Eliana, this is you at 19 months:

You have claimed a set of keys for yourself. They have a purple key fob and they are so important that ‘purple key’ was your first two-word phrase. We (Papa) mindlessly returned them to the friend whose house they unlocked only to have to retrieve them a day later as you refused to leave home without them. With key in hand you lead me to the park, pointing the way because it is a path well trodden by our daily journey. We’re likely to move house before any imprints are made on your memory and it makes me bittersweet to think you won’t remember this home, our little microcosm, that has been the backdrop to our daily drama, our safe place when the learning curve has gotten too steep.

Your sense of ownership is acute and the property of one person must not be used by another. Nanny’s phone is Nanny’s phone. Papa was sitting in that chair and therefore no-one else can. ‘Baby’ has carte blanche ownership of everything, of course.



You know your name and will point to yourself when asked ‘Who is Eliana?’ A four syllable name is proving to be a bit of a mouthful for you though so the constant debate for a short version continues. Children slightly older than you seem to catch Nana or Ana but I fear the banana/Frozen connotations and am currently championing Ella. Time will tell if that rubs off and perhaps in ten years you’ll read this and we’ll chuckle at what came of it. Knowing your headstrong ways you will inevitably be the one that decides anyway.

Your vocabulary is growing and after a day spent alone with you it can feel like we’ve had full conversations, albeit mostly filled with nonsense. ‘No’ is new and used emphatically and you sing frequent, delightful exclamations of ‘Uh-oh!’ and ‘Ta-dah!’

You lick your cheese, not the soft kind which you’ll eat by the spoonful, but Babybel which is your new favourite thanks to its novelty red case. We are beyond trying to elevate your taste by force; if something makes it past licking stage it’s a success. This approach seems to be working and you’ll happily chow down edamame beans then call for ice-cream for dessert. You LOVE ice cream. So much so that we only open the freezer when you’re not looking and take the long route back from the park to circumnavigate the ice-cream van. If you do happen to notice and then don’t get your own way (because eating ice-cream every day of the week is more than even I will allow) it’s hard to stifle our amusement at the ensuing histrionics. Where you learned these from I have no idea…

It goes without saying that you are breastfeeding as much as ever. Even when I feel depleted and you’re taking all I’ve got I find myself instinctively digging my heels ever deeper to defend our way of doing things in the face of inquisition because even though I’m tired, I’m also happy. I trust that in time you will tell me when you need me less. Maybe you won’t, but we’ve come this far so let’s ride it out a bit longer to see.

Your circle of trust is tight, barely extending beyond close family, but anyone who passes the initiation process feels great privilege when they are singled out for impromptu cuddles. You have taken to spontaneously stroking our faces with affection and call for family group hugs. There’s no-one more grateful for this than Papa.

You still find your knees to be a real cause for concern and they are often the first point of discussion upon waking in the morning, usually in reference to the damage you did to them with your tumbles the previous day. All in all you are very steady on your feet now though. You move constantly; your energy in boundless. It is exhilarating and exhausting in equal measure and empties my reserves every day.

I am writing this while we holiday in Greece where your eyes have turned blue-green, your skin glows, where you’re thriving under the loving gaze of family and bemused by the locals who stroke your head, kiss your feet and chatter to you in a language you know is not your own. You find having sand on your hands irksome but you’ll lie your bare, sea-slicked body down on the beach and have no concerns over the sand that gets into every crevice. Let’s bask a little while longer in this stolen summer then head home where you will teach me to rediscover autumn through your eyes.


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