Hammy turned 11 months two weeks ago. Only a few more weeks until we celebrate his first birthday. I thought I should make some comments on him, or fatherhood, or something. I wish I’d been less busy and able to do it incrementally, but even writing in his baby book became difficult with a big show and fundraising campaign on the front burner.
So much has changed since I last wrote about him. When was the last time, anyway? Like six months ago? He’s got teeth now, four of them, which he occasionally uses to bite us with. His behaviour is become more discernable. He’s started pointing in the last few weeks, although figuring out what he’s pointing at is a crapshoot, since he doesn’t seem to understand that his finger needs to target the object. He tends to raise his arm almost straight up and then point his finger in a downward curve no matter what he’s trying to point at.
What else? I think he’s started to understand kissing in the last month, and hugging in the last week. He doesn’t really kiss. He places his mouth on someone (or something in the case of the giant stuffed gorilla Rau-chan) and drools. But it’s close. A bit disconcerting when he unexpectedly does it on one’s open mouth while one is talking to him. I certainly hope his technique improves before he starts kissing for real in his teens. The hoikuen (daycare) reported to me yesterday that he really likes hugging people. Given that we’re always hugging him and each other at home, I don’t find this surprising, but it’s nice to hear that it’s been noticed.
Speaking: It’s been “abwaaababa” or some variation for a while now. About a month ago, I’d trained him to say “da” and “dada” as well, but he seems to have lost that as well while I was off doing my show. Although one morning in production week, he woke me up by standing at the foot of the bed and shouting “DA!” at the top of his lungs.
Right: standing. Still not standing unassisted, but since February he’s been cruising around using furniture. Recently, he’s added walls to his repertoire. He’ll readily walk around the house if someone holds his hands for balance. He also loves to climb things. I am seeing a few bruises and possible broken limbs in his future as he gets older and more adventurous.
I could add that Hammy seems very interested in technology, but I’m not sure if that’s a valid observation on my part, or a tendency to project parts of my own personality onto my little offshoot. Until he can talk, we won’t know, and I’m going to do my best not to influence his interests in that regard. I really look forward to giving him his own computer in a few years, though.
Rolling back for a second: Hoikuen.
Hoikuen is basically the Japanese version of daycare. Why is our 11-month old in daycare? Well, places in daycare are hard to get, and if you don’t get in at the beginning (age 0+), when there are the most places, you may not get your kid in at all. Since my wife and I both work, and my mother-in-law is busy babysitting the four other wee ones in the family, daycare is a necessity. My schedule means that I’m frequently working at home, but during the weeks leading up to a show, I could be away from the house from 9:00am to one o’clock the next morning. Also, at any time I could get a job that requires me to work my pants off (figuratively speaking: those in the know understand that I rarely wear pants) for a week or more on a special project of some sort. Also, from this April, I’ve started teaching acting one day a week at a university in Saitama, which means I’m out of the house from 7:00 to 21:00 or later, depending on trains and how much I need to talk with my students after my last class. So yeah, we need child care enough, and only the full-time option is subsidized by the city. No brainer, really.
Hammy cried the first couple of times we left him there. Once he figured out what we were doing, anyway. He would glare at us and scream the scream of raw betrayal. From the second week, however, he hardly acknowledges us leaving… he’s so eager to go explore and play with new toys. I have to take his temperature in the morning when we arrive, and if the group starts singing the clean-up song while I’m doing that, he starts squirming because he wants to go join them.
So far, though, he is gratifyingly happy to see me at the end of the day when I go to pick him up.
I guess I should sum things up here, but honestly, I don’t have a summation or a conclusion. I’m not quite 12 months into being a father, and I really probably won’t know what to think until after it’s all over and baby Hammy has flown the nest.
It’s going to be hard to get out of the habit of calling him Baby Hammy, though. Maybe I should do it into his teen years for maximum embarrassment.