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Keeping up with baby
Giving love to your baby makes your heart flutter like butterfly wings. Spontaneously getting love back makes your heart soar. Like most two-year-olds, Ziya has finally reached the age where, all on her own, she’s climbing up to give me kisses upon kisses, tell me she loves me, tell me she likes my hair or my eyes or my earrings, or tell me that she missed me when I walk in the door from work. I could dance with delight and, when I stoop to grab her up, telling her how much I missed her, how much I love her eyes and her nose and her hair, and how smart and wonderful she is, it’s like everything around us is just a blur.
I keep wondering when her brain made that transition from baby absorbing everything in the world to little person understanding what to like and love and miss someone and see beauty means. These kinds of transitions are expected, but when they come they strike a loud chord that echoes with both the stage of little life just passed and the one that has arrived, a chord that you know will also soon, maybe too soon, melt into new tempos, rhythms and combinations. There are other transitions that mark shifts in knowledge and emotions.
When she fusses, and we refuse to give way to what she wants unless she stops, she’ll tell us, “I stop, I stop” and, miraculously, stop fussing completely. One minute she is bawling incomprehensibly about whatever, literally the next nanosecond she is fully capable of saying in a lucid sentence what she was flailing about before. When ready, she clearly has complete control of her emotions. It’s unnerving. She knows when one strategy is failing, when to co-operate and when to hold her hand to see if she can wrench further concessions.
As two tired parents, Stone and I are not always prepared for these qualities usually typical of grey-suited capitalist CEOs and we’re rusty at such steely-eyed boardroom negotiation. You begin to wonder who is really going to learn the most here when you look at your two-year-old and know she already thinks she can outsmart you. I noted this with a mix of awe and apprehension when I was admonishing Zi for being naughty and said to her in my most parental voice, “Ziya, that is a big no-no.” She countered, “Not a small nono?” without missing a beat.
I thought she had not understood the point, but she had already passed the stage I was still in and was deliberately being funny. She waited for me to blink and, when I finally got it like my brain had to be towed to the joke, she laughed uproariously at her own backchat. Of course, she then had to repeat the naughty thing so that the whole punch line could be delivered again. I looked at her as if a stranger had possessed her body. What happened to the baby? Who was this?
They can mamaguy, appreciate love and fling wordplay in fourth gear while you are still rolling in second. Welcome. Please fasten your seat belt. Try to stay in the driver’s seat. This is them at only two. There will be soaring, there will be dancing, there will be stoppeddead- in-your-tracks recognition and there will be no choice but to keep pace, because they are, in fact, learning both from and faster than you.
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