The blankets have been put away and swapped for a snuggly duvet, there’s a fresh chill in the air and the first Summer of love with my baby girl is coming to a close. We spent a month soaking in the Bulgarian sunshine and joie de vivre, getting her weaning off a great start with flavoursome Bulgarian fruit, veg and yoghurt. She swam in the Black Sea and was serenaded with Bulgarian songs. Though not yet walking she danced (nay, even led) her first Horo being held in the arms of my father at a Bulgarian-Swiss wedding in Zurich. For those that don’t know, the Horo is a traditional Bulgarian dance, best attempted after a few glasses of Rakia.
She has also connected with her roots from up North, celebrating the 80th birthday of her Great Great Aunt in a working man’s club, and having her first taste of Granny’s Yorkshire Pudding – the first of many I’m sure.
In stark contrast to the life affirming, has been the life threatening. I’m hoping that unlike a cat my daughter will have more than 9 lives; in her 8 months of life she has already used two of them. Driving to the airport in heavy rain, our car aquaplaned and spun through three lanes of busy traffic. It was sheer luck that no cars hit us; we managed to escape the incident unharmed, and continued on to catch our flight. The second incident chimes neatly with my regular theme of “stuff that happens on buses”. A lapse of concentration on the part of a bus driver caused him to close his doors just as we were trying to board, and he started to drive off with the wheel of our pushchair stuck in the doors. Luckily he heard my screams and stopped within a few seconds. Again, I was left very shaken, but we were unharmed and able to continue with our day.
A recurring theme in many parenting books is the importance of spending time “being present” with your child. It’s a hippy turn of phrase, but it’s just about applying full attention to the enjoyment of your child’s company, without worrying about your to-do list or attempting to multi-task. Easier said than done when you are trying to convince a sceptical family that you’re not so bad at being a housewife after all.
Now is the time in her development where I need to be present in a much more literal sense. With her short blonde locks, she resembles a small Daniel Craig, determined to throw herself into the face of danger. While for James Bond that generally means skiing down dramatic slopes chasing villains and glamorous ladies, for little miss it mostly means landing face first in the carpet. She is busily trying to pull herself upright and doing downward dog at every opportunity. Either she is a very yogic baby, or she is using her bottom to communicate with some higher power – waving frantically to try and combat the poor signal coverage in our house.
With the Summer over I’m conscious of the diminishing time I have left before she starts nursery in January. I think back to that day on the hard shoulder of the A20, where things could have turned out so differently, and I’m doubly aware of how precious this time is. Time to be present with my little yogi, in every possible sense.