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Dear Polly

I have a contribution in the Australian Baby Guide 2009, which is a letter I wrote to my daughter Polly. The first page is excerpted here, and repeated below:
Dear Polly …Okay, you’ve turned one, and here is the joke of the night. I’ve cooked pasta, and deposited it in one of your Bunnykins bowls on the off chance that you might eat something that is fed to you, rather than insisting on feeding yourself. I’ve cut up the penne and doused it in bolognaise. For a while, you let me spoon you bits, particularly if I favour the meat over the pasta, and then, again showing an independence that is well in advance of any actual ability to be independent, you scoop up the penne in your fists.No laughs from you yet. This is all par for the course, every night of the week, fist-feeding at dinner time. But then, sensing that I might be a little hungry, you shove your fists in my mouth and drop the pasta in there. Wanting to be a sport (and frankly, because it was a pretty reasonable bolognaise made by your Granny Margaret) I eat your food. And that’s when you started giggling. You dip back into the bowl for more and feed me more. By now you’re in hysterics. The big guy who’s slightly less appealing than Mum is eating my penne! And I’m feeding it to him! You seem to have an innate sense of the law of comedy trios, and decide to go back one more time. Again, I’m force-fed by you. Hawwwwwwww!! You can barely go on. Together we have struck comedy gold. It’s surely destined to become a running gag.

I actually can’t believe you are one. It’s been so much fun having you around this year. That makes it sound like we’ve had you around for a barbecue or something, when really I’m trying to say that in an existential sense, you have changed everything — as though the world was in black and white before, and now is in colour. When you came home from the hospital you were so adorably defenceless and tiny that Mum and I hugged you most of the day and half of the night, and it only got a bit annoying when you wanted to make it the whole of the night. Mum did most of the waking. She, after all, was pushing the drinks trolley and I had a breakfast radio alarm to contend with. I also failed to hear you on many occasions. I think that for a while there, you had a cry that was exactly the same timbre as my dreams.

Back then you loved being cuddled against a shoulder or a breast. I also adored having you lie over the crook of my elbow, and you enjoyed that position too, especially when I patted your bottom. We watched ten episodes of Band of Brothers like that, and as limbs flew from bodies and bloody battle unfolded after bloody battle, Mum did ask whether I really thought it was suitable. And I said, yep, because it was just loud bangs which you didn’t yet know were scary, nor could you tell that the brave man on screen had just lost his face. It was pretty full on, come to think of it. I highly recommend seeing it once I let you, which will now be some time. You were so small and delicate, and apart from a sort of yellow flakiness on your scalp, utterly flawless. You used to make an ‘o’ shape with your mouth, sort of like a prim and proper lady expressing surprise, with a touch of disapproval. It was so cute. Mum and I would stand over your change table….