Adventures in Toddlerhood

6 02 2013



This is the sweet and funny beginning to the inevitable end of Hazel’s infancy. She suddenly has an agenda that is entirely different from mine. For the record, I don’t know if this should be allowed.

For the most part, Hazel’s daily project involves moving objects that don’t belong to her from one location to another, then looking like innocence personified while mom or dad frantically searches for the missing remote/sunglasses/key/credit card.

Of course my book is in the cat house.

It only makes sense to litter the bedroom floor with packets of instant soup.

Today, Hazel wandered into the bathroom with an armload of clean diapers and emerged with a can of tomato juice.

It’s not easy to have my baby refuse to kiss me with a serious head shake and a firm “bo” (her toddler-speak for no). But my days are filled with an endless stream of one-year-old high jinx that provide amusing distractions for me.

And at the end of the day, the little monster turns back into my baby, and we have a good cuddle together, all the more precious because she is warning me with every step she takes that these days won’t last forever.




The Secret Society

4 01 2013


Oh, sure, it LOOKS cute.  But let me tell you something: I’ve finally figured out what’s really going on in this picture.  I’ve inadvertently captured on camera a meeting of the Babies and Animals Against Adequate Adult Sleep (BAAAAS).  Oh, yes.  It exists.  My daughter is the president.

And here she is giving orders to her right-hand man.  Here’s an approximation of what she’s saying:

“Okay, Mom goes to bed at 10, after doing all that fun stuff she likes to do.  You know, dishes and laundry and stuff.

I’ll take the first shift, from 10 until midnight.  I just have to decide if I want to do periodic shrieks as though I’m experiencing sudden, inexplicable yet very real pain.  Or if I want to just keep up constant but low-level whining.

At midnight, you take over.  Don’t go straight for the eye-ball scratching, though.  Maybe just cry for some food to start out with.  You don’t want to make her mad right away, or she’ll just throw you outside.  And that’ll be a disaster, because the dog won’t be able to jump on the bed and vomit until 2, 2:30.

And try not to be too loud, I’m going to try to get a little sleep before I wake her up at 4 for a snack.

That’ll teach her for trying to put me in a crib every night.

And if you start to feel sorry for her, I have two words: YOU’RE NEUTERED.

Best of luck, kitty.  See you at the shift change.”

You Can Officially Refer to “The Toddler” Now

4 01 2013

To make up for the fact that she has successfully prevented her mother from getting adequate sleep for almost 16 months now, Hazel has been blessedly slow on the independent-moving-and-exploring front.  She was reluctant to scoot or crawl, and when she finally did, she mostly used her new-found power to make sure I didn’t go to the bathroom unattended.  She’s thoughtful like that.

So the monicker “Toddler” hasn’t quite fit her.  Until: that quintessential “toddler” moment, with the mother shaking her head and swearing “I only turned my back for a moment…”  I was 5 feet away from Hazel, browning some meat on the stove, while Hazel played in my baking drawer with measuring cups and spoons and a pastry blender – and, apparently, a poorly contained bag of powdered sugar:


Oh, and not just playing with it.  As I snatched up the camera, she dipped a measuring spoon into the mess, licked it, and declared it “MMMMMMM,” which is the pre-verbal equivalent of 5 stars.  And then threw some up in the air, just to see what would happen (with the predictable result of getting into her hair, all over her face, down her shirt, and into her ears – a successful experiment if there ever was one).

The next day, Hazel took her first “real” steps.  That is to say, she successfully made it from one prop to another, without falling and just because she wanted to, not because some conniving adult let go of her and forced her to take a few stumbling steps to keep from face-planting.  And then she turned around and went back to her original position, and then an hour later, she did it again in a totally different place, so I could no longer deny that she has the capability to walk.

And so I have to come to terms with this new phase a life, in which my baby is still MY baby, but to the rest of the world, she’s one of those stumbling, bumbling, babbling creatures who are just a few motor skills and basic math facts away from going off to college…

In other words, I have a toddler now.

And, boy, am I in for it.


A Sign That I Am Obsessed With My Kid

16 11 2012

My computer? Yeah, it’s full. Full, as in I can’t upload any more pictures from my fancy camera. I took ten times as many photos in the first year of my daughter’s life than I took in the previous twenty years combined. And every single one of those photos is so absolutely perfect that I can’t bear to delete it – EVEN IF IT’S BACKED UP IN THREE DIFFERENT PLACES.

So, yeah, I like my kid a little. To the point that sometimes I watch videos of her after she goes to bed, because being apart from her is just too much. I’m addicted to her cuteness.

Also, regarding my sad little overloaded computer: it may not have liked getting pushed off the kitchen counter by my cat a couple of years ago. Or maybe it just can’t think very well now that it is crammed full of adorable-ness. Either way, it doesn’t like to do things like run applications for more than about ten minutes without crashing.

So. Those are my excuses for being a totally lame blogger and depriving my dwindling audience of my tales of toddlerhood. Which sucks, because I still spend a lot of my time mentally composing long blogs that perfectly describe how absolutely amazing my child is.

So, to recap: my computer sucks. My kid is awesome. I will do better at proving the latter, despite the former.

In the meantime, if anyone has an extra brand-new macbook that’s weighing you down, feel free to pass it on to me.

Have I Mentioned How Amazing My Kid Is?

21 09 2012

I was peeling an apple for Hazel, and she saw me.  So of course, she immediately started whining because she wanted it.

“What do you say?” I asked, in the way that people who are around babies all day ask themselves questions out loud, then answer themselves.

But before I could provide myself with the correct response, Hazel signed please.

And totally blew my mind.

*Hazel has been signing “more” and “all done” for a few months now, and often signs “all done” spontaneously when she is finished eating, but we have only been working on “please” for a a couple of weeks.  And that she knew what word I wanted without me saying it, and in a new situation just boggles my mind.  Baby sign rocks.  Also, babies are scary: they know EXACTLY what you’re saying.  Fuck.

Who Is This Kid?

31 08 2012

A year ago, so much of what I was preparing for my almost-here baby seemed ridiculous: sippy cups, 18-month-sized clothes, toys bigger than a loaf of bread… It would be EONS before she could use any of that stuff.


Wrong.  A few months ago, our impressive collection of pint glasses was moved aside to make room for neon-colored, spill-proof cups.  My daughter is happily sleeping in pjs that aren’t exactly big on her, size 18 months.  Those toys, whose purpose I could not fathom as my infant daughter barely looked at them, are now spread throughout the house by an enthusiastic master of play time.  And while I worried for months about our large cat jumping on her and hurting her, now I fear for our cat’s well-being as our Godzilla of an almost-one-year-old spies him and leaps onto him from two feet away, shrieking like fire alarm the whole time.

And I have to ask…

Where the hell did my baby go?

I vaguely remember a time when I had a baby.  I think she was cute.  But someone came into our house and took away that squalling mess of vomit and poop and milky sweetness and left this intense, opinionated, intelligent, gorgeous toddler in her place.  A toddler who can buzz like a bee, moo like a cow, and EAT WITH A FORK (not effectively, but still – a fork?  She’ll probably be taking her SATs next week).

Already, I’ve had to adjust from a milk-and-baby-food regimen to  three healthy meals a day.  Mind you, I still get a rush of amazement each morning as I scramble eggs and broccoli and ham for the tyrant’s first meal of the day.  “Look at me!” I think.  “I’m acting like a mother!  Ha, ha, cooking breakfast, good joke.”  By dinner time, it’s more of a rush of panic: “She needs to eat AGAIN?  I haven’t had a minute to wash the breakfast and lunch dishes, and now she’s expecting ANOTHER MEAL?  I wonder if frozen peas and string cheese count as dinner?”

But she gives me big, open-mouth kisses on demand.  And so I knead pizza dough while she makes a playdough-and-Kleenex concoction and sneaks little tastes of it when she thinks I’m not looking, and I provide yet another meal for the insatiable little human who has taken the place of my little baby doll.

She’s learned to help me get her dressed, automatically moving her toy from one hand to the other as I put her shirt on (unless she’s in a mood, in which case she goes entirely rigid, grips her toy with both hands, and screams like her life is ending).  When the car stops, she eagerly looks around to see where we’ve turned up (the grocery store!  Target! the grocery store again!).  She knows about a million words (not including the treasures that begin with f and sh).  “Do you want anymore, or are we feeding this to Charlie?” I ask, and she looks pointedly at the dog dish.

I have to hide when I eat anything I don’t want to share, or when I don’t want to drink my water with a healthy dose of toddler backwash.

Her board books are all missing chunks where she’s managed to gum them to pieces.  But now, at bedtime, she spends ten or fifteen minutes flipping through the pages of “Happy Hippo, Angry Duck” and “The Bed Time Book,” as serious as a secretary doing her filing, while I sneak a few pages of my own book.

Every day since she was born, I have looked at her and thought, “I am going to miss the little person she is, right now, at this moment.”

And yet, the next day, I inevitably think, “THIS person she is today makes it worth losing the person she was just yesterday.”

So, I will never forget the baby I used to have, even as the memories of long nights and hazy days fade, leaving behind just the memories of a tiny, sweet, suckling angel.  But I am way too excited about the toddler I have now to miss that baby much.

And also too busy.  Because I have to go cook that toddler another meal.

New baby

Almost 3 months old

6 months old


9 months old

11 months old

A Fine Preview of Things To Come

15 08 2012

I will thank you in advance for not sending messages regarding how much more “fun” (ie impossible) parenting gets…

The other day, I gave Hazel a peeled banana, which she dug into.  As she got near the end, I reached over to pull off the yucky brown end of it.

Oh.  My.  God.

She absolutely erupted in enraged screams of indignation.  She went rigid in her high chair, eyes squeezed shut, tears flowing, lips curled, with this horrible screaming “EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE” coming out of her mouth between desperate gasps of oxygen.

I picked her up with apologies.

She tried to cling to my shirt with both hands, but she wouldn’t let go of the damn banana, which was tightly squished in her little fist, and as she tried to grasp me with that hand (further enraged because she couldn’t have her banana AND grab me with both hands), she repeatedly mashed the banana into my hair, neck, chest, and shirt.  All while wailing at top volume.

I mean, at that point, I was ready to glue that little brown banana bit back onto her fruit, but she was clearly past all reason.

The next time I gave her a banana, I just let her have the whole thing.  She ended up with a whole strip of peel in her mouth, which she actually chewed on for a minute or two, but it was better than 10 minutes of inconsolability because I dare suggest she only eat the inside of the fruit.  (For the record, she won’t eat a banana or any other fruit if it’s chopped up into pieces.  I mean, give me some credit for thinking of that.)

Honestly, you’d think I’d learn, but not a week later, I was again holding a tearful, shuddering,  fruit-flavored near-toddler in my lap after a nectarine incident.  We both got a shower after that meal.

T minus 4 seconds to total meltdown. How does that happen?

I can’t say I’m thrilled to be entering the tantrum zone, but it’s the flip side of all these amazing, awesome feats of discovery and awareness that my little girl is experiencing.

She has discovered OUT!  And IN!  “In” is kind of fun for her, but “Out” is ever so much better.  And so our days are spent with me packing the diaper bag, her unpacking it, me repacking it.  Same goes for her box of toys, the bookshelf, Dad’s computer bag, and the laundry basket.  One in a hundred items she pulls out goes back in.  At this point, though, I am so intrigued by watching her explore everything she finds (even if she just “found” it again for the millionth time today) that I am willing to play her little games.

She has progressed past the compulsion to immediately shove everything into her mouth.  So I just watch her as she pulls something out of my bag – a tube of Starbucks Via, for example – and see what she does.  She looks at it carefully, pondering what fabulous thing this might be.  She shakes it.  She scratches her index finger along the crimped end.  She bangs it on the floor.  She pinches at the contrasting colors of the logo.  Then she looks at it again, clenched in her fist, and looks back at the diaper bag.  She pauses.  Then, still clutching the tube in one hand, she digs in the bag with her other.  And finds something even more fascinating.  She drops the tube of coffee crystals and triumphantly holds a maxi pad in both hands, raises it in the air, and stares at it with a giant grin, as if to say, “AHA!  THIS is the wonderful prize they have been withholding from me all this time!”  And the process repeats.

Really, she imbues every mundane object in my life with a shiny glamour of exotic potential I never before considered possible.

“Hmmm… What delectable treasures await me in this paper bag? A receipt! I have always wanted one of my own! To crinkle, to tear, and finally – to eat!”

I see her making decisions now.  She knows she isn’t supposed to put driveway gravel in her mouth.  She plays happily with the rocks for awhile, then, holding a rock in her hand, she looks at me to see if I am watching.  Smiling, she slooooooowly brings it to her open mouth.  “Ah ah ah,” I say, shaking my head, and she actually laughs as she drops the rock back to the ground.  She isn’t even disappointed.  She can play that game over and over.  Of course, I totally lose if I’m not paying attention at the critical moment, because, oh yes, she will put it in her mouth if I don’t play my part according to the script.

(On the other hand, her response totally varies by mood.  “Ah ah ah,” I said today as she reached for an outlet.  She stopped immediately.  She paused a moment.  Then she collapsed in a wailing heap of devastated hope that today would be the day she finally got to play with that wonderful anomaly in our otherwise very dull wall.)

Every single minute of the day – even the sticky, fruit-covered, tear-filled minutes – I am stunned by the beauty of this little girl who is figuring out how to navigate this crazy world I brought her into.  My thoughts are something along the lines of “Oh, my god, you are doing it!  You are becoming a person!  I can see it happening!”  Which is, first of all, an understatement, and second of all, kind of obvious.  But it’s my daily miracle, because this isn’t just a baby turning into a kid, this is MY baby turning into MY kid.  It still blows my mind.

And, so it goes.  With the happy, inquisitive almost-one-year-old comes the fiercely stubborn and independent almost-one-year-old, and, really, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  She’s my baby, and if she wants to eat the nasty brown end of a banana, I’m going to let her.  And if she wants to play with the outlets, you’re probably going to hear her screams of determination from two states away.  And when she’s two?  I’m really curious to see what all she will have learned and who she will have become… and as far as the tantrums go?  Well, let’s face it.  I’m probably fucked.

Good thing she is so amazingly adorable. Like, really amazing. And really adorable. It’s mind-boggling.

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