Friday, 10 September 2010

Jekyll Baby, Darth Baby

Ali is mysterious. I ask her what her motive is every day. She considers the question by frowning and breathing heavily, so I call her Darth Baby. Darth pretends to follow external stimulus to indulge me. But in reality she is governed by a complex internal whirlwind.

Newborn Darth cried for hours. She writhed as if in the vice-grip of some malicious invisible monster. Then as quickly as it started, the invisible monster wandered off, and Ali was content again. Thankfully, the monster morphed into a clown after the early months. Now he hides behind the sofa (everything does) and under ever-present piles of laundry, whispering raucous jokes about tall people to earn hysterical snorting laughter from his very short audience of one.

Quickenings, tummy butterflies that crescendo to ninja rib-kicks, were my first hint of Ali's nature, coming at all hours and in different rhythms. Belly goop-wielding sonographers gave me my second hint. Their scans indicated that Ali was possibly a rare breed of deep-sea fish with ear-grabbing tendencies (recessive trait) and hiccups.

Ali shed amphibiousness for Winston Churchill (a look commonly known by birth mothers as 'the most beautiful thing I have ever seen', and by birth fathers as 'where's the baby, and what's that bald alien-vole doing here?') This rapidly melted into soft cherub, before shedding like snakeskin into something else, again and again.

Ali's first smiles ghosted across her face like pure fleeting magic. Her digestive system was infinitely baffling ('Honey, is it supposed to be black? Oh wait, now it's yellow...') Her initial exhaustion following birth gave way to stubborn insomnia.

After a month or so, she commenced desperate unicycling while attempting to focus her wibily-eyes on anything at all. With crawling came such dedicated floor-slurping that I can only assume babies are paid on commission per chokable. Now she cruises, mostly as an excuse to bash her head on things and fall over. What motivates all this self-destruction is beyond me. Time and again I ask, but she stays mum.
Ali's mood swings are probably her greatest mystery. Even now, long after the trauma and exhaustion of the invisible-monster early days, Ali transitions from beaming joy to pouring misery in no time. Sometimes her funks have a basis in this world: fatigue, hunger, frustration. Mostly they don't.

Slobber through the looking glass.
Ali has two hobbies. The first is discussing current events with her reflection. Her reflection is a bit of a surly jerk though, so these conversations inevitably end in bouts of vigorous head-shaking. Her second passtime is playing a combined hide and seek/peekaboo from her play tent. She has a longer attention span for this game than I do, but due to mama brain syndrome (to be discussed in detail later), this isn't saying much.

This afternoon, she chased the invisible clown all over the house, giggling madly some terribly rude joke that only she could hear. Then the clown went off shift, so Ali and I played tent hide and seekaboo until I felt my mind wandering...CRASH! Without warning, Ana barrelled into the tent like a Monster Dog in a china shop. Before I could caution her to calm down and avoid squishing her baby sister, Ali suddenly, accidentally, got the upper hand: a fistful of her sister's hair. Temporarily Genghis Khan, Ali released a piercing war cry, then collapsed in a fit of maniacal baby giggles. In that moment the invisible clown was made very proud. Ana wriggled free and ran off screeching 'MY, MY, MIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINE!'

What a profound change babies undergo when they become kids. Ana has only the faint memory of mystery about her, although I know that she too was once baffling. Her own motives have become easier to suss (generally world domination, but more on this later).

The whole sisterly interaction took less than three minutes.Perhaps more flummoxing than any of Ali's mysterious moods, is the eternal disconnect between the planet Ali lives on, and the galaxy Ana inhabits.


  1. A lovely post. As a mother of two, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it!

    Cinnamon (sister of Truffle!)

  2. Such wonderful, imaginative observation. Gen wants to know if the clown's name is Fred.

  3. I've called him Puck a few times, but henceforth it's Fred--that suits him well.