Archives for the month of: March, 2011

Napping. It’s probably second behind sleeping for baby issues that give parents fits. We call it little night-night and hope for the best.

The best rarely happens, though. Take yesterday: after forty-five minutes, she finally fell asleep for her morning nap. At last! Hurrah! I started to leave the room and opened the door (which doesn’t stay open by itself), and c..r..e..a..k… She stirred. She might be up. I held onto what little hope remained. Then – an exuberant MMRRROOWWWW!

I’ve learned not to make eye contact with our youngest cat when she’s in the bedroom and I’m trying to get the baby to sleep. Usually, then, she’ll leave – quietly – with me.

This time, no eye contact. It didn’t matter.

The baby was up.

I gave up. Baby and I went to the hardware store and bought some graphite, then we stopped at the grocery store. We came home and ate lunch, and I fixed the hinge before her afternoon nap (her one nap of the day yesterday), which lasted two hours and twenty minutes. Miraculous! Silence can be a wonderful, wonderful thing.

And I discovered that anew this morning. After two days of no morning nap, I thought I’d try one more time. She should be tired. She’s a baby. She’s eleven months old, exactly. We read stories (including one of her favorites, Always, by Ann Stott, illustrated by Matt Phelan), and she wiggled. She tried to gnaw the buttons on the pillows. She fidgeted. She stood up and grabbed the headboard and sidled sideways. She crawled towards the end of the bed. She lost interest in nursing and wanted to look at books. She wriggled.

It was, again, a trying time. I put her in her crib. She stood, I laid her down. Reread this last sentence about a half a dozen times, then go to the next sentence. Finally, I thought, I’ll just put her in her crib and leave and see what happens. I don’t go for the crying thing, so I’m not prepared to wait a long time. No crying. No crying. No crying.

I had to look. Was she sleeping? Had she somehow hurt herself and couldn’t cry? (How quick we parents can be to panic!) I peeked, and there she was, asleep, in her crib. I’ll just go in and cover her up, I thought; her feet were bare, and I didn’t want her to be cold. I entered, and the door was blessedly silent. The cat stayed out of the room. Then my ankles creaked, she stirred, I dropped to the ground – and like a parent catching a kid sneaking in late, she caught me as she stood in her crib and looked accusingly through the bars at her ridiculous mama hunkered down beside the bed. Whom was I kidding?

Why can’t I let well enough alone?

For the second miracle of the day, I laid her down again, I patted her, and left. She fretted for a bit and did her rolly-toss-herself-around-the-crib thing, and silence.

This time, I’m staying out.

If my daughter is indecisive, she can blame it on me. Unless she considers blaming it on someone else.

While my difficulties run from choosing a sandwich from the menu (what if I get the reuben then wish I’d gotten the falafel?) to what to read all the way up to bigger decisions, babies, it seems, have it easy: what is there to decide? They don’t dress themselves, they don’t choose what they get to eat, they don’t really get to direct their activities, either. And so, it seems, babies have few decisions to make. They go with the flow (or stop the flow of food by closing a mouth or turning a head, resulting in pureed peas or bits of fragrant, ripe pear being smeared on odd parts of the head, like above her ear – how does she have that kind of timing?). And yet…

She has a little hammer set. If you sit in front of her and hand her a “nail” – a colorful cylinder of wood in red, yellow, green, or blue – she holds it. Hand her another, she takes it but drops the first. Hand her the first, she drops the second. Which does she want? I don’t think she knows, herself. With so many color options, how could you be sure which is best? You can’t.

She’s much the same with cheese. At nearly eleven months old, her eating repertoire has widened; pizza and strawberries produced more vomit, but peas, pureed or whole without skins, now pass, and she has enjoyed both curry and tandoori chicken. Just think what culinary delights her second year will bring! In addition to the rotating food items, many foods are staples, including cheese, of which my husband whole-heartedly approves. He’d live on cheese if he could. Really, he almost does, and, in keeping with her looks, her cheese habit is trying to live up to her father’s.

She sits in her highchair. When her tray is empty, the cheese calls to her. “Bah!” she exclaims earnestly, pointing. I love the newfound language skills, the many ways she can intone “bah” with meaning – the single “bah,” the double “bah-bah,” the searching, the questioning, the excited, the curt, the drawn-out; actors could learn much from these small creatures on a big stage. As if she’s saying “cheese,” she leans into it this time, trying to ensure that I don’t misunderstand: not the garbanzo beans, but the cheese.

A small pile of shredded cheddar mounds in the middle of her tray. Shred by shred, she lifts the cheese to her mouth, often smacking her lips and slurping in satisfaction. Then, it’s like she’s looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. She lifts one shred, discards it, chooses another, and steers the appointed bit to her mouth. Maybe it makes it; maybe it doesn’t. Two fingers follow the cheese in, sometimes more, as if auditing the work, yet often the cheese sneaks out, escaping its fate and falling to the floor. Sometimes she chews anyhow – the actor, going on with the show. Other times, she looks around. If it merely tumbled to her lap, she’ll sometimes rescue the cheese in distress. Then she returns to the cheese haystack, sorting, discarding, eating, until even the out-of-favor cheese becomes the in-favor cheese.

In baby decision making, a no can become a yes – unless the “no” is mashed potatoes; throwing up was no act.