Home with baby Damien.
Damien and I lived with my folks and my siblings until he was four years old. The first few months were pretty much normal development wise… he started on solids- went through a “colicky” phase- said his first words- got his first teeth- normal stuff like that. By 5 months old he was sitting. Yup. By 7 months old he was pulling himself up on the furniture- he did NOT crawl- and by 9 months old he was walking, in fact- he took his first steps at midnight on New Years Eve 1991 (going into 1992). Our party noise woke him up and I went to change him- he was very excitable and I brought him out to wish everyone, it was hot so I stripped him of his wet nappy and baby-gro… and he promptly walked halfway across the room on his own!
One morning (before he was walking) Mommy Darling and I walked into the living room to find Damien- still in nappies- at the top of the front door security gate (which was kept closed so I would know where he was most of the time) with a massive grin on his face!! This was just one of my many heart stopping moments.
Another time, I had put Damien to bed and gone back to the lounge to watch some TV. We shared a bedroom at the time. I think he was about 18 months old. I went to check on him a while later and in the dim glow of the passage light I could see he was sitting up in bed with a very guilty look on his face… I switched on the light and found he’d opened my cupboard- climbed up the shelves and was eating my pills! I forget what they were- I think they were anti-histamines or birth control pills… result- a quick trip to the emergency room and induced vomiting! This was when I started locking my cupboard!
A while later, on another day, Mommy Darling and I realised Damien was a little too quiet- you know those moments- and we went looking for him. We searched the whole house, calling him and calling him, no Damien. We ventured outside, calling and calling, Mommy Darling went one way and I went the other, and Mommy Darling found him sitting on the tippity-top of my the washing line, you know the square ones that turn around a middle pole? So Mommy Darling asked Damien how on earth he was going to get down thinking we could “scare” him into not doing it again! No problem for Damien- he simply shimmied down the pole like a fireman who had done it everyday for years!
For his first Christmas (the end of 1991), Damien’s godfather gave him one of those plastic three wheeled motorbikes, a blue one. His godfather did motorcycle off road racing back then. Once we got home from out holiday, it didn’t take Damien long to discover that my folks long veranda was long enough to make an excellent runway giving him enough speed to launch himself off the end of the veranda and onto the lawn… over the three big steps that led to the lawn. Result? Chipped teeth and lots of scratches and bruises… but miraculously, no stitches and nothing broken.
When he was about 7 months old I started working, part time at first, and then full time. I needed a medical aid since Damien was not covered by my dad’s scheme as I still was and I needed an income. Up to that point we had lived on money invested for me by one of my uncles and my Ouma and “charity” (for lack of a better word) from my parents, everything from baby formula to furniture had come out of the money they gave me.
The first morning I spent at a nearby mall without him while I looked for a job was also the first time I saw with startling clarity just how much he looked like his paternal family. I had known it, but never seen it as clearly as I did when I looked at the little photograph I carried in my wallet.