Monday, August 17, 2009
For Theodore Fox, on the occasion of his first birthday
When they handed you to me in the hospital, last winter, you looked just like a little orangutan. Red and wrinkly all over, you were dusted with blonde fur and you blinked calmly up at me. When I looked at your eyes, I met the same sky-blue peepers that I had, the colour my Dad had passed down to me.
You were such a mellow baby, Teddles. You hardly cried for months. In fact, when you did wail for ten minutes once, your Dad and I and I hauled Ivy out of bed and bundled the whole family in the car. En route to the hospital, you fell asleep, and sheepishly, we turned and went home. Had we made it to Emergency, what would I have said? ‘My baby is CRYING! Help us, somebody! Run every test you can, and damn the expense!'
You didn’t stay quite this peaceful, once you figured out that you needed to share airspace with your all-action-all-the-time big sister. But you kept your mellow, happy nature, and you’ve stayed our little orangutan.
You might like a little picture of your life at twelve months:
You wake in the morning, and love to spend half an hour in bed with the family before breakfast. Dad dances you in the air, and blows on your belly, and Ivy tells you which Wiggle or Thomas train you are expected to play today. Affectionate to the death, you fling yourself at me with abandon. Often I cop a sudden left hook, and your loving head-butts can bring us both to tears. Mostly, though, it's 'Mama!', (unspoken subtext: 'You again! What luck!') and a fierce cuddle, a beautiful way to start the day.
You have supplanted your Dad’s place as family seagull, and happily eat all the leftovers from your sister’s plate. At nearly two years younger, you are just as solid, only half a head shorter, and share most of her clothes. (Even the pink ones.)
All day, you hate to miss the action. You are happiest perched on your mothers hip (as the osteo will confirm.) You love to squeeze into corners and small spaces, to unroll the toilet paper, to eat baby wipes and cotton balls; to unscrew the hot tap and throw it in the bath.
If the adults around you laugh, you do too, with a sudden, honking, delighted cackle you share with your sister. ‘Bah!’ you cry. ‘Mama! Dada! Ay! Dodo!’
You have a crazy jones for the computer keyboard. More than once I have come upon you wildly hammering at it while a text box on the screen says ‘Are you sure you want to delete this folder and all its contents?’ Currently you have set my screen saver to show a pair of 1920’s hipsters in suits.
You are a natural nudist, and fight at nappy and clothes-changing time with every one of your thirteen kilos. Every night, we sing you to sleep with your own little version of 'Danny Boy.' The sentiment is the same though the lyrics are different. Mine: ‘Oh, Teddy Bear, you’re such a lovely baby. Oh you are Mummy’s little baby boy...’ Dads: ‘Oh Teddy Bear, the pipes, the pipes are calling. From glen to glen, those fucking awful pipes…’
At one, you are still so much a baby. You are so deeply attached to me, and I to you, that we spend our days as loose physical extensions of the other. I can sense, though, just around the corner, the bittersweet sting of pride and sorrow that will go along with watching you navigate the world without me.
You are our love baby, McBeddles. Foxilocks Crazypants McMcintosh. Made with love, raised in love, and loved by many. Kissed, cuddled and carried all day. Love lives in every cell of your body, and love radiates from you.
You have given us a year of utter joy, Teddy.
Thanks for being you!