My one-year old niece came to stay with us last week.
How quickly you forget, and how quickly the old man retrieved his invisibility cloak, carefully packed away since Kurt’s departure.
The Princess Spoodle won’t forget her gorgeous cousin, such was the advanced level of torture cuddling enacted on her tail – a level of love that even Kurt’s playfulness had not thus far attained.
The carpet won’t forget her visit either, although it made a valiant attempt to resist the wrath of perfectly aimed mashed banana, Weetabix and avocado that rained down on it in food missiles every mealtime.
I’d forgotten how absolutely delicious baby cuddles are, how sticky their little hands are, and how much their whole universe is focused on the people who show them love. I must have pushed memories such as the touch of soft velvet skin, squidgeable thighs and slobbery kisses to the back of my mind since they were replaced by boy stubble, the faint, yet persistent, whiff of stale alcohol and Sports Girl perfume in our home.
The experience was much more exhausting than I remembered, mainly due to how much anxiety one little person can create for someone so out of touch – especially when she had a houseful of exciting and fragile new stuff to discover.
My legs turned to jelly on quite a few occasions, especially when she impulsively tried to throw herself off the top of the slide in the playground, when she casually placed small chess pieces in her mouth and when she prised her perfectly-sized fingers into the bath jets.
But my fear soon dissipated and my heart melted whenever she was sad.
Huge triumphs may be simple with each baby stepping stone, but they are so fulfilling. My sister and I high-fived each other whenever my niece ate something new and healthy, if she made it down the slide without shooting off at the end and when we remembered to let her push the button on the lift, thereby avoiding a massive melt-down. The only disappointments were wrapped up in trying to get her to sleep before wine-time came and passed us by.
Dressing little people is an art I had long forgotten since I exchanged them for skills required for teenagers – like lifting wet towels off the floor and removing nail varnish stains from the carpet. Pulling clothes over wobbly heads and squeezing tiny, fidgety feet into tiny socks and awkward shoes is torturous. And I’d forgotten how the prettiest, new dresses always seem to attract the worst and most indelible fruit stains.
I met Shaun The Sheep and Charlie and Lola and was reminded how to snuggle, feed with a spoon, understand gibberish and bath a wriggly, slippery bundle of love when she is cranky and ready for her bed.
Kurt is back in two days. I think I’m ready.