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The Redster: Four years and three months
The babeling: One year and a day

When the Redster was born, for at least the first year, time had a different quality. She made me live totally in the present. I couldn’t remember what life was like before she was born and the future would be no different to whatever was happening now. It was therefore impossible to imagine her outgrowing her carrycot, for instance, or ever sleeping through the night. I remember being in despair because she kept chucking her food, spoons and bowls on the floor. ‘She won’t do it on her wedding day,’ said Ganny, light-heartedly. It was a revelation. The Redster was ten months old at the time.

Anyway, she outgrew her carrycot, her crib, her cot, and now her extendable bed needs extending. Somewhere along the way time took on its normal properties and moved forward again. Then along came the babeling and this time, nothing stopped. She’s done endless crying, spectacular vomiting, excruciating teething, interminable night-waking, persistant food-refusing, and each time I’ve thought ‘This will pass,’ and it has. Very fast.

When she was nine months old I had to leave the babeling in the park playground with a friend while I took the Redster off to do a wee. I rushed her there and back and scanned the playground anxiously for a flustered friend holding a screaming baby (naptime was approaching). I could see neither, but what did cross my vision was a very small motorist whizzing across the playground on a ride-on car. It was the babeling, being pushed by a small child. She drove around at some speed for ages gripping the wheel steadily, one sock trailing on the ground, looking completely unflummoxed.

I blinked again and yesterday she turned one, having taken her first steps (into the Redster’s arms) a few days earlier, and she’s already a pro at mimicking me on the phone, even if she is holding a plastic courgette to her ear at the time. I’m both proud and bewildered. What was she doing all that time I can’t remember? Have I been ignoring her for the last twelve months? Where are the timeless moments that I had with the Redster as a baby, crystallised in my mind forever? The only mother-and-baby moments that spring to mind were six traumatic days in the children’s ward when she had viral meningitis, with me pacing the corridor with her, a big bandage on her arm from the drip and me nearly hallucinating from sleep deprivation.

Still, here she is, apparently unscathed and actually rather cheery. Her favourite thing is to be bundled onto hard floor surfaces by her sister although it still takes me a second to register that that screaming noise is laughter.

she's got a wicked laugh

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