Petra's nearly 17 months old now. In that brief time she's changed from a tiny otherworldly dot whose world only extended a few inches from her face and who didn't even know that her hands and feet were her own, to an active mobile little girl capable of quite sophisticated interactions with her environment. It's a privilege and a delight to get to see her grow and develop.
I find her utterly charming. She hugs and kisses us, reaching up to wrap her arms around our necks and bestow little lip smacking kisses on our cheeks and lips. If she rolls near my head in the night, she kisses me before falling back into sleep. She gives us those open-mouthed slobbery toddler specials when she's feeling particularly enthusiastic. And she's always up for blowing raspberries on any exposed skin she can find.
She can participate in increasingly complex conversations. We ask her if she wants her bath and she runs down the hallway yelling ba ba, then stands impatiently by the taps urging us on. She runs between Travis and me, passing things to us if asked. She knows what I mean when I tell her it's time for bed. She heads to the front door saying ca ca if we say we're going out. She repeats words and phrases – she doesn't always get the pronunciation right but the intonations are clear. And she understands a lot of what I say – responding to questions and instructions and chatting back in her own private Petra language. She copies our physical mannerisms as well. She folds her arms, something I do more often than I realise, and she stands with her hips pushed forwards just like Travis does.
She runs, climbs, dances, gets in, over, under, and generally uses our house as her private adventure playground. She's also getting much bolder outside. She opens the front gate, carefully walking it backwards until she can squeeze through, and we walk out onto the footpath. We look at the old snail shell, the prickly holly hedge, the lichen on the path, at passing cars, children, and dogs. Petra picks up leaves and bark. We walk to the corner, then back into our yard. I close the gate, Petra opens it, and we do the whole walk again, and again, and again, until she gets bored or I discover something else we need to do.
Yesterday she took the plunge and stepped from the footpath to the rather unkempt grass on our lawn. She's been very suspicious about grass, refusing to stand on it, even with shoes on, but she suddenly decided that she could do it and followed me all round the yard as I dead-headed the rose bushes.
Here she is looking all grown up.