Amy spent most of her life until the ripe old age of 2 1/2 on my back. Meg was 2 when Amy was born and a very active 2. I needed to be chasing the toddler around and I needed to keep the baby safe from an onslaught of love. We set up the baby bed especially for this but monkey Meg managed to shimmy up the vertical bars on the first day and was found in the baby bed giving her sister big smacking slobbery kisses. So it was the backpack carrier for Amy.
I remember when I first saw women carrying their babies on their backs I was horrified- it looked like a school bag and I couldn't imagine how they could turn around and get around without backing the poor baby into something. And I mean they couldn't even see the baby- how would they know if it suddenly got gravely ill?? Two babies later and I was much less concerned about babies developing sudden onset grave illnesses and was a convert to the baby backpack. (Incidentally I remember reading somewhere that (maybe in Nigeria?) when women first saw strollers they were horrified at the idea of pushing the baby out their in front of you unprotected. I guess it's all about what you're used to, hey?)
More than a convert, I was an addict. It got to the stage that when she was tired or out of sorts Amy would toddle over to me dragging the baby backpack behind her and plop it on my lap. We used to call her koala baby.
I'd forgotten about it (we had to give it up at 2 1/2 as she weighed 13 kilos and the seat part of the carrier was too narrow and gave her painful looking wedgies) until last night.
Friday nights I teach a women's English class in my living room. This is not a situation I'm 100% happy about and certainly not a class I intended. Rather a matter of a group of strong willed obatarians who seemed sure that having me in the neighbourhood and not doing anything on a Friday night at 8pm meant they would have their class then. Simple, really. Oh well, it's been going on for a few years now and I've gotten used to it. The five women include the head of the JA women's league, the wife of a local politician, a district welfare officer and a woman whose family are one of the biggest producers in the district so there are more weeks when they can't come than when they can but they have low expectations so I'm not fussed.
The biggest angst the class causes me is having the living room presentable and the girls asleep before they arrive. K is rarely home by 8:00 on Fridays so it's teach with two kids showing off for their captive audience or get them to bed and asleep before 8:00. Bit of a toss up which is more stress inducing actually...
So yesterday they weren't even in their pjs by 7:30 and I gave up on the sleep idea and got out the textas (oohhhh, textas! We usually stick to crayons and pencils here) and some big pieces of paper and set them up in another room. This lasted about 30 minutes and then Meg came in to take the class with them. She is always bemused at all these big people conscientiously practising English she considers easy. With 20 minutes to go until the end of class Amy wandered in. An hour past bedtime and she was exhausted. She wanted a cuddle and I was trying to explain the difference between waist and stomach so I piggy backed her. And she got heavier, and heavier and... ohh.... I remember this deadweight feeling.... ohhhh how sweet.... my almost 4 year old had snuggled up into the back of my neck and gone to sleep just like she used to do. Near melted my heart. Almost enough to make me forget that she weighs 18 kilos and her legs now dangle down and thwack me in the back of the thighs. Still it was nice knowing that underneath the ball of determined energy that is Amy now the koala baby is still there.
I mean how could you say know to that?