It feels a bit funny to call myself “Daddy” in a post.
I am getting used to calling myself that at
home, but it is funny to write it online!
One of my highlights this Christmas has been to spend more
time with our baby, Mariama. Although I
watched seven younger sisters and a younger brother grow up, I can’t remember
noticing the stages of development so vividly as I see them in Mariama.
Can it already be five and a half months?
It just seems like last week she was born
and the next morning I was wrapping her in a swaddling cloth and shhhhh-ing her
until she stopped crying.
poured in to greet, and she quickly learned to smile for them.
We took her to get her earrings (essential so people will know she is a girl), and her
I am so thankful
that I didn’t ignore her during those first two months, because I would have
missed out on newborn Mariama. (Thank
you, Christy—and also Bill Keane—for reminding us to treasure each phase of life!)
Has it only been five and a half months? She seems like a completely different baby
now. She is getting so tall and heavy
in our arms! She watches and listens to everything
that is happening, as if she understands.
She grabs whatever lands in her hand (especially Mommy’s hair and the
long beads that hang in the doorway.) She
knows her name. She stays sitting up on
her own. She loves her crackly sounding
toys (which sound like the dangerous plastic we have to keep away from her to
me!) and “reading” books.
But my favorite change is her “talking.”
Mommy firmly believes that Mariama should be
interacted with at every moment, and so from the day Mariama was born, Mommy
has continued talking to hear almost every moment.
Mariama seemed to pick up quickly, and by two
months she was already “talking” with cooing sound—her favorite ones being high
Mommy would respond as if
she understood what Mariama was saying “Oh?
Is that right”
“Then what happened?”
After taking a month’s break or so, Mariama has started back
up again. Often she looks at you, but
even when she doesn’t you can totally see her expression changing the moment
she knows you are talking to her. If you
are lucky, she will start cooing in response.
Before Mariama was born, Mommy suggested that I speak to her
in Hausa, to help her learn it more quickly.
So, for five and a half months, I have been. “Nkoro [link],” I say, using the name I
prefer to call her in Hausa, “Kin tashi lafiya?” (Did you wake up fine?) “Kina so, ki sha nono?” (Do you want to drink
Mommy’s milk?) “Kin ji wani abu?” (Did
you hear something?) I sometimes wonder
if I will be able to keep it up because speaking to Mariama is one of the few
times I use Hausa at home. However, so
far, I have been able to say whatever I want to her—and it has forced me to
grow a little in my Hausa too.
Around the beginning of October, I noticed Mariama was looking
at my hands intently.
Wanting to do
something interesting with my hands, I decided to spell the American Sign
Language alphabet for her—singing while I did it.
She absolutely loved it, especially the “U” “V” “W” part.
(Maybe she thought it was funny to see two
fingers which seemed like one to her suddenly split apart?)
Immediately after I finished, I noticed her
looking at her hand a lot, moving her thumb and first two fingers.
Mommy and I grew tired of two different “A,
B, C, D” songs before Mariama did, so I started trying to sign other words and
songs, but I don’t know much sign language at all.
So today I bought an ASL book.
Maybe in a few months Mariama will start signing and
talking, maybe even in multiple languages, but I am not eager for that day to
come any sooner than it has to. If she
and Mommy go out of the house, I miss both of them. I love Mariama just as she is right now, my
beautiful little baby. Thank God with us for how she is growing!