Archives for the month of: April, 2012

The war began, before her nap, in a small way: a small spot on her face, a small spot on her right heiny cheek – like bug bites. After her nap, her body was a blossoming and blooming of pink puffiness, like an 80’s jacket gone awry, a hive of activity. The war was in full swing. The heiny spot was the size of a navel orange, with smaller spots marching down her leg, up her torso, and down her arm, fanning out in formation. Her right cheek was swollen as if from hand-to-face combat. Oddly, only her right side suffered, itchy, red, and angry, as if this reaction and her body had drawn a line of demarcation in their war against each other.

A trip to the pediatrician’s office yielded little: not poison oak, not poison ivy, but hives, an allergic reaction to…something. Yes, certainly, something. No new foods, no clear insect bites? ¬†Ah. Well. Give her 1/2 tsp. of Benadryl and use hydrocortisone to fend off the encroaching army. If you have further problems, call.

And so it was. After her nap the next day, the battle shifted to her left side, with her left cheek, leg, and side of her torso entering the fray. What did the battle plan look like, and how much of her topographical map did the forces intend to cover? We feared for her valleys and plains, mountains and plateaus.

By the next day, Sunday, however, the war fizzled. The sides forgot what they were fighting over. The last remaining territories, her ankles, went out with only small skirmishes. The troops departed.

We were none the wiser about the cause, but then again, the true causes of war are often obfuscated.

And all was quiet on the toddler’s front. And back.

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“Mama, you drive car…go back…to our home.”

She strung this one together last night as we left our weekly potluck dinner, early, at her request. It was dark, with a bright planet shining in the sky, and I’d heard the word “Mama” floating from the back seat followed by more talk, but I hadn’t heard the rest. Sometimes she talks earnestly to herself. I didn’t respond. “Mama,” she began again. “Yes, sweet girl?” I asked. And there it was. Her longest original sentence to date. This wasn’t just repeated lines from us; this was what she can do with language. She always imbues the word “home” with a note of plaintiveness, as if the only remedy for her woe is our return home. It makes no difference that it’s an apartment, and one which we will soon have to leave. It’s home, and it’s a good place for us to go, one of comfort and safety and calm (the untidiness that always surrounds us notwithstanding). “Go home,” she’ll often say if we’re out and things get stressful. She has some good sense already.

In this case, it really was good that she had us leave early, too, because after our really stressful day, we both fell apart, and while I only made myself damp with tears, she made herself and the floor wet with the barely-digested applesauce and tomato she’d eaten. Off came the clothes, the better to leave the day and its travails behind, for the cleansing shower.

It was better that we were home.

“I will hold my Boo-Boo!” she orated, standing on the bed in the semi-darkness, wispy blondish hair splaying out from her head as she shook her head from side to side. “I pat Boo-Boo!” The head shaking continued, accompanied by a serious look not unlike a teacher looking down her nose, a dare for me to interrupt her. I did not. She added more about Boo-Boo eating cat food, then added bits about her being sick, then “I pat her.” Her arms were drawn forward, towards the now-only-remembered feline.

My daughter turned down my kind offer to put her to sleep early, so we left the semi-darkness of the bedroom for the quasi-darkness of the living room, and here I sit, typing; her daddy just came home. As he opened the door, the fading light of evening framing him, she shook her head again, emphatically, and said, “I won’t pat Boo-Boo any more.”

And she’s right. She can’t. She was there, way back in December, four months ago, for Boo-Boo’s last moments. But where does this…this knowledge of the world, all this memory, come from? In my almost two-year-old?

“I won’t pat my Boo-Boo any more,” she said, minutes later.

No, my sweet girl, you won’t.

I tried. Three nights in a row, I left her in her crib until she fell asleep. The first night, you know about. The second night was smooth: she didn’t cry, fell asleep quickly, hooray! Then she woke up every half an hour for an hour and a half. The third night, she cried for twenty-five minutes (a few of those hysterically) and was finally quiet. I peeked in ten or fifteen minutes later, and there she stood, cherubic in her naked-baby glory, head resting forlornly on her hands as she stood at the end of her crib. In all, she was in there for an hour without sleeping, and that was as much as I could stand. I did a few dishes, got ready for bed, and hopped into bed myself; we went to sleep together at the early hour of 8:30.

The next morning at breakfast, I asked her how she felt, expecting the usual “Happy!” accompanied by her cheerful morning smile. “Sad,” she said. When I asked her why, she told me that she was sad in her crib. “I cry in crib [but it comes out ‘tib.’] Mama hold? I take off jammies.”

Oh. Crying alone in a crib may not hurt children, and this approach may – and seems to be – really effective for some. I just know that it made my girl sad, so sad that she remembered to tell me about it the next day.

I also blame it on her ruined napping schedule. Napping had been glorious: Since late December/early January, she’d have a little snack and a bit to drink, I’d put her on the potty, then we’d read a story. I might sing one short song, and I’d leave her in her crib. She might talk to herself and her stuffed animals a bit, and then she’d sleep for anywhere from an hour and a half to two hours. The sad day, she only napped for an hour. The next day, she didn’t nap at all, even though I tried twice, leaving her in her crib for forty minutes to an hour each time (no crying on her end, but no sleeping, either). Today, she only napped for about forty minutes in the car; she didn’t go to sleep in her crib when I put her down for a nap. *sigh*

No, crying it out isn’t for me. It isn’t for her, either.