Deaf Dad: How my kids surprised (and outwitted) me

Posted on June 14, 2012



Parenthood is all about the little moments.

Sure, there’s the big stuff. Your kid reaching out and grabbing something for the first time. Standing up. Taking their first steps. Signing their first word. Saying their first spoken word. The milestones we bore other parents with and record religiously in our baby books.

What’s more important are the little things that happen to you, and you alone.

One

Recently I went into the living room to speak to Toddler, only to find she wasn’t there. She wasn’t in the kitchen, or dining room either. I couldn’t believe she’d managed to go upstairs, but I decided to look there, too. Her bedroom, our bedroom. The bathroom. Nothing.

My heart-rate started to quicken. I felt short of breath. I called her name out. I went back downstairs and opened the front door, worried that she might have got out somehow. I looked up and down the street. Nothing.

I went back into the house, confused. Then I heard some giggling noises.

I found her hiding at the side of the sofa in a little ball of giggles with a huge smile on her face.

I breathed out again. I smiled. I felt a little bit annoyed, too.

It’s great when your kids learn new skills but not when they lead to major parenting freak-out. As I went on to tell Toddler, “you can get too good at hiding.”

She giggled when I said that, too.

Two

We’re also now at the age when they say funny things.

On the way to pre-school, Toddler suddenly started telling me something. It was windy, cars were driving past, and it sounded important. So I stopped pushing the pram and crouched down so I could see and hear her.

“Sorry?”

“I want to marry you, Daddy,” said Toddler.

“Well that’s very kind of you, but what about Mummy?” I replied.

“She can marry [Baby].”

The next day, she told her cousin that she wanted to marry her too.

She clearly (and very sweetly) thinks that people who like each other get married.

She’s making about three proposals a week at the moment.

Three

Finally, there was the amazing thing that Baby did a few weeks ago.

Now, Baby likes her food. Toddler doesn’t, as much. Toddler is a lot more fussy. But Baby will chomp anything down. It’s a relief, because you don’t have to battle with her every mealtime.

I was eating some popcorn in the kitchen one morning, when Baby came up and indicated, through pointing and random noises alone, that she wanted some. So I gave her a couple of pieces.

She asked for more. And it was then that I decided to run a little test.

Realising that Toddler hadn’t had any, I gave a piece to Baby and asked her to give it to Toddler.

So I followed her as she walked in her cute way all the way round to Toddler, who was watching Peppa Pig on TV at the time.

Would she share?

Baby held out the popcorn for her sister.

I was so, so proud of her.

But Toddler, sitting on the sofa transfixed by the latest adventures of Peppa and George, didn’t look down.

Baby looked at Toddler, then looked at the popcorn. Then at her sister and back again.

I could see her thinking.

Suddenly, she broke it in half, and ate half of it.

Then, Baby held out the remaining half of the popcorn for Toddler. Who still didn’t look down.

Once more, Baby looked at her sister then at (half) the popcorn. Then thought for a second.

She broke it in half again, and ate another quarter of it.

By the time Toddler looked down, most of it had gone. Toddler still happily took the remaining quarter and ate it though.

And Baby waddled off even more happily.

I was now proud of Baby on two levels.

First, she’d tried to share at least some of it with her sister. That’s a positive. She could easily have eaten it all.

Second, she’d outwitted her sister at the age of 18 months.

A stunning double achievement, in my book.

Charlie Swinbourne is the editor of Limping Chicken, as well as being a journalist and award-winning scriptwriter. He writes for the Guardian and BBC Online, and as a scriptwriter, penned My Song, Coming Out and Four Deaf Yorkshiremen.

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