Mimi turned one this month. Bad parents parent that I am, because Mimi’s birthday fell on a weekday, I contemplated skipping her first birthday celebration and clubbing it with a christening party that will happen in India in February. Not that “celebration” means anything major in our household. As it turns out, on Mimi’s actual birthday we cut a cake and then we did a repeat round on Saturday when we hosted a little party for our friends.

Since November, Benji has been singing “Happy Birthday to You”. First for his own birthday, then Christmas (we never managed to get around to teaching him Christmas greetings) and then Mimi’s birthday.

Since the middle of last year, Benji began showing signs of remorse. If he pushed Mimi and she yelped, he would come back and say “Sowwy Mimi”. It warmed the cockles of our hearts.

Increasingly though, the novelty of her is waning, particularly as he has realised that our attention is more divided. We had been ignoring Mimi a bit in favour of Benji but now that she’s old enough to notice, we won’t do it anymore. Which means less of us for him, which he does not like and he knows who’s to blame. Initially, he would tell one of the helpers to take Mimi but now that that’s not working, he resorts to just pushing her out of the way. He also always wants what she has. He was taught to give her something else if he’s taking something from her, but now that Mimi’s older she’s not so easily distracted. So there’s been a lot of wailing in our household.

Mimi said her first word – Ello. She started off by putting her hand to her ear and saying it as if she’s answering a phone. Her utterance is very dramatic, her whole tongue flung out. She also seems to be saying “Tita” (Aunty in Tagalog, which the kids call our helpers), “Dada” and just yesterday “Amma”. Of course, Amma came last.

She has begun taking her first independent steps. She’s been crawling and cruising for a while, but now she lets go and runs. Of course, she is impatient. For a while last year, it looked like she wanted to give crawling a miss and get straight to walking. Now she seems to want to skip walking in favour of running.

She is really the most surprising girl. I could have never imagined such a daughter. Focused on what she wants so that even at five months we couldn’t easily take things away from her. Fiesty as hell, so if she doesn’t get her way, she flings herself back and screams. On the go, always, this child who sat so still for 9 nine months, refusing even to turn despite me practically standing on my head to get her to, now making up for all that inertia. Unconcerned about injury mostly, which she literally brushes off with her hands as if a bump on the head is a speck of dust. Indifferent to cuddles, and woe betide you try to hug her while she’s involved in something else. A couple of weeks ago, I cuddled her from behind, she turned around whacked me and then bit my arm! I am reduced to soft kisses when she’s not looking. Frankly, I’m a little afraid of her, tornado that she is.

My curly-haired meercat, I could never have imagined you in my wildest dreams.