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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A First Time for Everything.

All mothers remember ‘firsts’ in their children’s lives. 

Their baby’s first tooth, that first tenuous step, and the first word uttered from their sweet mouths (which let’s face it, is usually mum or dad) are special moments that stay with us forever.

Sometimes those ‘firsts’ can be something we take for granted and our child’s new wonder and delight fills us with a sense of fresh admiration for whatever it is they have discovered.

I recall the first time we took Lulu to the Gold Coast and she ran out on to the sand. Living in North Queensland, where the Great Barrier Reef precludes surf, we put up with coarse, grainy sand on our beaches that feels harsh and scratchy underfoot and is not that nice to lie on. 

The minute Lulu scampered on to the silken, powdery sand at Broadbeach she stopped frozen in terror. Looking up at me with horrified eyes she squealed,

“What is it?” and promptly burst into tears.

It was a similar situation when Jonah had a life-altering moment at about three years of age. 

Pizza Hut had been on the dinner menu that night and I had failed to notice how much pizza Jonah had been stuffing down his little gob. I tucked him into his racing car bed early in the night and was roused from sleep at about eleven o’clock to the sound of crying. 

When I staggered into the room and turned on the light I thought I’d walked into a scene from ‘The Exorcist’. There was so much vomit on his Superhero bedspread I waited for Jonah’s head to begin spinning.

“What happened?” wailed Jonah incredulously. 

It was the first time he’d thrown up in his memory and he must have wondered why his insides were being ejected from his mouth.

Everyone jokes about how much poo you have to deal with when you have a baby but no-one goes into depth about the spew. It’s preposterous the number of nights I woke up beside an ailing child in bed who would sit up without warning and puke all over the place. 

I’d get up, rinse the vomit off the sheets (making sure to poke the chunky bits through the plug holes with a pointy instrument) wash the child and myself, and change our pajamas and sheets. Thirty minutes later they would do it all again.

Hagar’s ‘first’ realisation of the circle of life was a truly endearing moment. 
At about four years of age, he snuggled up beside me in bed reading a book. We came to a sad part when an old family dog unexpectedly went to the big kennel in the sky.

He looked up at me with his black-lashed grey eyes and whispered,
“Why did he die Mummy?”

“Well Hagar, the doggy was very old and everything dies eventually.”

“Will Odie die?”

“Yes, one day he will Hagar.” I replied (thinking that if Odie didn’t stop incurring complaints from the neighbours he would be going to bone-heaven sooner rather than later.

Hagar seemed satisfied with that answer.

“But you won’t die, will you Mummy?”

“Darling, one day Mummy will die. Not for a long time (I'm hoping anyway) but everyone gets old and they get tired and they die.”

It took me about an hour to pacify his sobbing. 

It was awful.
I try to manipulate Hagar’s sensitivity these days. When he is being a classic a#$%hole teenager I switch into ‘Jewish 
Mother” mode.

“So what! You wanna kill your Mudda! You wanna give me an aneurism and have me drop down dead on da floor? Oy vey!”

It doesn’t work. 
He just grunts, “Meh….” and walks away from me.

Padraic’s ‘first’ was the first time he ran away from home. 
He was about five when he artfully absconded with his loyal partner in crime, Lulu, who was four years old. 

They were missing for roughly ten minutes, during which time I had been running up and down the street in my pajamas screaming out for them like a demonic harridan. 

In the distance I spotted a fluorescent workman walking up the hill with the pygmy version of Bonnie and Clyde trotting along beside him. 

Handing over the naughty duo he scrutinised me curiously, probably thinking I was the type of neglectful woman who should be prevented from breeding.

 Thaddeus’ first was my favourite. 

He was a late talker and at three years of age he was still only saying about ten single words. My then-husband and I were a tad concerned and I had been reading books about delayed onset of speech. 

One muggy, unpleasant day I was lying miserably on an old papasan with Thaddeus and Jonah playing on the floor around me and Hagar in my belly. Thaddeus stopped playing and stood up looking at me carefully. 

Gently, he climbed up on the chair, rested his little body on my chest, wrapped his chubby arms around my neck and said,

“I wub woo Mum!”