Hi, I’m Michael Dean and I no longer sit pretty for my monthly pic – AAAHHH what’s that?? Oh. Nothing, I just thought I saw something move. Oh wait what’s that sound? BALL!!! Actually I want that book. Is that… FOOD you are hiding? But seriously, can I have my Sophie la Girafe now? I mean the red box of tissues, coz that’s my favourite thing. That’s what I want, that shiny gold wrapper over there.
I actually googled “symptoms of ADD”, the other day. Oh, the days when my baby would sit quietly on my lap, rapt, as I read The Very Hungry Caterpillar three times consecutively! Nowadays I call it a successful reading if I manage to complete the “And on Saturday, he ate through one piece of chocolate cake…” page, but it has to happen with multiple creepy voice changes and sometimes, operatic singing. Most times, I give up quickly and find myself tossing toys at him in quick succession, hoping something will stick. But all he really wants to do is to try to clamber over the barricades of his play area and freak me out by licking the floor tiles. Absorbing, analyzing, tasting everything all at once, from all directions, at all times.
This morning, Ralph and I discovered videos we’d recorded of Michael when he was still a newborn, which we’d forgotten ever existed. (Score!) Weirdly brown with jaundice, (we’d thought that he was tan from some Polynesian genes getting through, ha!) puffy in the face with skinny stick arms and legs, and oh, that wretched, urgent newborn cry of “wah wah wah“. He was almost unrecognizable in his raw, primitive state, and yet, I found myself interpreting his weird twitchy movements and little odd gestures instantly and easily, because I just could. “He’s tired! Put him to bed!” I wanted to yell at my past self. “Why are you still filming? He needs to be cuddled, he’s scared!”
Mostly, newborn Michael needed comfort. I wanted to reach into the screen and pick him up and rock him. Sing, and tell him stories in a calm voice. My fragile little baby, it’s really going to be okay. Mama’s here and I will learn you. I’m lost now, but I will be better, soon.
These days, we get each other, fast. One squeal from him and I know he wants more lunch. One little bop of my knees and he knows I’m attempting to rock him to sleep and he lets out a yowl, because nice try mama. Two days ago, he shrieked in joy twice, upon seeing me stumble into his bedroom in the early morning, and I knew I’d just heard my first good morning mama!
He’s becoming clever. Very clever.