Archives for the month of: May, 2011

Today was big. Epic. Well, maybe that overstates what’s possible for a 22 lb. 12 oz. girl of 13 months and 2 days of age, but I was impressed.

Let me back up (I’ll return to this idea later) a bit. Mother’s Day was memorable this year – and maybe more memorable than April 17th. If I thought a step was miraculous, I don’t know what that leaves me with, because on Mother’s Day, she started walking. In earnest. One, two, three, four happy toddling steps, a grin of accomplishment lighting up her eyes like the steady light of the sun on a cloudless day. Again, then again, she toddled and tottered between us, walking toward toys, walking toward us, walking toward a future that will involve running and falling and climbing the many bookcases populating our apartment. A step was exciting, but real walking is astonishing, the real rite of initiation into toddlerhood.

“Touchdown!” my husband often says as she stutter-steps across the room, arms raised in the air like a goalpost, a minute football player ready to celebrate any victory. Her balancing act is charming. She’s taken to carrying objects, no longer reduced to dragging them behind her, grinning joyfully all the while. Her speed-crawling, lightning fast, is still interspersed with her walking, but it’s fading, soon to be relegated to the cobwebby past.

So she walks. She knows the moon and points to it in the sky and in books. She signs for books and more and milk, among others, and she’s finally learning the one for hurt (which is what I feel when she gets tired and treats my lower lip like a taffy pull). She can say moon and dog and many other things and just learned to say “turtle” this week. She has eight teeth including her first molar, the top left one next to the not-yet-present incisor, which just put in an appearance two days ago. She can moo and meow and imitate a dog, and she can make her hand like a lobster claw and pound her chest like a gorilla. My chest swells (with pride, not injury) at all of her baby skills.

Today’s additions were no different; they left us cheering “Touchdown!”, regardless of her arm placement.

Her little ball rolled away, and the cat, being much like my daughter, would happily have batted and played with it, too, until it came to rest in a location known only to her and to be found only upon moving or divine intervention. I didn’t have that kind of time. “Go get the ball!” I encouraged my daughter. She stood up, navigating the challenge of a dress that’s a little on the long side and not stepping on the hem, walked to the ball, and picked it up. She did what I asked! She understood! After our cheering, she beamed. “Bring it to Mommy!” I asked, on a high from our success. With a smile still shooting out rays of sunshine, she walked away from me and around the corner. She always has had a mind of her own.

Later, we were playing with her little soccer ball. I wanted us to sit facing each other and roll the ball back and forth (or try to), but she, being an independent-minded baby, had other ideas. As I sat on the floor, legs splayed, she stood in front of me, facing away, and took a few tentative steps backwards before plopping herself down. She sat between my knees. She stood again, took a few steps backwards, and sat again, nicely nestled with her back against my front, and there she stayed. Not only did she walk backwards, her first (and very successful) attempt at this, she judged distance and chose to be close to Mama. If my chest bursts, it’s going to get messy.

People say that babies get better, that they get more interesting, that they’re cuter than ever. I don’t think that’s true. I think she is as cute as ever, and she’s always been interesting to me; to say otherwise suggests that something was lacking in her infant self. I loved the baby that could almost but not quite lift her head. I loved the baby that learned to roll over. I loved the baby that pulled herself up on my leg. I loved the baby that learned to crawl after doing her own version of downward facing dog. I loved the baby that said “Hi!” as her first word then didn’t say it again for months. And I love this baby that is walking around like she just won the district championship with the final touchdown. We celebrate her; we carry her on our shoulders, and we know that she is as cute, as wonderful, as good as ever.

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Lots of kids have a favorite toy or a security object that they cart around: a teddy bear, a blanket (often something satiny), something. Although she seems to be warming to stuffed animals in general, my daughter doesn’t seem to have a particular affinity for any particular object, at least not yet.

But she has gotten the notion to cart objects around.

The black mini-backpack lay on the floor. I’ve been using it as a very inglorious purse, one that lets me haul around a diaper plus her water bottle plus the usual needs, like keys and a wallet and expired coupons that I never intended to use anyhow. With one strap, it’s certainly not a daypack or even a bookbag (although I currently have a copy of Sylvia Long’s version of Hush Little Baby in there, a nice nature-filled twist on the materialistic original). It has little bungee crisscross cords in an “x” across the front (for holding in small blankets for hour-long camping trips?). My daughter crawled up to it (she still has not gone more than one or two steps at a time, and even then, it’s not an everyday thing!), grabbed the bungee cords, and pulled them towards her. They did what bungee cords do: they stretched. The bag stayed where it was.

Not one to take “no” for an answer, my small determined (read: stubborn) girl pulled while leaning at the same time, and the bag shifted. We marveled at the fact that she figured out how to make it move on her own and didn’t just leave the bag where it was. Then she began to crawl, the cords in her hand, and dragged the bag along with her. Its pattern was the same as her first movement of it: pull, stay, PULL, move; pull, stay, PULL, move. Every few moves, she’d stop to rest. A couple of times, she even sat on the pack itself. (Since it had a water bottle in it, I don’t see how it could have been very comfortable, but then again, I don’t have the kind of ¬†padding a cloth diaper has to offer!) We watched her for nearly twenty minutes as she trekked around the room with the bag, engrossed in her work.

Not content to rest on her laurels, she’s since toted around an empty cooler, the mini-backpack again, her highchair, Pinkie the stuffed penguin, and the diaper bag. She’s hauled around her Fisher-Price Go Baby Go! Bat and Wobble Penguin, a tallish plasticized creature with colorful balls inside its clear plastic belly. Apparently, she thought he needed to learn, so she took him by the wing and brought him over to the bookcase and began to pull out books. He’s not as good at turning the pages as she is, however.

Her world, which used to revolve around her and her alone, is widening, and she doesn’t want to explore it alone. She needs to be prepared, so she’s bringing things with her. You never quite know when an expired coupon might come in handy.