How time flies when you’re having fun/having next to no sleep/having to spend every waking hour tending to the needs of a very sweet, very short and very particular little dictator.
I sat down and did the maths last night (the poor second child doesn’t have her age etched into our hearts and breathlessly recounted in weeks, days and minutes like her older brother did, and I realised I was slightly hazy on the details). FOUR months. FOUR MONTHS OLD. How did that happen?
Boy is she lovely. But also: boy is she growing. In all sorts of ways that are sending me scurrying to Freecyle and Preloved and Facebook and friends, on the hunt for things that might satisfy her voracious needs.
She has now burst – in spectacularly chubby, Michelin tyred fashion – out of all the clothes we collected for her before the birth. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve had to start hunting down a whole new wardrobe in 3-6 and 6-9 months.
Things I’ve learnt: I need to move faster. Monster-muncher that he is, Johnny wasn’t growing anything like this fast when I started the project last year. So I haven’t learnt how to update – for free – a wardrobe that changes as fast as Imelda Marcos’ shoe collection. Easy it ain’t. Do-able, I think it probably is.
I just need to anticipate our needs earlier, start hunting for the next size up before she’s literally bursting at the seams. With what we’ve gathered and the few bits and bobs that we saved from Johnny’s babyhood, I think we’re safe for the next few months. And then we’ll breathe a sigh of relief when summer arrives and I can have a happy naked baby for a few months.
Last weekend we hit the jackpot: in an attic in Tom’s parent’s house, a box full of seventies baby clothes – a treasure trove of smocking, knickerbockers and candy-cane stripes. Apparently they tried to sell it all to a second-hand shop recently and they wouldn’t take it, so clearly it’s not to everyone - or even most people’s – tastes. But I LOVE IT ALL. It’s so much more beautifully made than any of the modern hand-me-downs that Frida has had. Lovely as they are, I can’t see of them lasting several decades and multiple cousins-worth of wear and tear.
Perhaps that’s the trouble with baby clothes these days? Rather than the need to last for future generations, they’re designed with fashion foremost in mind. And fashion’s fleeting, right? So who cares if they last.
A question though: what’s with all the tiny eyelets and fiddly buttons? Did vintage babies not wriggle?
Gone are the days when I could leave her to flirt with a light fitting (any light fitting) for the length of a nice cup of tea and a short magazine piece. Girl needs stuff. Colours, movement, things to squeeze into submission in her iron grip.
So do we finally have to admit that we need some battery operated, singing, dancing and drive-you-crazy-with-my-incessant-jingle toys?
I’m not sure. Upstairs, we still have Johnny’s old cot mobile, which is one of those plastic-fantastic, Mozart playing monstrosities and, dammit, she LOVES it. I don’t for a minute buy into all the claims it made about enhancing development, co-ordination, tap-dancing and Mandarin-mastering skills but it keeps her quiet and happy for up to twenty whole minutes at a time. Frankly, they don’t have to make any other claims to win me over, heart and soul.
But I HATE it. The tunes hammer away into my frontal cortex so that I’m still humming them at ten at night. I hum them in bars. I hum them in meeting with important people. I hum them in my dreams. I am so, SO unwilling to add to this maddening kiddy cacophony, melting my mind. But she needs SOMETHING to play with downstairs.
We borrowed a friend’s bouncy chair, which is great but doesn’t have toys to entertain her too. So I’m on the hunt. I found a jungle gym for sale on our amazing local facebook page. After I emailed, the seller agreed that I could borrow it for six weeks or so - in return for some cake (made my me), marmalade (made by my mother in law) and eggs (made by her hens). Then I’ll give it back, nice and clean and hopefully not too badly mauled by the mini-me, and she can relist it for sale. Everyone’s a winner.
I’m also going to give these beautiful DIY mobiles a go, from the always-inspiring Seeds and Stitches blog. Her’s look beautiful. Mine won’t. But maybe they’ll entertain her anyway and I can always tell people that Johnny made them.
As the weather warms up, I’m going to try and spend as much time as possible outside with her – are the swaying branches of a tree as captivating as a mobile?
But what about things to chew on, shake and rattle? Does she need a bloody Sophie the Giraffe?
We’re introducing the odd bottle over here. I have an old manual pump that seems to do the job fine (I don’t want to try a nice, modern electric one, for fear of discovering how much easier it is… On the other hand, it’s not really a job that any amount of money and technology can made glamorous, is it?)
A friend’s neighbour dropped a mountain of used bottles on her (not literally on her, you understand). Anyway, this friend didn’t need all of them so between the ones she let us have and a few swaps that appeared online, we’re covered for the moment.
Frida also gets a prescription for formula because she has problems with cow’s milk (an intolerance! She’s already so much trendier than her parents…) so when the time comes for us to make the switch that’ll actually be free too.
But what do we do when we need the next teat size up? And sterilising. Do we need to get our hands on a proper steriliser? What does it do that a good boil in a large pan wouldn’t do? As ever, answers on a postcard urgently requested please…