My dearest E.,
You do the funniest things. At 18 months, you’re energetic, lively and too bubbly for words. You speak in a cutesy voice. Methinks you have taken after your mother’s temperament. You are your mother’s daughter. Imitate, improvise, create. Seek to entertain. That is what you do. So tell me, my sweet, how do you expect me to act when you…:-
Talk on my phone and step away from the room to take that “call”? Or call my friends listed in my phone memory?
Answer: Hope that you don’t drop my phone, because it’s almost brand new. Laugh because you act like your father, who steps away when he takes an important business call. Tell my friends, I’m sorry but my daughter accidentally called you. She loves making telephone calls.
Tear my kitchen apart and re-arrange our kitchenware and dining ware and in the process, break 2 of my prized money-can’t-buy china bowls handed down from my own mother?
Answer: Clean up after you. Reprimand you a little. Give in to your creative whims and fancies. I don’t want to stifle you.
Dangle your hand into the toilet bowl and scoop the water into your mouth?
Answer: Scream! Beat myself up for not watching you closely enough. Scrub your mouth with baby toothpaste. Stick my hanky-wrapped finger in to clean out your tongue. You kick and scream. You get angry with me for daring to put a finger into your mouth.
Tear off the velcro-like fasteners on your diapers, throw those diapers off and run around the house like a little tornado, stark naked?
Answer: Catch you if I can (I always can). Hope you don’t pee on the floor. Fit you into another pair of diapers while you angrily throw incomprehensible words at me.
Dip your hands into my food and feed yourself?
Answer: Clean your hands. Get you your own plastic bowl and utensils. Make you sit down beside me to eat.
Throw a tantrum and upset a whole bowl of porridge all over my clean living room floor? Shout at me for daring to serve up porridge to you?
Answer: So you want filet mignon, little one? Dump you into your play pen. Scold you for throwing a tantrum. Ignore your little demands. Clean up the mess. Order McDonalds’ chicken porridge for you because I’m just too tired to cook another meal all over again. You still get porridge. Listen to your mother, because Mummy knows best.
Say “Hi” or “Hey” to strangers in the street or the mall or when we’re out?
Answer: Swell up with pride. I didn’t have to teach you this, but you’ve learnt on your own. I have a clever daughter.
Mimic Bruce Lee’s kung fu moves?
Answer: Laugh like crazy. Make you do it again and again and again.
Try to hit my face after I’ve dealt you with a little smack on your hand- for touching those forbidden things (electrical sockets, that bottle of calamine lotion and camphor oil, the cash in my wallet)?
Answer: Bring my voice an octave down to a stern rumbling growl. Hope you’ll listen. You stare at me, determined not to cry although your mouth has downturned. Make you kiss me and make up. And hug you, to let you know that if I do get a little angry, or try to discipline you, it is only because I love you.
Reach out to kiss me on my mouth, oh-so-tenderly and gently, when we lie in bed together, ready to fall asleep after a long day?
Answer: Kiss you back, oh-so-tenderly and gently. And hug you for showing me that you love me too.
Dance like a ballerina, spinning around like a little top, arms held high over your head?
Answer: Dance like a ballerina, spinning around like a big top, arms held high over my head. And we both fall down in a heap together, laughing.
Grow up a little too quickly?
Answer: Deal with it. My little bird will fly away from her nest someday.
How can I tell you how funny you are? How can I let you know enough how much I love you? How can I make sure you turn out to be a lovely, generous and kind person?
I suppose we’ll find out the next few decades or so, baby. Give me your hand then. Both you and I- let’s take that journey on self-realisation, learning and making mistakes together.