Three-legged Cat has written a post which brought back memories of my younger son, Ro, when he was a baby. He grew up to be relaxed and good-humoured, but he was certainly the least happy of all my children at the start. He seemed to both want and reject me at the same time; he woke frequently at night and appeared to be generally frustrated by life.
When he was ten months (or whatever age children are when this happens) old, he learned his first word. Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t ‘mama’. It was ‘dah’. This proved to be vastly useful – it meant ‘water’. There are few more useful words than water. When thirsty, he could ask for ‘dah’. When it was raining, he could point at the window and comment knowledgeably on the weather. We lived by the sea, and he could remark on the scenery. He was, at last, able to communicate and he loved it. He was also able to talk to his father by name, because if you can say ‘dah’ you can say ‘dada’.
Things improved further as time went on and he became more independent. We bought him a slide, which he enjoyed, but the matching swing wasn’t so popular – he had to be lifted into it and then be swung. We moved house the day before his second birthday: the friends who bought our house had a little girl of about the same age and she loved the swing, so we gave it to her as a housewarming present. He hated the car seat and screamed every time he was put in it – car journeys were miserable times. When he was three, he developed severe car sickness, so I suspect this was a major part of his distress.
What still seems remarkable to me was the change in his nature as he grew older. When he was born, and in view of the 8-year age gap between him and his older brother, we were thinking in terms of having a fourth child. But when he was a month old, I looked at the Sage and said “we won’t be having another, will we?” Thank goodness for a doting elder brother and sister, who took a good deal of the strain off me – they became thoroughly neglected themselves, as there was only so much time and emotional energy I had. But by the time he was three, he was absolutely lovely.
I suppose, as a baby, he must have thought I was extremely thick. No wonder he was frustrated. Learning his first word, and realising we could understand him at last, transformed his life.