From gummy smiles to Ford Fiestas

3 Nov

There’s a stranger in my house. No, it’s okay, don’t call the police. He’s only small and means no harm. The stranger is my son and he’s 19-months-old. I say a stranger but of course I know him well, after all he was made by and from me (the good bits, the rest are his father’s) and he spends an awful amount of time tugging at legs (when he’s not being the alpha male baby at nursery).

But somehow I feel that I don’t quite yet know him. It’s an admission I feel guilty making but let’s face it, like it or not, 90% of the emotions in parenting involve guilt in some shape or form. I put my feelings down to two things. First, although he’s been in my life for 19 months (plus the not insignificant 9-month pregnancy bit) that time has passed faster than a fleet-footed fox – my brain recalls the overall journey but not a vast amount of the detail. Secondly, his communication is still mainly via grunts, pointing and physical violence (of the unintentional kind) and this can be something of a barrier between even the most adorable of toddlers and the most loving of parents.

Don’t get me wrong. I am deeply in love with my son. Please don’t confuse my feelings with not loving him for I intend to tie him firmly to my apron strings and make him a mummy’s boy. Am I expecting too much as a parent? Perhaps I am anticipating too soon the fulfilling, reciprocal relationship that in time will grow if I’m patient (but then will no doubt disappear rapidly down the road in his mate’s Ford Fiesta when he hits the teenage years). Most parents will remember how one-way their relationship with their screaming and demanding newborn felt until that facial expression signifying wind first became a genuine, gummy smile. Just when you think it’s all take and no give, you get a smile, a laugh or a Peppa Pig sticker on the forehead.

Boys are generally said to develop speech more slowly than girls, preferring to develop their motor skills first and learn skills one at a time (no gender stereotypes there then).  The challenge that is getting to know your child is all about making connections and overcoming barriers whether they be, as in the case of smiling, physical or, as with the grunting toddler desperate to communicate, verbal. Whether this is harder with a boy where verbal communication may develop more slowly I couldn’t say 100%, but as a mother of a girl too I’m fairly certain that the two experiences have been very different.

With each week my son’s vocabulary grows and we can better decipher his increasingly tuneful grunts. Without wanting to wish time away, I am curious to know, when in the next few months he finally finds his voice and the words he needs to express himself, who he is and see the hints of who he will become.


3 Responses to “From gummy smiles to Ford Fiestas”

  1. simonsometimessays November 4, 2012 at 8:46 am #

    What a lovely piece.

    Even a bit further down the line, where my children have grown up and to a great extent become the people they are going to be, it is sometimes difficult to see just how they have got there. We keep baby and toddler photos to try and hold on to the shared sense of discovery as they grow, but put one of those pictures up next to a prom photo or an 18th birthday party snapshot and I remain mystified.

    As for gender sterotyping, there are certainly differences between bringing up girls and boys – I can’t say from personal experience, which has been confined to girls. What that experience tells me, though, is that there is a wealth of difference between any two children.

  2. Actually Mummy November 12, 2012 at 2:22 pm #

    I’m always looking forward to the next phase. It’s good to stop and check out the good points of now sometimes 🙂 And actually, the older my kids get, the more I think I have to learn about them!

    • Crumbs & Pegs November 12, 2012 at 8:27 pm #

      Just as you conquer one challenge there’s always a new one to face! Must take more notice of the ‘now’ though.

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