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.


She Will Wear Pink Dresses and Play in the Dirt

28 06 2012

Because life is short.

Because I have to do laundry, anyway.

Because all too soon, dirt won’t be as much fun.

Because she’s growing up too fast.

Because she’s almost too big for these clothes.

Because we have nothing better to do.

Because dirt means baths, and baths are fun.

Because of hidden treasures. Like sticks and rocks.

Because if you’re bored with a baby, put her down to see what she’ll do.  Then pick her up so you can run into the house for the camera.  Then start taking photos.  And an hour later, wonder how time went by so fast.

Because time does go by fast.

So she’ll wear her pink dress.

And play in the dirt.

Big Girl, Part 2

27 04 2012

So, along with her gross motor skills, my kid is making great strides in the area of gastronomy.

She ate filet mignon.


Mostly, though, she eats mushed up fruits and vegetables that I create by slaving over the proverbial – and literal – hot stove.  I did give in and buy some of those new-fangled pouches of organic baby food.  And, because I was hundreds of miles from home, feeding her in my mom’s car in a gas station parking lot, I tried letting her suck the puree from straight from the pouch.

Baby.  Crack.

I can make the exact same exotic blend of squash and apples, and she will eat it from a bowl with a spoon.  Most of the time.  But if she sees a baby food pouch, she will shriek and flap her arms and grin and babble and scream until she gets her hands on it.

Oh, well.  She probably prefers disposable diapers, too.

The benefit of her emerging skills at eating without choking means that I can sometimes give her a tray of finger foods and she can exist more than twelve inches away from me.  And after seven months of carrying her around like a baby monkey, I am giddy with the ability to fold a load of laundry while my daughter is happily chasing blueberry puffs around a tray with her pudgy little fingers.

Even if it means that I will later be carrying her around like a baby monkey while I pick up the puffs from the floor, the chair, the tray, her clothes, her ears, my hair, and, inexplicably, my pockets.

Big Girl, Part 1

26 04 2012

So, we had a few sunny days, and as soon as the sun came out, I thought “Oh! I want a picture of my baby sitting in the spring green grass!”  But, alas, it seemed a little chancy.  As in, she was as likely to tip over and bash her head on a rock as to sit upright for long enough for me to snap a pic.

Tipping over?  That was, like, SO last week.


Of course, it’s raining now.  But when the sun comes out again?  Watch out, grass.  My baby is coming.  And she is going to eat you.

But only after she sits long enough for me to get a picture.

7 Months / Easter Afternoon

10 04 2012

Happy Easter!

7 04 2012

There are only two times a year when it’s socially acceptable to terrorize your child: Christmas and Easter.

My daughter has, from an early age, shown a marked preference for me (naturally enough, I suppose, since I’m her mother).  So when we went to visit Santa, I felt I was GUARANTEED one of those baby-screaming-on-Santa’s-lap photos.  Not that I was, you know, looking forward to it, I just thought it was inevitable.  My relief (disappointment) when she happily sat in the arms of the weird bearded guy was slightly mitigated by the fact that she immediately pooped (though I will never forgive the well-fitting Fuzzibuns diaper that heroically contained the mess and therefore ruined a truly picture-perfect photo op).

Three months later, my girl is all the more aware of people who are NOT HER MOM.  She is known to start screaming STRANGER DANGER! if someone other than me tries to hold her (like her dad).  So when I saw this mall Easter Bunny, I thought for sure we would get an angry/scared/indignant-baby-pic.


She was enchanted.  This thing was like her teddy bear!  Like her stuffed dog!  Like all her favorite toys in GIANT, LIFE SIZE form and it was HOLDING HER!

She immediately did to the Easter Bunny what she does to all her favorite toys: she tried to eat him.

It was, like, the best day of her life.

She was SO HAPPY that I wasn’t even sorry that she kind of preferred him to me… Well, I might have been, if her joy had lasted a few more minutes before she decided she wanted her mom back.


Six Months

7 03 2012

Last night, my plan was to let you re-learn to sleep in your crib after your 3-week cold that had you sleeping in my bed again.  You woke up about an hour after I put you down, and started to cry.  I went upstairs and talked to you and sang to you and rubbed your back, and you just screamed louder, because what you wanted was to be picked up.

And you know what?

I picked you up.

Not right away.  I tried to let you cry so you would learn that you need to sleep, in your crib, without nursing ALL NIGHT LONG.  But I just couldn’t do it.

Because you wanted to be held.  And I was right there.  To hold you.

You are six months old now.  You are such a big girl.  When I cradle you to nurse, there is so much of you, such a substantial weight on my lap.  So different than the six-pound baby I first knew.

Now, when I nurse you, you look up at me and touch my face.  Well, really, you kind of maul my face, picking my nose and stabbing my eye and exploring my mouth with your curious little fingers.  But at night, when you are sleep-nursing, you just gently reach up and make sure I am there.

You are so interested in the world these days.  I wonder, all day long, what you are thinking now that you are aware of everything around you.  As I carry you upstairs for a diaper change, something will catch your eye as you are borne past it, and I know that it is just a short time until you find a way to reach all the little objects that now you only wave your hands at in hopes of being able to grab them.

You have developed a knack for attention-getting.  As your dad and I stood in the pet store debating what brand of cat food to get, you smiled and cooed at nearby customers until – they just couldn’t help it – they began to smile and coo back at you.

You enjoy squeezing handfuls of the cat’s fur and trying to get some of it into your mouth.

When you first wake up, you TALK and TALK and TALK.

Today, at a play date, I was adding some grapes to the plate of crackers on my lap, and in a nanosecond, you had two fistfuls of crackers in your hands and were trying to get them all in your mouth at once.  If you had tried just one, you would have been successful; your mouth just wasn’t big enough for two hands and three crackers, so you missed your chance.  And that is how you attack everything in life these days: you want it all, and you want all RIGHT NOW.

You took your first fishing trip with your dad.  I’m sure you had fun, but NOTHING compared to how much fun your dad had.  He can’t wait to share all his hobbies with you.

I’m so excited about the person you have become that I hardly have time to miss that little baby you were just a short time ago.

Six months ago, I was just meeting you.  It seems like YESTERDAY.  And it will seem like no time at all has gone by when suddenly you will have problems too complex to be solved with milk and a warm lap.

And so, right now, when you cry because you want to be held?

I will hold you.

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