A stranger was welcomed into our home today. A stranger to me, at least, for I had certainly never seen her in the long seven months of my existence. She showed up bedraggled, sweaty, and, to be honest with you, a little bit grubby, but the rest of the family welcomed her with open arms.
I was not sure how to deal with the situation.
So I pooped.
I was left with Stranger that night. This did not please me. Grandpa, Sister and Brother were still there, but Mummy and Daddy had disappeared like farts in the wind. I made sure to voice my displeasure at the situation until the individuals in question heard me and returned. Stranger did her best to reassure me, but I wasn’t ready to trust her yet. I cried and cried and cried some more. She tried to feed me, change me, play with me, sing to me, put me to bed… but she clearly wasn’t listening to what I was saying. In the end I gave up and fell asleep. But this was because crying is exhausting and I’d given myself a headache.
Stranger has been here for a few days now. She smiles at me often and makes other funny faces, most of which seem a bit excessive and, frankly, downright strange. Sometimes I smile in return because that seems to be the response she wants and is the most effective way to make her stop. Things have been extremely out of the ordinary lately and our regular routine seems to have gone out of the window. Today, for instance, we walked down to the lake at a very unusual time. I enjoyed seeing the Quack-quacks and the trees, as I normally do, but it felt odd. I blame Stranger, but everyone else seems completely fine with this descent into chaos.
It has been nice, however, having an extra playmate around. While Mummy is busy doing grown-up stuff, I normally get bored, but Stranger, despite her eccentricities, is entertainment. She is probably entertaining because of them. She sings me songs and throws me in the air, both of which I enjoy. At first all the songs were new and wrong, but she seems to have picked up my favourites pretty quickly.
Stranger has been here for over a week now. I’m not sure when she’s planning on leaving but she is certainly becoming an established part of the household. She and Mummy dressed me up as a ‘nun’ today with my bib on my head (which was most undignified) and sang loudly at me about pinning down clouds and catching moonbeams (apparently from an old film about singing, mountains, nuns and bad people). They found it absolutely hilarious and I ended up giggling along with Mummy and Stranger, although I was still very confused.
I must find another name for her as she is no longer Stranger, but maybe ‘Amma’. That is the sound that seems to follow her around. The sound that seems to summon her. We are getting on a little better now, and sometimes I let her feed me. I am perfectly capable of feeding myself. In fact, I am so good at it that I make art while I eat, but Mummy does not seem to appreciate that.
What I am still struggling with is the upheaval of our daily schedule, which, impossibly, has stepped up a notch. Paddle-boarding was the first new activity. I just watched; I wasn’t up for it that day. I’m still practicing pulling myself up and I’m almost standing without aid, but it seemed to be tempting fate to try standing while on an unsteady floatation device. I also wasn’t sure about Mummy standing on an unsteady flotation device, but as my distress increased Amma took me to the water’s edge so I could dip my feet in. I love the water. Splish, splash. And this calmed me.
We also went to an island with lots of broken buildings and men dressed in funny old clothes. Apparently it was a place for bad people, but I didn’t see anyone living there now. It was mostly people with big cameras who wandered aimlessly as if lost, and those giant hoppers with long feet who looked a lot more confident about where they were going. I wasn’t sure about this trip. I was very hot, the grass was bumpy and all the hills made the buggy go fast and then slow and then fast again. It was not a good nap.
And there was the land of tall buildings, called The City, and a place full of exciting buttons and stuffed animals (most much bigger than my toys) which I was told was the Sciencentre. I enjoyed this and allowed Amma to carry me around so I had a better view than the one from my buggy. My favourite thing was the metal tubes that made a chiming noise when you banged them. I think I may be a musician when I grow up.
There have been so many exciting experiences: getting on a boat, picking fruit, eating fruit, going out for dinner (although I still got the same old food), going to the doctor (this was not so much fun so I decided to sleep), having family over, going on walks (I didn’t do much of the walking for obvious reasons, but Mummy and sometimes Amma were always there pushing my chariot). The list is endless.
This has also meant that I’ve been extremely well-rested because I have been able to nap so much in the car. The car, I have worked out, is an impressive parenting device used by Mummy and Daddy to quiet me when I am displeased. I do not know what magic is at work, but as soon as that engine starts I cannot keep my eyes open.
I have decided I like Amma. She means well and the upheaval of the last few weeks has been interesting. Sister and Brother have certainly enjoyed having her around and I value their opinions; they are so old and wise. They have experienced nearly ten years in the world between them. When we take them to swimming or church or gymnastics, Amma and I play together and I smile more often now. I like the peekaboo game and when she makes farty noises with her face. I realised that her taste in music isn’t so bad. When we sing ‘Let’s go fly a Kite’ she lifts me up in the air so I can see everything. When she kisses me I smile. And she knows my favourite toys now. She can stay.
She’s all right.
(For anyone who is, understandably, still confused, I stayed with my cousin and her family in Brisbane for three weeks, so I decided to record my visit through the eyes of her youngest daughter.)