Little Monkeys

When my firstborn, Hannah, was about 9 months old I was struck by her primate-ness. The way that she would gesture and cling to me when I carried her and issue forth strings of vowel sounds was more than a little reminiscent of a monkey. I could imagine her holding tight to me while I climbed the treetops, her little fingers never letting go. It is a primate thing, after all, to carry our young around the way we do. You don’t see puppies or calves or bear cubs or baby elephants riding on their mothers’ backs.

Now Hannah is approaching her 5th birthday and she’s not so monkey-like anymore, although I still use ‘Monkey’ as a nickname. But my second child Jacob is 15 months old, and he makes me think of a little chimpanzee. When he dances he has a wide stance and he bobs up and down and makes crazy noises, and it is very ape-like. And when he’s afraid he grabs on to me so strongly that I could not hold him at all and he wouldn’t fall. I am his lifeline in the metaphorical treetops of life, and he knows it.

Of course, I think my children are much cuter than your average monkey, and they always have been. And I also take comfort in knowing that they will outgrow their monkey-ness. But for right now it’s kind of cute. It makes me think of the millions of years of history that are built into each one of us. I marvel at how mothers and babies and families are really just part of an unbroken chain in time, stretching back far beyond my imagination. And yet, here it is, playing out in front of me as my toddler asks me for a cracker in his pre-verbal, howler monkey tones. Ah-ah-ah-ah-AAAAH!

You have to admit, the similarities are sort of compelling. In fact, they’re so obvious that many businesses targeted toward children use the word monkey in their name. There are clothing lines, diapers, daycares, indoor playgrounds, stores, toys and more that use the word. And monkey images are popular, too, with the most obvious and successful being the entire Curious George franchise. People like monkeys, and they kind of remind us of our children.

And I can see why:
Baby monkey holding on
Photo credit George Estreich on Flickr

Crossing the Burrard Street Bridge
18-month-old Hannah and I on the Burrard Street Bridge

Snuggling while Mom surfs
6-month-old Jacob snuggling up to me

PS – I have entered the Blog to Inspire contest, which ends tomorrow. If you haven’t seen my post, I’d love it if you stopped by and wished me luck at Battling the Toy Catalogues.

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  1. My good friend called my babies “monkeys” and I didn’t really understand it until I really studied the baby behavior. I definitely agree–there is primate-like behavior and it’s so cute.

  2. I don’t know… monkies are pretty damned cute…

    When one of our kids was scared and glommed onto us with that death-grip, we called it ‘doing the spider monkey’. I just made a comment somewhere else about one day in the park, Eve met a little girl and heard her mother call her ‘little monkey’, and then the mother laughed her ass off when she heard Eve say “come on Monkey, let’s go play on the seesaw!”
    .-= Allison´s last post ..***********Day 30! =-.

  3. “Monkey” doesn’t quite translate the same in my language and culture. I never realized this before. In this case, there’s a clear advantage to being a bilingual family: we can still read and enjoy Curious George!
    .-= Francesca´s last post ..Feasting on our heirloom pumpkin =-.

  4. I love this – so true too! When Kai was about 4 months old went to visit a nearby zoo specialising in primates. I had an amazing experience that day. The first was standing watching a gibbon mother nursing her new baby. Kai was snuggled in his sling, peeping out and she looked at me with an amazing mixture of understanding and protectiveness. I think she recognised the little bundle on my chest, and she let me get close to the glass to see her baby. I felt such kinship with her and sobbed my socks off.

    .-= Josie @Sleep is for the Weak´s last post ..Just when I thought I was going to lose my mind… =-.

  5. We have two little monkeys over here too. Sometimes we call them our crazy monkeys because they like to go ape. 🙂
    .-= Capital Mom´s last post ..One nap =-.

  6. I’m still struck by my kids’ primate-ness & they’re 3 & 1 – it cracks me up!!!! 🙂 Funny post.

  7. very sweet, I call my youngest a “monkey” because he was so very good at hanging on and very flexible and strong for his size.
    My oldest was nicknamed “turkey” because he would get so mad that his face would change colour like a tomturkey and the noises (both happy and mad) were very goobly-gobbly sometimes!

    Even though they are 8 and 12 now, the nicknames are still affectionately shared (but not in public! LOL).
    .-= *pol´s last post ..Because you asked… =-.

  8. Such cuteness! Kids and monkeys all snuggled up.
    .-= Lady M´s last post ..Why Clothing for Boys is More Exciting Than I Expected =-.

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