She Is Sixteen, Going On Seventeen (Months)
May Blossom loves to play. Anything that involves chasing, shrieking and creating mayhem gets her seal of approval. Yesterday she and her mate Seamus (the same age) invented a game I dubbed ‘Letterbitch’. It involved both of them standing in front of the fridge and using violent flailing arm movements to swipe all the magnetic letters onto the floor, while shouting what sounded to me like ‘BITCH!’ over and over again. It was extremely funny. Only later, when relating the tale to someone, did it occur to me that they were probably yelling ‘FRIDGE’. I’m not used to them knowing many real words yet. It unnerves me. I’m sticking with Letterbitch.
But there is no stopping the words: they are coming thick and fast. Thanks to my little brother’s girlfriend, about whom May Blossom talks incessantly, for a while ‘Scandal!’ replaced ‘Uh-oh’, when anything dropped to the floor. She can tell me she wants to go to the park, her grandparents’ house, the pool or the zoo. She can ask to swing, cuddle, read, dig, splash or rock (on a rocking chair, not like … shit, I can’t even name a current rock star. Are they even called that anymore? Are the National a rock band? Mumford and Sons?) She can request bananas, sultanas, milk, water, cheese, peas, broccoli, cake, biscuits, apples, grapes, toast (pronounces ‘totes’) and muesli. May Blossom, that is, not my brother’s girlfriend, although I hope she has those skills too. I consider them essential milestones for someone in her mid twenties.
Any word that is extra-special gets repeated. Thus my mother is called ‘Amah Amah Amah’ and May Blossom’s favourite activity, drawing, is pronounced ‘Droing droing droing droing droing’. She can shout ‘Stop’ when she reaches the kerb, although she doesn’t always follow through on her own command. She thinks she can walk unassisted along the high and mortally dangerous wobbly bridge on the play structure at the park. She can’t.
Cuddles are very special with her these days. There are knee cuddles for family who haven’t time to sit down for proper cuddles. There are morning cuddles in bed with me and H; evening cuddles with her and her baby doll, Cupcake. Gusto is the frequent and long-suffering recipient of many cuddles, which sometimes get rough and veer into whacking and cat-flattening territory.
Pushing her friends is another undesirable behaviour we are dealing with these days. It is always done with one eye on me, and only happens if I am doing something that is not focused on her, like cooking or checking emails. The shoving freaks me out, because discipline hasn’t really been something I have had to think about so far. When I first had to make a call on what to do, I had to decide fast and act decisively. I went for the sin-bin approach. After three repeat offences, in between which I looked at her seriously, held both her hands and told her we do not push our friends, that it is not kind and can hurt people, I picked her up and put her in the room. I closed the door and left her. She immediately started wailing. I nearly vomited with the stress and sadness. I left her there for all of about twenty seconds. Then I brought her out, cuddled her, and explained again why pushing people was not okay. It makes me shaky and sick just thinking about it. I had to do it again a few days later. Who knows if it will work.
She is mostly delightful, though she can be a crabby little bugger, which I always attribute to her being ‘not feeling well’ — heaven forbid she should have a negative emotion. She is unpleasant to be around when she is hungry. I can claim genetic responsibility for that one. (Also for her preference for eating what is on other people’s plates.)
She knows and can say about twenty people’s names. She points to the pictures on the wall of our kitchen and will tell you that one is Amah with a horse, that one is baby Amah, and that one is Bruce (Springteen is too hard for her to pronounce at this stage.)
At dinner she feeds herself, then offers bites to Cupcake (which she then quickly gobbles herself after making appropriate nomming sounds for the doll). When a photo of our friends’ baby, Flora, arrived in a text message yesterday while she as eating, she insisted on having the phone propped up in front of her while she finished her meal, and the screen received several mouthfuls of roast chicken.
She makes me laugh a hundred times a day, kisses me out of the blue just as often, and I am so proud of her.
Oh yeah, and she sleeps through the night in her own cot. Every night for the last fortnight. Unbe-fucking-lievable.