d burn holes in them!

My Ninth Month

I used to get annoyed at mum and dad when they left me alone in a room. They would typically just get up and walk elsewhere without taking me with them, knowing full well that I couldn’t follow them. Ha ha, well now I can! I can crawl and I can follow them anywhere, provided there isn’t anything more than a foot tall in my way! If they go into the kitchen, I can supervise the creation of my meals. If mum goes into the laundry to do stuff with a pile of clothes I can go in and help her spread them about on the floor, though she doesn’t always seem to appreciate it. Often they forget that I can crawl and that I can follow them, and I’ve found out some of the secret places that they never take me to. One place is a little room with a shiny white chair that they sit on. They just sit there, sometimes for ages, and when they see me they ask me to go, but when I don’t move they can’t seem to stand up and take me out because their bum is stuck on the seat. I don’t know why it’s secret; it’s a bit boring and I don’t bother following them in there anymore. I’d rather find bits on the floor to eat.

I’ve always relied on mum or dad to give me my meals. I always have to wait for my dinner to be prepared: I wait for them to take stuff out of the fridge, to cook it, and then after they’ve heated it to a scalding temperature, they blow on it to cool it down. What is that about? They could just give it to me straight in the first place.

Anyway...we started to go to the beach, and it was there that I realised that I could eat whenever I wanted. Beaches are covered in sand! They look so delicious, and they feel so soft and warm to sit on. I can just run my hands through the soft grains and grab handfuls of the stuff and put it in my mouth. There is always so much of it, I could just sit and eat it all and experience the gritty seafood taste. But there is a problem, as usual: mum and dad. They won’t let me eat it. I can rub my toes in it, roll about in the soft stuff, even cup it in my hands, but as soon as I bring it near my mouth, they push my hands away. Being a baby can be so frustrating.   
 
I’ve discovered something new about myself. My nappy is changed regularly, and it’s always a relief to have it done, as it always seems to be full of smelly stuff. One day I thought I’d try and help, and I put my hands down to try and grab some nappy, but there was something else that I seized instead. It was attached to me, and it was very peculiar. It felt like a pencil poking out of a little crinkly bag of sultanas. I’ve no idea what it’s there for; I guess it likes it where it is dark and warm.

My Eighth Month

I’ve discovered buffets! They are marvellous. At a regular restaurant a person in uniform brings a plate, maybe two plates, of food. And that’s it for the meal. At a buffet, the food never stops! I would finish a piece of melon, and dad would get up and return moments later with pineapple. Once that was gone, he’d go again, returning with chicken. And then there’d be bread. Then pork. And then pasta and rice. It went on and on. It was bliss. I wished we never left. I wanted to live there.

Everything looks like food to me now. Dad looks like a few sticks of celery held together by a potato and topped with linguine. Mum looks much the same, with the addition of a couple of pieces of fruit up front. I see a house and it looks like the one in the Hansel and Gretel story. Bicycles look like two pizzas connected with sausages. Cars: toast supported by a couple of biscuits. Buses look like a sausage roll supported by bigger biscuits. Road signs look like lollipops. The road is a long smudge of vegemite. Trees are big bits of broccoli. Pigeons look like chicken. Chickens look like chicken. Hmmm...where’s my lunch...
 
I thought I controlled everything. When I wanted food, it came to me. When my trousers needed changing, mum and dad would change them. When I was dirty, I was bathed. When I wanted to play, mum or dad would play with me. When I looked at someone, they’d smile. I just had to think about something and it just happened. But I’ve noticed that this is not always the case now. When I let go of something from my high-chair, I’ve noticed that it falls to the ground. And it stays there. I’ll look at it and look at it and look at it really hard, and it doesn’t move. Occasionally mum or dad will pick it up but gravity does not seem to be in my power at all. What is going on?

My Seventh Month

I’m in heaven. Suddenly it feels like my belly can hold everything that I want to eat. It has been holding me back, preventing me from finishing everything in my little colourful bowl, only letting me munch on a few pieces of food before it felt like it was coming out of my ears and I had to stop. Then one day, it seems like I woke up with a new stomach, a new model, a pick-up truck that had replaced a shopping trolley. It was a wonderful shock to realise that I could rake so much food into my mouth before my body shouted “enough”! It was a few days after I turned six months old that – in one day - I ate some Weetbix, yoghurt, grapes, pear, an egg, some tuna, some sweet potato, a piece of pepper, mushrooms and a bit of pork. Dad was laughing at the big smile on my face. Or maybe it was at all the food that was on my face, it was hard to say.

I love steak. It’s the best food to suck on. I would eat it if it was possible, but trying to bite through meat with my gums and two little teeth is like trying to dig a hole in the ground with a pencil. I had the steak in Yellowstone National Park, and we went on a long wagon ride to a “cookout” where there was lots of food, including piles of delicious steak. It was a fun day, but it would be good if you didn’t have to travel by horse and cart whenever you wanted steak.

I’ve discovered nature’s sweets: fruit! When I had some grapes, peaches and nectarines, I couldn’t believe there could be anything so sweet and juicy all wrapped nicely in edible skins. And how do they get wrapped in them so tightly without any string or sticky tape or air caught inside?

I’m starting to understand what “gravity” is. If you are in the wrong place at the wrong time, it isn’t very healthy for you. Dad was pushing me in my little chariot one day, and – because I can sit up now by myself - I was sitting forward trying to get a better look at everything and make sure that dad was going in the right direction. Sadly for me, he didn’t at one point as he hit a bump in the road and my chariot jolted forward. With me being in my forward-leaning position, I became airborne and, according to the disappointing rules of gravity, I eventually travelled downwards. Regrettably, my head was leading the way and it was first to make contact with the dirt, followed quickly with the rest of me. What was even more inopportune was that dad didn’t immediately realise that I had left my chariot and continued pushing it along until the front wheel struck the side of my head that had remained unscathed in my landing. Needless to say my response was not a pretty one, though afterwards I thought I looked rather rugged with the scratches on my head.

It seems I’ve been punished for being flung out of my chariot. I can’t sit up in it anymore! Every time we go somewhere, dad straps me in, restraining me so I can barely move. What is the point of having your own chariot if you can’t clearly survey everything that goes on about you?
 
Only days later I had another untoward meeting with gravity: I fell out of bed. I was doing what I always do when on a flat surface – roll about until I can’t roll any more – when again, I found myself with a few moments of having nothing supporting my little body until it met the floor. At such times, as a baby, it is a distinct disadvantage having a head as big and heavy as a melon attached to a body a bit like a rag doll: when unplanned plunges occur, it is head that goes first and, rather undesirably, becomes the bit that breaks the fall for the rest of me. Again, I blame my parents for this incident; they normally catch me when my wobbly torso begins travelling in an unplanned direction, and have thus lulled me into a false sense of security when I am trying to explore my surrounds. Although now it’s quite fun to travel on the edge of high surfaces; mum runs very fast to prevent my impending descent. I’d not seen her run before!

My Sixth Month

Mum and dad finally get it: I want to try their food! I had to take the first bit by stealth, grabbing dad’s apple when it came within reach. Since then I’ve tried lots of different things, and it’s a taste explosion. Mum’s milk is nice with all the flavours of stuff she eats, but eating real food is like, well, not having milk with everything. And I can see where all the flavours come from: apple is firm and sweet and easy for me to pick up; peach is nice and juicy but squishy between my fingers; peppers come in bright colours and are crunchy when I bite into them; egg is awesome, as it has a shiny outside with an orange surprise in the middle. Chicken I like! It doesn’t fall apart when I chew on it. And couscous: I’m not sure what the point of couscous is. I got frustrated trying to pick up the tiny balls and just threw them about. I can’t see how they’d fill me up anyway! It’s clearly not a food; couscous is a toy.


We are always being followed. Wherever we walk, shapes are behind us, on the ground, clinging to our feet. Mum and dad don’t seem to notice them; surely they must feel them attached to their shoes? Dad always wonders why I look at the ground. But they are always there. Where do they come from, under the ground? They are very good at keeping the same shape wherever we walk, whether it is on a path or on grass. I wonder if they would still be there if we walked through water.

Some people are just funny. I meet a lot of new people when we visit new places, and people always look at me, smile and say hello. For most I will smile back (grown-ups love this!) but some just make me laugh, or make me cackle uncontrollably in some cases. The cackle-cases are often from someone’s voice, a strange or funny type that I haven’t heard before. A man simply said hello to me in a shop once and I burst out laughing. Then he laughed, which made me laugh some more, because his voice was even funnier when it laughed. Then mum laughed, and everyone in the shop stopped shopping to laugh at me laughing at the laughing man. I laughed even more since everyone was laughing and having a thoroughly jolly time. It all got a bit out of hand and there was no end to the laughter; in the end mum had to take me out of the shop before there were any hilarity-induced injuries.

My Fifth Month

I do like mum’s milk, really I do, but I sometimes get bored with the view! Mum gets angry when I keep pulling off the boob to look behind me and see what is going on, especially when dad might be doing something interesting, but I would like a view of something more than an armpit when I eat. I can multi-task now, you know! And mum also gets a bit frustrated when I play with her face or hair when I feed, but I don’t have much else to do. I could have my free arm just hang behind me but it feels a bit uncomfortable when it is stuck in the one position. It feels much better to have it moving about, doing something productive, like pulling hair or grabbing teeth.

Mum and dad don’t really confer with me on certain things. Many of their decisions don’t really need my input, but where they affect me I think I should be involved. For example, I would have thought that the choice to move out of our home – the place in which I was born! – would be made taking into account my thoughts on the matter. But no; I just woke up one day, and sensed something was up when I noticed that mum and dad were busying themselves moving boxes around. And then men came and emptied our house! My bed and most of my toys just disappeared. All I was left with was my rainbow dragonfly and my bouncer, in which I sat, in an echoing empty lounge room in a state of shock, only feet from where I entered the world many months ago. I wasn’t happy, and tried to let mum and dad know this. Their response was to have me sleep on the floor that night. The next day we left in a strange car.
 
Since then I wake up with the sensation of not really knowing where I am, probably because I don’t really know where I am. We sleep in different houses, with different sounds, different smells; I’m in a different bed in each house, looking up at a different ceiling. But it’s actually not that bad – I’m good with it since mum and dad are there. I find that I’m very happy when I wake up, looking about and wondering where I am, and then mum and dad pick me up and show me a better view. And in different places I get to meet lots of new people, people who don’t speak the same language as mum and dad, people on trains, people in shops, people in buses, people who think I’m cute. All I need to do is smile at them and they go all gushy and gooey at me.