Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Step Two: There's So Much We Can Do

And did I mention how well he takes direction?

Last night, after a day spent hurling out a stomach virus, Mr. Baby got up on his dehydrated little legs and took his first independent steps. He actually looked like he'd done it before and sort of seemed embarrassed to have been caught looking so adept at it. And then he refused to do it again.

Another milestone passed at hyper-speed.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Gimme Three Steps

You're adorable, Mr. Baby. No one's denying that. But next week? You turn fifteen months old. I don't want to, you know, pressure you or anything, but a lot of fifteen-month-olds can walk. Not all of them, of course. But, um ... a lot of them. A majority, I'd say. And the ones who can't tend to have mothers who can't help but wonder if there's some developmental abnormality causing their kid to be on the far side of the normal spectrum, even though that's what the spectrum is for.

I'm trying not to worry, let alone panic. I know you have some amazing physical skills that some pre-schoolers are still mastering. And I know that you inherited my cautiousness; I've never seen a baby so aware of his surroundings and the requirements to travel safely within them. If you put your foot out and don't touch something solid, you stay put. So, I just wanted to let you know, in case it hasn't been proven to you yet, that the ground isn't going anywhere. It's going to be right there every time you reach for it, at least until college. Which I can't promise will be true about my lower back.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Way We Were

A while back, I posted about the sense of loss I felt about being so geographically distant from the places I grew up. My Memphis friends rarely see a week go by that they don’t run into an old teacher or fellow Girl Scout or the stoner-turned-Republican from high school. Being a creature of habit and a fan of familiarity, moving as often as I have in my life has been very disruptive in frequent short-term ways, but it’s also created a long-term chasm between my past and present.

And then I found the wormhole through that chasm: Facebook. I knew it was for me the minute I saw it. A social utility? There is not a tool I need more!

I quickly connected with all my local friends, and then plundered the rolls of my high school and college classes. At that point, my Facebook friend list looked pretty much like my current email address book. But then I got to wondering … what would happen if I entered the graduating classes of the schools I would have attended if the twists of my father’s career path hadn’t dragged us across the Midwest and back?

With just a little bit of fibbing, I slid into the virtual hallways of my Michigan non-alma-mater, the high school I’d have eventually reached if I’d stayed in the nascent freaky-gifted program I was in during our one year in the wilds of Plymouth, MI. Thanks to the fact that I still have that class’s attendance roll memorized, I was able to spot the few other survivors; they even had a reunion page running. I also located my former next-door neighbor, a close friend during that year who completely vanished from my radar after I made my first solo plane trip to visit her the summer after 4th grade.

And then I cranked the Way Back Machine all the way to my educational beginnings. I hypothetically joined the graduating class of our Pittsburgh school district, where I lived between the ages of 3-to-8-years-old. I scrolled through a few pages before seeing any familiar names and had almost given up when I stumbled across a former neighbor and frequent playmate. When she responded to my friend request (which included a note in case she didn’t recall the sturdy little blonde girl who moved out of the neighborhood in 1985), she said that whenever she busted out the Strawberry Shortcake dolls with her daughters, it reminded her of playing at my house. I’m still awaiting confirmation from someone who I’m 90% sure was one of my closest childhood friends, which would officially make her my first Facebook classmate ever: we went to pre-school together.

Unlike MySpace, all of the personal pages on Facebook are private by default, so you can’t see anyone’s current information (other than name, possibly location, and sometimes a tiny picture) unless you knock on their virtual door and ask them to let you in. I guess this is where the social part comes in, and it’s the part that’s the most stressful for me. I know exactly whose friendship I requested, and I have a mental list of the people who chose not to offer it. In that way, it’s a little more like high school (and junior high) than I’d like. But for the most part, people are welcoming and friendly and indulgent of my nostalgic basking. It’s not quite the same as running across your old Mathlete teammate at Target, but at least I don’t have to worry about how my hair looks.

Monday, September 15, 2008

One Moment In Time

After a full week of sleepless, nurse-a-thon nights, Mr. Baby finally had a calm evening, only waking up twice (that I remember) overnight and exhibiting a rare respect for my personal space. And instead of jolting awake at 6:30 and cry-crawling around the house while I try desperately to get the three of us ready in the morning, he slept until it was time to take Miss M to school. And then he gently and happily woke up, smiling and talking while I changed his diaper and put him in warmer clothes for the 57-degree walk to school. He was his usual content, drowsy self during our morning walk, but as I took him back out of the stroller and got ready to drop him into his carseat for the ride to Mama KT’s, I noticed something was different. His body had a weight and concentration. He wasn’t wiggling or trying to look around for the nearest small animal. He was melted into me, his arms around my neck, his autumn-cool cheek against mine.

He was hugging me.

I stood there in the street, the car door open, and hugged him back. I knew he’d cry when I put him down. I knew he’d cry when I dropped him off. I held his soft, sleepy body as long as I could, because I knew that moment of peace and comfort would be the best thing in my day.

Monday, September 08, 2008

I Want To Take You Out To The Fair

So instead of our usual backyard party, I decided to go all out and take Miss M and her two best buds, C and S, to the Delta Fair for her birthday. I thought this was a brilliant idea, especially since there was a free circus on-site. We'd get in for the nominal admission fee and have a relatively inexpensive day of fun and fair-time frolic. As it turns out, my math was a little off. But fortunately, so was theirs.

The Delta Fair, By The Numbers

Fee for that "plentiful, safe parking" they advertised on the radio: $5.00
Yards parking lot was from fair entrance: 600
Admission for one adult and three five-year-olds: $23
Extra change incorrectly returned: $1
Seats available inside circus tent: 0
Feet we sat from the Globe of Death: 2
Number of hoops The Amazing Pamela hula'd at once: 10
Number of minutes between The Amazing Pamela's hula hoop act and The Amazing Pamela's trapeze act: 1.5
Total number of performers involved in The Vazquez Circus, counting the emcee: 4
Percentage of animals in the Petting Zoo that were not goats: 7
Cost of three small cups of wheat chaff to feed Petting Zoo animals: $3
Seconds it took for C to be robbed of his entire cup of wheat chaff by an especially aggressive goat: 12
Midway ride tickets purchased: 20 for $20
Average price per kiddie ride: 3 tickets
Tickets spared by carnies wrongly assuming we had wristbands: 12
Tickets wasted because Miss M would not ride anything without her mom: 2
Cost of first small Sno Cone: $2
Price paid for first small Sno Cone: $0
Minutes I contemplated going back to pay for Sno Cone after I realized I hadn't been charged for it: 0
Cost of two bottled waters: $6
Degree burn suffered by brushing against white-hot turkey leg booth while purchasing bottled waters: 2nd
Times the children lost the pieces of paper with my cell phone number that I stuck into their socks: 5
Cell phone pictures I took of each child in case we got separated and Missing Child posters were required: 1
Cash remaining in my pocket when I realized I hadn't fed anyone anything other than water and sugared food coloring: $4
Seconds I considered letting C get something out of the vending machine instead of eating fair food: 17
Times S asked to play a midway game: 17
Cost of letting three coordination-impaired children sit down at a midway game: $9
Seconds until all three children lost said midway game: 15
Surprisingly reasonable price for a large order of decent nachos: $3
Food and/or beverage items I bought for children but consumed the majority of: 4
Yards we walked out of our way so I could get a fried Snickers before leaving: 60

Friday, September 05, 2008

You Are My Sunshine

My Miss M.

Five. Five! A kindergartener. A little girl. Not, in any way, a baby.

But it’s still hard for me to think about your birthday without remembering your actual day of birth, and the exhaustion and exhilaration of that long night’s journey into day. I remember the fear and the thrill, the confusion and the triumph, the pain and the delicious end of it. I remember reaching out to you, taking you out of your bed and pulling you into my own, where you slept in a warm flanneled bundle like you were still part of my own body.

When I see pictures from later in your first months, my memory is fuzzier. It’s harder to recall each stage of your growing up because you are, at any given moment, completely yourself at that exact time. You are so you. I admire and cherish your presence, the openness of your heart and the certainty of your perspective. Even when that certainty openly conflicts with reality or my own preferences, I respect that you are strong-minded and confident. I couldn’t ask for better qualities in a daughter, especially when they are joined with your sense of fairness and empathy. Senses that sometimes manifest in unpredictable ways these days, but that I know will be refined and strengthened as you grow.

Our bond can tense and slack several times within a day, or even within an hour, but I want you to know, today and every day, that I am always holding on to my end. Usually breathlessly, either from trying to keep up with you or just because I’m agog at your beauty and brains, but always tightly.

Happy birthday, my peanut, my dear heart, my best girl. I love you so much.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Welcome To A Special Place

Well, we made it. Week One of Mr. Baby's official first daycare experience is over, and we all survived intact. And in deep gratitude that we didn't get kicked out after I was 45 minutes late picking him up on his very first day. Of course that would be when the cataclysmic hurricane-leftover rains would flood the entire route between my office and midtown. Not "hm, maybe I should move into the higher lane" flooding, but "holy crap, another police cruiser blocking the road!" flooding. We were so very lucky that Mama KT - the trusted provider for many friends and neighbors - was able to take Mr. Baby in at the very last minute and already I felt like I'd blown her confidence. I know she wouldn't have held me to it, but I sent along a check for the center's dollar-a-minute late fee along with Mr. Baby's application, just because I needed to save some face and try to demonstrate that I wasn't That Mom.

Anyway, back to the baby. He had a great week, really. He only napped about half an hour the first day, but was taking 2+ hour naps by Day 2. (I've thus far resisted the urge to ask how in the heck she made that happen, since he tends to be on a 90-minute timer at home.) Every morning was a heart-breaking, ripped-from-my-arms nightmare scenario, but what with him being my second child (and fundamentally more adaptable than my first), I knew he'd be fine once the door was closed. Mama KT even said I was welcome to circle the block and come peek in the windows to be sure. I like a childcare provider who understands a mother's neuroses needs.

He starts back up again on Tuesday after a long weekend of feverish (in all senses) around-the-clock nursing, with four - count 'em, four - teeth cutting through his gums and two more puffily on the brink. I believe Mama KT's reports that he has a good time during the day, but it's hard when he saves up all his pain and frustration for me. I'm very glad he's happy there, because it makes me feel a little bit better about being so relieved to have a break from the eight different kinds of angry coming out of him lately. I miss my happy baby, but it's nice to know someone else is getting to hang out with him.