Snapshot of Harry
at 19 months

by Anne-marie Taplin

Crinkly nose, eyes wide in shock and the ‘o’ mouth, Mr Lip and the howl, laughing eyes and grin from ear to ear… so many expressions! Our play-actor, mime artist, show pony. Talking nonsense and singing like a magpie. Mimicking our words and understanding most of what we say. I’m constantly surprised to hear from your Grandma what you’ve been up to when she baby-sits and how you lead her around the house showing off your latest gem of knowledge. You can say lots of words now but you don’t always remember them. You love books and pointing and you can remember the most amazing detail. We’re really noticing how your sponge of a brain soaks up every little thing.

You run with confidence and climb ladders and steps at the playgrounds (which you love). You bounce with joy on your bouncy-bike, step skilfully across the wobbly bridge, slide gleefully down your slippery-dip or balance precariously on the jungle-jim – all of which your Dad’s made for you.

You love riding in the tractor (ride-on mower) or in Daddy’s ute, usually in your car seat but sometimes (around the yard) standing on Daddy’s lap and holding on to the steering wheel.

You are obsessed with tools – your hammer, screw-driver, spanner and saw – almost as much as your dolly, who has her own basket complete with pillow and blanket. Dolly comes into the bath with us some days.

We’re still breast-feeding although you like it more as a comfort and top-up than anything else; you’re still a bucking bronco when you feed and can be really annoying!

Most nights you are sleeping through from 8.30pm to 6.30am, and sometimes we go back to sleep together in the big bed until 8.00am – a real treat for Mummy or Daddy!

Life is hectic with you around; you never stop running, shouting, playing, poking, laughing, crying, demanding, exploring, fiddling, smearing, slapping, throwing or generally testing boundaries. At night after you are asleep, I am usually so exhausted that my bed-time hour has permanently changed to 9.30 or 10.00pm.

When you are excited, you shout “Daah!” and dance with your leg high in the air. We also love it when you say animal noises – for pig you say “Ohnno, Ohnno, Ohnno” instead of oink, oink, oink!

For Easter we hid chocolate eggs in the garden and led you on a treasure hunt. You collected them in a basket and feasted afterwards – your first real taste of chocolate.

You have incredible strength and hand control; nipping, pinching, grasping fingers that can do surprisingly delicate things when you really want to. You’re just as keen on batting away your food, but mostly you say, with a serious expression, “Nohne”. It’s your favourite word at the moment.

Mostly you are very cuddly and I still can’t get enough of your smell and softness, especially on the side of your neck, that special place under the chin. Although your breath is not sweet as vanilla-newly mown grass-baby powder as it once was, its milky-sourness is mixed up with a distinctive Harry-smell that, blind folded, I’d know anywhere.


© Anne-marie Taplin

“A gender-equal society would be one where the word ‘gender’ does not exist: where everyone can be themselves.”*

I’ve always been aware of gender conditioning and actively tried to combat any lingering prejudices or stereotypes in my own parenting, even down to encouraging dolls with my boys when they were little. It’s great to read people writing about gender issues they’re experiencing with their kids. For too long these subjects have been discouraged or silenced. I’d love to publish some more creative writing on this topic, especially if you are struggling with a child who actively tries to move away from gender normative preferences. A society where everyone can be themselves thanks Gloria for those aspirational words.

Share your thoughts

* Gloria Steinem