The waiting room is empty for once. The only sound is the piercing scream of an infant. It doesn’t matter, my baby girl will be chirping in soon enough when it’s her turn. I feel sorry for the doctor, really. He spends the day administering vital vaccinations and checking over children only to get screamed at.
For now, back here in the waiting room, all is peaceful. My baby is snoozing, the toys in the island are packed away, the books are neat, and the rocking horse and elephant are stored neatly under the coat rack.
Those rocking toys.
They are old, going by the wear on the wood. They lack any decoration and are simply designed. I always wonder how long they’ve been part of the wares provided to distract snotty and feverish kids waiting to see the physician. Probably a decade, at least. Plain and simple compared to the all singing, all dancing toys available, they’re extremely forgettable.
They have their place in my story, though.
It’s two and a half years since I first sat in this waiting room. I had the same bassinet with the same blanket, same wrap holding nappies and wipes. Then, though, it was my baby boy snuggled down in a hat carefully knitted by a friend, his eyes flickering under the green trim. (The flickering eyes of my daughter are so similar, the hat the same style, this time with a purple trim.)
I used to look at the rocking toys and apparently healthy kids swinging back and forth (I’ve since learned kids don’t typically look sick in the way adults do. They still run circles round you between sneezes.) and find it unbelievable that my son would be that kid riding a wooden horse and making clicking noises with his tongue.
Over the last 36 months, we’ve had a few routine trips to the doctor’s office. And each time my boy has engaged more with the rocking toys. Sitting, he was at constant risk of losing a finger as he insisted on pushing back and forth with one hand, the other in the danger zone.
From sitting came pulling himself up delightedly. Then asking to sit on them with enthusiasm, rocking gently as I made horsey noises. (My elephant impression still needed work back then.) Now he can stride over, mount the horse and inform me that he is off to see his auntie or his best buddies. This toy has been a marker of sorts, a way to see the remarkable things he learns as the months go by.
One day, the rocking toys will stop being interesting. They’ll be baby toys, reserved for his sister.
Because sitting here, 5 kilos of baby under a blanket, her chubby cheeks soft and her chest rising and falling slowly, I know I’ll see her growth in part through her interactions with a wooden rocking toy. All the weigh ins and supposed milestones are fine, but these toys have served me well in honing my appreciation for my child’s development. I don’t know or care at what age a child can typically ride on a rocking toy. I only know he couldn’t, then he could
And sitting here, having seen it once before, I can’t quite believe my baby girl will one day also be galloping into the sunset.
We can measure kids in all kinds of ways. We can keep charts and records, look at graphs and compare notes with friends. But providing they’re healthy, the growth that matters is the growth that I can’t believe will happen and that I can measure against a beat up swaying horse.