• Aisha Iqbal

We're Tiny, We're Toony, We're All a Little Loony

'Wutt.' "What?" I turn to look down at Z, who comes up to just above my knees now. He's looking at me seriously with his cartoon-wide eyes. 'God.' he replies solemnly. "What??" 'Wutt. God.'

I'm guessing he's picked that up from me. Just like he's picked up the intense hand movement from Fahad (who moves his hands a lot while debating and conversing). So every now and then Z will be sitting in his pushchair just waving his outstretched palms up and down to emphasize a point.

Just like the incredible spurt in development around 9 months, at almost 18 months Z has learnt so much so quickly that we just can't keep up. Every night we look at each other in amazement. 'Man, he really is something'.

And most definitely, Z is his very own comical and at times terrifying tiny person and while I absolutely love his current stage, there is that bittersweet nostalgia for when he was a little bit tinier and rounder. It all seems to be going by a little too fast.

I find it incredible how having a baby might be the only thing that not only changes your present and future, but also your past. I look back at my memories differently now, reimagining the exciting adventures of college and wondering if Z too will love being in the dorms and hoping he will make amazing lifelong friends like I was lucky enough to, hoping he doesn't go through the painfully typical teenage angst years that I did. Every good memory is now tinged with the hope that my baby too has that, and more, as he grows; all the less golden memories make me anxious wondering if he will have to go through the darker days as well.

He is such a remarkable person already and whenever I lose my temper or patience, I suffer the infamous mama guilt for ages, desperately hoping I can be better than that and not pass on these lesser qualities to my toddler who is in an incredible sponge-like phase where he picks up on all emotional cues, mimicks hand gestures, remembers words I say in front of him just once.

Seriously, even when it seems like he is immersed in his play, he's always eavesdropping on us. He will repeat random things ("don'tknow", "basically", "man") when we'll be talking to each other or on the phone, and then we will turn around to find him grinning at us for a second and going back to his plastic rings and wooden cars.

It is actually quite stressful to raise a child because you do desperately want them to be good and kind and happy, but it is also quite hard to be good and kind and happy all the time. I guess we just gotta try our best... if anything is worth the immense effort of changing my less shiny traits, it is this little boy.

Z, who's passion for cars is only overshadowed by his obsession with fans. Every morning he wakes up, and even before his eyes fall on the little table fan on his shelf, he shouts FAN! Fan, fan, o fan, FAN!!! It's like someone who had amnesia has suddenly remembered the code to his safe. FAN!! He is astounded at my poor attempts at matching his excitement on seeing the fan.

He still loves playing peekaboo, especially while eating, successfully smearing butter and breadcrumbs or eggs or bananas on his face and forehead and then disliking me intensely when I wipe his face semi-clean.

He also doesn't like it when he catches a hair on his hand, making the most offended face and holding up his chubby fingers for me to remove the curly culprit.

He loves kicking the ball around, and going up and down the stairs, emptying all boxes and cupboards of clothes, shoving everything back and again and again, but always leaving stuff strewn around at the end.

We still love reading and he has thankfully stopped his mini tantrums when a book ends. He's replaced that less-than-appealing trait with a new one: unstrapping the velcro on his shoes. He just doesn't want the straps closed. Wants them flapping about.

Unfortunately, when he waddles and runs around at the park, strapless shoes come off. He doesn't like that either. You can kind of imagine how that goes (toddler running holding my hand, toddler's shoes coming off, toddler yelling and plopping on the ground till I put shoes back on, toddler unstrapping flaps immediately, toddler screaming when I try to stick them back, toddler happy when I give up and running with open flaps again, shoes off, toddler on the ground ... and repeat till mama loses her patience and plops toddler on the pushchair, bribing him with snacks and tosses the stupid velcro shoes out of sight...).

Thankfully I have now found shoes that don't have velcro straps. Bonus, they're Peppa Pig shoes. Thank you, Tesco.

Our nights are still unpredictable. He was weaned off night feedings at 9 months but from 12 months to now, he's decided he wants at least one bottle of milk each night. Sometimes at 10pm, sometimes at 5am. Keeping things exciting so mama and baba don't get too relaxed thinking they've mastered this parenting thing.

I've actually slowly come to enjoy this lack of mastery (most of the time at least), the ever changing journey, like levelling up in a game.

Each new stage has come with its own pile of challenges, that are heavily outweighed by the joys and amazement brought about by my little baby becoming a little boy full of love and joy and excitement. From the way he snuggles and hugs us, to when he calls me 'mama' (so rare but so amazing), making my brain and heart melt, to the impossibly naughty face he makes when he runs towards the stairs and starts clambering up, and even the terribly rebellious steely look he gets when he decides to very slowly and deliberately throw things off his highchair table.

And while we're far from perfect, it is good to know that we're managing to get some things right along the way. Here is hoping that with a little love and grace, we'll continue to do better.

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