Postscript: Fifteen Months: Hugs & Thank you

Dear MZ,

Although I already blogged about your acquisition of
thank you, your Dad reminds me that it is really worth a mention here, in my monthly letter to you, and he's right.

You started saying thank you a few weeks ago. At first, you said it whenever you handed something to us. Dak oo, and we'd take it. Then you began to use it when you wanted us to give you something, a pre-emptive thank you that never failed to charm us and nonplus the kids at the playground.

Since then, it's become one of your most beguiling habits. How can we refuse something when you've said thank you? And when we hand you something, you almost always say it, which surprises bystanders to no end. Did she say thank you? we hear over and over, and we can't help but beam.

We like to think that this habit of yours is the clear emergence of a winning personality, especially when combined with our other favorite word: hug! You holler hug whenever you want one, and especially from across the park or the playgroup. You understand that hug gets results, we drop pretty much everything when you say it. It's especially sweet when you're doing something you don't like, like an overly long and messy diaper change. At those times, you say it very softly and my heart melts completely, and when I hug you, the energy that passes from you to me powers me for hours.

Miriam, although you are displaying increasing will and frustration as your awareness of your ability to control your world expands, hug! and thank you make our month.

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Fifteen Months: I have people for that

Dear Miriam,

You are turning into a toddler in attitude if not in action. As your Aunt J. recently observed, when you greet a new thing, you don't look to us for a reaction; you look to us with an opinion.

You are charming and infuriating, whether you are hucking your food from your high chair or insisting on handling the teh-tone, or telephone. Your word count far surpasses 50, which is a good thing, because you can often tell us exactly what you want, even if we have no idea where you learned that word, or that desire.

When you were sick earlier this month, you had your Papa walking the halls with you, you fussed if he so much as looked at a chair. But on a lap through the kitchen, you spotted the cure for what ailed you: ba-na. Banana? How do you even know that word? Petrified of constipating you, I dole out bananas like they're some holiday treat, once a year will do. Yet there you were, insisting on a banana by name, and you devoured the whole thing and clamored for more. You've been requesting ba-na at least once a day since then, as well as crackers, beeps (grapes) and beep-beeps (any berry), (green) beans and peas-peas. You have this way of diminufying words, in spite of our refusal to talk baby talk with you, and darned if we don't find it utterly irresistible.

Papa is your name for Grandpa, it started off as Pap-pa, with two distinct p's, but has since settled into a reliable construction. This is the month you started calling us by name, Papa first, then Mommy, then Daddy, followed by Eh-MAY (Esme) and Moki. Your grandmothers and aunties are not yet named, but we think the multiples confuse you. We can't imagine why you'd name Yudi, given that
he's still mostly petrified of you. But you do know Henry, an irresistible Prince of Bernal; we think he won your heart by pushing you around in your pushcart.

Which brings us to the title of this month's letter. MZ, you threaten to be quite a little princess with your imperious ways. When you want something and don't know the word, you merely grunt and point languidly, knowing that someone will surely bring it to you. You refuse to walk, or even to crawl sometimes, and if a ball rolls out of your reach, you will say ball over and over, pointing, to make your expectation clear. This morning I left the room while you were in your highchair with your cereal, and when I returned, you had hucked every single crumb onto the floor, in concentric circles that made clear your mounting annoyance at being left to dine alone.

But your communication is sweet, too. You holler hug! from across the room when you're missing us, you nuzzle into us every morning while you have your bot-tle, you tell us up when you want to be held. You holler up! up! in the swing at the park, until you're done, when you quietly say all done. Your requests culminate fifteen minutes into any car ride, when you call out all done, then up! and finally, hug! in a mostly-cooperative attempt to let us know you're ready to be out of your car seat.

Your shift to one nap a day is proving quite a challenge. No longer do I have an hour or two to collect myself each morning. Now when you're up, you're up, and I find it difficult to do anything at all around the house. I barely manage to get some clothes on while you dervish around the room, and when I pick you up and say let's go, you squeal and kick your feet with glee. While you still greet new experiences with watchful quiet, in no time you are hollering gibberish, then throwing yourself into the adventure, whether it's climbing the stairs to a slide or figuring out how to make a push-toy go without actually walking. You've learned open and close this month, and are always on the lookout for something to open, whether it's the liquor cabinet or a new book.

Miriam, I am exhausted these days trying to keep up with you, but I'm also delighted with these changes and the chance to spend more awake time with you. Every nice day (which have been sadly rare in recent months) includes a trip to the park, and you are great company at the grocery store, where you greet people happily and lunge at colorful packaging. I'm looking forward to trips to the zoo and the Discovery Museum, now that we don't have to cram everything into the 3-4 hours between naps. Hey, kiddo, let's go see the world!

Love, love and more love,


Gone missing...

MZ now sleeps just once/day and I have no idea when I'll ever blog again. Just three hours each day to do everything I used to do. Yes, they're consecutive, that's nice. But by the time we get there I'm exhausted, and she's not even walking yet.

Plus, now she's on a different schedule from the rest of her peers, so while we're out of the house earlier, and I'm remembering how much I like morning air, when we get to the park I don't know anyone there. Not a soul.

Whine, whine, I know, but let me tell you a little secret: now I understand why I like(d) being a SAHM. I rarely felt isolated. Monday? Rec center, lots of moms I know, MZ clearly having a blast. Great! Tuesday? Living the
errands lifestyle, doing some non-profit work. Adult interaction and we're not talking about kids! Wednesday? Neighborhood playgroup with a great group of moms, and MZ has fun, too. Thursday? More errands lifestyle, but the end of the week is near. Friday? Free day! Maybe see grandparents, maybe go to the pool, impromptu playgroup with one of my friends from my pre-MZ life and their child(ren).

Sure, life is not quite as, um, intellectually challenging as it used to be, but it's programmed, she's only up for 3-4 hours at a time, I have me time, too, and heck, she's a kick in the pants, and so what's not to like?

But now there are hours and hours to fill, and I know no one who is doing what we're doing when we're doing it. And she is busy. She can get into anything. Yesterday I locked her in the bathroom with me while I took a shower. I gave her her container of bath toys, thinking that had to be safe. I don't do bath duty in our house, so I didn't know there was a bar of soap at the bottom. Guess what she decided to play with? Not the ducky, not the squeaky buddha with a cell phone, not the Nemo-inspired school of squirting fish. Yes, the soap. I ducked behind the shower curtain for five minutes and there was soap everywhere.

Plus, she's not walking, so we can't even go to the new time slot at the rec center, lest she be mowed over by tricycling 4-year-olds.

We'll be fine, it's just a few weeks till everyone else is sleeping at this time, too. But the now is quite an adjustment.
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Interim notes

I just lost a whole big Passover post when Explorer locked up. I'm going to push through my grief with some unrelated tidbits...

The toy depicted here is exactly the kind of toy I swore we'd never own. It makes noise(s), it's plastic, it's battery-operated, and it turns out it has almost no merit as a developmental toy. MZ loves it like no other.

* * *

A few days ago at breakfast, she was hucking her food around once she was done, as usual. And as usual, I would pick up the piece of food, place it in the corner of her tray and say All done here. And she would huck it again. On the third go-round, I took the tray away. Then she asked for agua. R. gave it to her, and she took a big gulp, and looking right at me, she dribbled the entire mouthful out of her mouth and down her face. She did not laugh, she just matched my gaze. R. looked at me and said, You're screwed.

* * *

Speaking of screwed, we've become totally addicted to
Big Love, which also has no developmental merit. We watch four shows: Sopranos, the Daily Show, Scrubs and Big Love. I have no explanation. Anyway, we await new episodes with almost as much anticipation as we do The Sopranos. And each and every episode I find myself hollering at Barb, If you have no respect for yourself, how can you do this to your daughters?!? Yet still I watch.
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Everything's coming up roseola!

I had this whole Pesach post going in my head, and some recipes planned for pickyfingers, but MZ has her first earache, which it turns out is also a case of roseola, and all our plans are farkakte.

It's worth noting that MZ had her first fever on Yom Kippur, and I missed that observance completely. This week, we canceled our plans to spend 1st and 2nd nights with friends. Our big family seder is still a go for Saturday.

However, the more immediate picture: we've never seen MZ with a 103 fever and bodyaches before. She's on the mend now, all splotchy and even kind of giggly. But for three days she was miserable, so sad and sluggish and clingy. I spent hours holding her, that's all she really wanted. We'd lie on the sofa, and periodically she's attempt to participate in the life around her, with Hi cat or ball or book, but only just barely. When her dad or Pappa held her, she wouldn't let them sit, they had to walk her around the house till their backs ached. I returned to resting next to her crib to help her get to sleep, it was so clearly not a time for self-soothing.

This was all very difficult in practice, like having a 20-pound newborn. But what I didn't expect was the pain her pain would cause us. Beyond the normal pregnancy anxiety, I knew I would love my daughter. I just had no idea how much, and what that would feel like, how her pain would become my own, and how consuming that would be. As I held her on the sofa, my chest would tighten whenever she whimpered. I ached for her, could barely manage to keep from crying with her, had to remind myself that two crying moaning people were not going to get her better. I cheered with every sip of water, and we were positively jubilant when she lunged for my plate one night, and devoured a meal that seemed hearty after eating almost nothing for 24 hours.

We knew what was happening and when to expect her to feel better, but those three days lasted an eternity, and I've never been so happy to see a smile as I was today, when she woke up, not quite happy, but not crying. [What the hell am I going to do when she gets her first flu?]

I wish I had some clever analogy to Passover, but I don't, I'm too tired. I'm just so glad she's on the mend.


Sign her up for MENSA!

We're having a debate in our extended family about how many words MZ knows. My current count hovers around 45, but her Pappa and her Grandma S. think the list is much longer. Of course, they add any word she chirps, parrot-like, after they say it 50 or 60 times. I maintain that a word isn't hers until she can initiate it in context.

Meanwhile, her Auntie S. thinks she might be a genius. I can't remember why, exactly, but she said it with the touching earnestness of someone posessed with a serious case of baby blinders.

I love that she's so verbal. It's an absolute ball, but also, MZ is so not about the physical and the physical has been the benchmark for development up to now. Every week I get a
Babycenter newsletter that assumes she's somewhere she's not: teething, crawling, walking. She's the only kid in her playgroup who shows almost no interest in walking (witness the photo of King Henry pushing her in her walker wagon).

This hasn't been a source of any more worry than is normal for first-time-parents. I mean, they all get teeth, right? But when the newsletter came through this week proclaiming that at 14 months, "some early talkers may have as many as 20 words in their vocabulary," I enjoyed that blast of parental pride, and felt like she's truly getting something useful from us.

I was a late teether, and our genes certainly aren'
t going to provide any athletic scholarships. But one thing R. and I know how to do is talk. Talk, talk, talk, all day long. And MZ will mimic almost anything now, including a siren as we were crossing the street the other day, which gave me such a heart attack I almost dropped her. So while she's choosy about what words she will retain (and I contend that it is a choice, since she still refuses to say Cheers after months of exposure), she is extremely enthusiastic about being a part of the conversation.

Thank you continues to be an all-purpose conversation starter. She hands out books, saying thank you to ask us to read them. She holds out her hand to babies at the rec center, amd says thank you to indicate she wants the toy they're playing with. And when she's done with something, she shoves it in our direction with a preemptive thank you to indicate we should take it. She's also learning Go, and spent a good bit of this morning in her dad's arms, saying G-g-g-go at regular intervals to let him know she wanted to be taken someplace new.

We love this much more than the imperious outstretched arm and grunt that still stands in for commands she hasn't yet mastered, the one that makes us feel at risk of becoming handmaids to Princess Miriam. Posted by Picasa