Whenever I hear an infant cry,
I think of you –
remembering the many months
when you could do little else
to express your wishes
to a pair of adoring but stressed parents,
that had to cater to your every need,
and soothe your every discomfort.
The time when you were so small
you couldn’t even turn your head;
and each time you slept
we’d have to turn you over to alternating sides,
the result being a band round the back of your head
where no hair grew.
And your cute yawn
would melt my heart every time;
so precious and delightful it was to my ears.
But those days are long gone now –
distant memories faded so far away that they seem like years ago.
Yet it was not long at all.
A mere 10 months back,
we marveled when you were able to sit up on your own;
and not long after,
we watched with excitement,
as you squirmed your way forward like a worm –
your first independent movements;
the crawling that would help you explore your own limited horizons,
in our cosy little home of old.
And 8 months ago
when you went through a short period
of scrunching your nose up so cutely at everyone –
a trick which you knew got you attention
and smiles from everyone you did it to.
And maybe it was around the same time
when we’d be so amazed
that you could put your dummy back in –
a dummy that you now throw defiantly
when you want to get a point across;
a dummy that now pops out –
almost automatically –
when you’re around food you want to eat.
And 5 months ago,
when we knew you could walk –
we’d think you unconfident,
as you’d stay down,
one leg up, dragging the other one behind you –
like a miniature cripple
who didn’t think it necessary
to make use of the legs we knew were capable of carrying your little body.
And those once-vicious teeth,
slowly making their way beyond your tender gums,
no longer bite everything in sight;
while your days of scouting the floor
for something to put in your mouth,
seem part of history now.
So too have departed the times of hysteria,
when you’d go mad
laughing at the silliest things,
collapsing on the floor sometimes,
because you just couldn’t take it anymore.
And don’t forget when you started to respond,
intelligently it seemed,
like “don’t touch – it’s hot!”
when you’d tell us what sound the bow-wow made.
And what of your introduction to stairs?
when you’d be so determined to go up yourself,
crawling slowly and exerting yourself –
you think you’re beyond that,
and you try to walk up stairs like a grown-up;
not even taking it one stair at a time.
Your carseat never got much usage,
while your pram was similarly left unused most of the time –
as you preferred to be carried everywhere;
your chubby little figure
weighing heavily on tired arms
of everyone who’d oblige your demands.
But now you walk on your own;
toddling along in the shops,
walking up to strangers
and grabbing things that take your fancy.
And when you’re lifted away from what you shouldn’t touch,
you squirm and kick your legs vigorously,
a squealing protest
against the injustice you think you’re being subjected to.
you hold no grudge –
you come back to us,
perhaps because you forget quickly,
or maybe you have no one else to go to.
And what about the phase
where you saw it as your duty
to unpack boxes, cupboards, shelves, and drawers?
Taking one thing after the other,
flinging it behind your back,
and making a mess of your immediate surroundings.
And that silly table
that you’d keep hitting your head on
when you couldn’t stand or walk properly yet.
Let’s not forget
your sleep-time acrobatics:
how you’ll end up all over the place –
whether in your cot
or in the bed between us;
pushing us to the very edges,
just so you can be comfortable
in whatever position takes your fancy
at that particular moment.
And when you run from the hairdryer,
or towards the vacuum cleaner –
which was once your enemy,
but then became an object of attraction and awe.
How about the way you so very often
end up with either
or one shoe?
Always managing to lose the other one
somewhere along the way of your never-ceasing toddling.
And the nurturing moments
when you gives your babas bottle,
or put them to sleep –
though the latter act
is not restricted to teddies alone.
And don’t you remember
the winter gown
you once marveled at when you were tiny?
You were so fascinated by it,
and now you hide behind it,
thinking I don’t know where you are –
even when I’m staring right at you,
with no barrier between us.
I love your little grunts and gasps
when you see something that captures your attention,
and turn to look at me
as if I, too, should be utterly amazed
at the sight your little eyes
are so impressed by.
And the way you point
at what you want,
then look expectantly at me;
as if you’re the boss,
and I must follow your orders
and bring you what you wish for.
And it warms my heart
when you wander
indiscriminately around us
as we pray –
an act so sanctified and peaceful,
requiring concentration –
yet you find no difficulty
in playing with our toes,
or standing in front of us demanding to be picked up,
making funny noises directly in our faces,
or plopping yourself down in the place we are to prostrate in.
And it doesn’t seem to bother you, either,
that your mother often has to chase you
just to feed you food
which you like,
but won’t take to immediately.
But even with the difficulties;
for all your quirks,
and normal, day-to-day cuteness,
we find tremendous joy and entertainment
in being around you;
giving you our attention;
and being there for you
not only out of duty,
but out of love –
unstoppable love –
would inspire us
to do all we could
to take care of you:
our precious gift from God,
and our greatest responsibility in life.
So to you,
Toddles / Kukus / Yum-Yum / Aunti Drooly / Stinky / Gassy Pants / Little Bunny
for being who you are,
and accepting us –
despite our flaw and faults;
and we hope
that our road with you
will be a long and happy one;
with the ultimate ending;
in the ultimate abode of peace.