It is unbelievable to me that it is alreadyJune. I can vividly remember these days last year when I was pathetically pregnant and struggling to make it through the final days of school. Getting dressed each morning was a struggle. I remember thinking, “What would Humpty Dumpty do?” as I stared listlessly into my closet which seemed , strangely, filled with Barbie clothes. Whose tiny clothes were they? Certainly not mine.
At my worst during those times, I wondered how on earth I would find enough love and patience for another child. Now, at my best, I find myself comletely in love with Esther and entirely smitten with Isla, or “the culprit” as I like to call her. With Esther, I am amazed at the simple fact that she is one and the same with the snot-soaked ball of exploding emotions she was at three and a half. At times she is impossibly genteel with pleases and thank yous and excuse mes and don’t cry Islas. I am in love with the complicated little person she has become. With Isla, it’s purely physical. I am enamored with her softness, her pliant cheeks and translucent, rubber ears. I am addicted to the feel of her little body sprawled like a kitten across my stomach and her warm globe of a head resting in the crook of my arm. I swoon at the sight of her smiling mouth and sparkling eyes as she tries desperately to suck me into her world so completely that no outside distractions will lure me away.
She really is here. This morning Esther ran into the room and over to Isla’s crib to peer in through the bars at her pudgy little zoo baby and I heard this big, “pbbbthhhhhhhhh” sound. (Isla’s latest favorite sound, the verbal raspberry.) “Was that you?” I asked her. “No,” Esther laughed. “That was Isla.”
Welcome to planet earth Isla! I read in the book “Eat, Pray, Love,” by Elizabeth Gilbert that, in Indonesia, babies aren’t allowed to touch the ground until they are six months old. That makes so much sense to me. Isla, seven months old now, has only just recently joined us on this earth. She has come down, Mork like, from some distant planet and landed on her deliciously chubby rear end in our living room.
She has all of a sudden noticed we have a dog living here with us and that pleases her immensely. Each time Ruby comes into view, Isla squeals with delight as if she has never seen her before. Or as Esther says, “she bursts out in peals of laughter.” She is trying out her limited, but varied language skills on us with regularity. I pbbbthh at her and she ppbbttthhhh’s back at me. She clucks her tongue at me and I cluck my tongue back at her. And she is learning of her power to woo. And oh how she woos. How could such a tiny person have so much wooing power? If she keeps it up she will likely never have to buy a single drink at a bar as long as she lives.
I’ve seen some ridiculously whipped mothers, but never considered myself to rank among them. That is until now. We were driving to do some errands the other day and Isla managed to telekinetically force my eyes away from the road and onto her. I am not proud of this story but I will tell it just the same. It should be recorded, along with a long list of other inane things mothers with children do while driving, and used to educate unwitting young women around the world. There’s a reason there are so many jokes about women drivers.
So anyway, Isla’s car seat sits behind me diagonally. When she grows bored of gazing at the scenery as it speeds away from her, she turns her head back towards me and tilts up her chin to peer with one eye over the top of her seat. Her gaze is intent. I can feel it burning into the back of my head, willing me to meet it. When I look back, she laughs and her one shining eye squints devilishly, daring me to keep looking at her, rather than back at the road where anyone who values life should be looking. I turn my gaze back to the road and tell her I can’t. That I must stay focused on my driving. She wins, I look again. She squeals. I look straight ahead and tell her, "no more. Mummy is driving." She cries. I look back. She smiles through watery eyes. Okay, I’m a complete sucker, and an idiot. "That’s enough. You’re just going to have to cry. I can’t keep looking at you."
And cry she does. Loud, insistent, but fortunately short lived. She soon catches sight of her feet and the little flowers on her shoes. She kicks them up and down. She catches hold of one of them and brings it to her mouth. Mmm. Good.