Before embarking on this parenting lark, I figured babies were like little balls of dribble and poop. Some were easy on the eyes, others less so. They were slaves to their needs for milk and bowel movements, demanding instant gratification or else letting out an ear-splitting howl. And they were all exactly the same. To talk of ‘personality’ in a baby was laughable.
How wrong I was.
Izzie has buckets of personality, and a talent for mischief that I wouldn’t believe in a seven-month old if I hadn’t seen it myself. Far from being a passive servant to her physiological urges, she’s an active participant in learning, laughing and game-playing – mostly at the expense of daddy.
Take what she did to my phone the other day. Since her favourite game is grabbing those things her parents deem important enough to deny her access to – mobile phones, TV controllers, cameras, tablet devices – Lizzie was using my phone as bait to encourage her to crawl. And of course, it would be unfair to take it off her once she got it.
At least, this was Lizzie’s philosophy. I was blissfully ignorant of it until I walked into the lounge and saw Izzie with one end of my phone in her mouth, her fingers tapping the touch screen like she was playing a flute.
Ah, how cute, I thought – she’s making a phone call.
I was less amused when I took it off her (unleashing a wall of tortured screaming) to see she was in some application on the internet and there were two buttons on the screen, one reading ‘confirm’ and the other ‘cancel’.
Panicked, I quickly cancelled out of whatever it was she’d been about to install, or buy, or delete, thinking I’d dodged a bullet. But that was just the start of it.
She’d turned on the wi-fi, turned on Bluetooth, turned on the GPS tracker, turned on mobile data, put it into flight mode, and changed the network from Vodafone to T-Mobile! God knows what else she might have done that I haven’t found yet – there’s an icon on the top left of the screen that wasn’t there before, and all attempts to remove it have failed. And it seems to think I have headphones plugged in all the time now.
It’s the same story with my Kindle (forgive the pun). I’ll be writing something, little ‘un on my lap seemingly engrossed in her own thing, and suddenly this little hand will swipe across the screen and exit whatever application I’m using, or delete my file, or undo changes. And she smiles and giggles, like she knows exactly what she’s done.
She has an uncanny knack for making mischief. The other day I spent a couple of hours baby-proofing the lounge, putting plastic squares on sharp corners and sticking rubber padding on the edges of furniture with double-sided tape. Then I brought Izzie into her new ‘safe’ playground.
The very first thing she did – the very first! – was to roll her way over to the sideboard, grab the bottom of the rubber padding and – riiiiippp – pull off the whole three-foot strip. Then she eyed-up the padding on the TV table, so I put her to bed.
Not that bed is safe from her shenanigans. She loves throwing her dummy down the back of the cot, perhaps because she knows it’ll force me to pull out the drawer and strain to squeeze underneath to retrieve it. The other night, she was lying peacefully in her cot, ready to sleep, so I stepped out of the room and closed the door. Within twenty seconds, I heard the dummy clatter down behind the cot and she started to make crying sounds, only to laugh the moment I stepped back in.
Having a bit of sense – only a bit – I put the second dummy in her mouth, stepped out, closed the door, and in less than ten seconds – I counted – it followed the first down the back of the cot.
After enduring five minutes of her tearful sniffling I went back in there and – lo and behold – she started laughing!
I’ve developed a new tactic in the Battle of Bedtime – I put Dummy 1 in her mouth, and as soon as she takes it out I pop in Dummy 2, so she ends up with one in each hand and a perplexed expression on her face. It’s not foolproof – she can just throw them both down the back of the cot – but she hasn’t quite figured that out yet. And long may she remain in ignorance, or else Dummy 3 will have to make an appearance on the scene.
Nothing but passive servants to their physiological urges? They’re devious, calculating monsters!
Now I’m dreading the arrival of my phone bill…