Fears

On Saturday afternoon, my father took Edith down to the neighborhood pool for a swim. He came back haunted and traumatized. He told me in shocked tones how the afternoon had gone: Edith was very happy to go swimming; she enjoyed the water and the splash pad. But then, while she was happily playing in the splash pad, Dad turned around for half a second to grab his phone to take a photo, and suddenly, Edith leapt into the pool. I had warned him that this would happen and that it would feel very unexpected. She waits until your attention is diverted. He jumped in and fished her out where she’d sunk like a stone, and he worried that she would now be scared of swimming, having undergone something so horrific.

Hahahahahahahaha!

After this, Edith started to retrieve things from the stroller and throw them into the pool. “Everything that she could lift and wasn’t tied down went into the pool,” said my father, still clearly in shock. While he was retrieving those things, she jumped into the pool again and had to be fished out. I would not have fallen for this — it was an obvious attempt at a diversion.

Then, she began to run laps around the pool, faster and faster. “She must have run around the pool fifty times,” he said. “And she has to run right along the brink of the pool’s edge.” So, she went into the deep several more times. “It never seemed to phase her!” he said, aghast. “She choked on a lot of pool water, but as soon as she was done coughing, she was jumping in again.”

Also, the bees were an issue: the yellow-flowered bushes along the pool’s fence are teeming with big fat bumblebees and as previously mentioned, Edith loves bees, so this introduced another challenge for Dad. “She chased them everywhere, I don’t know how she didn’t get stung,” he said.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” he concluded and then he took a long nap.

Edith really has no fear. I would say this is typical of toddlers, but from observing toddlers at baby gym and Edith’s swimming class, I have realized that they come in one of two categories: either they have no fear (and seemingly an active death wish), or they are frightened of everything. I was more the latter, but my daughter has never been frightened of anything. She is an adrenaline junkie and she takes injuries and accidents in stride. When she hurts herself, she either has no reaction at all, or she runs to me screaming and crying, I hold her for exactly one second, and then she immediately flails and kicks out of my arms to get back to what she was doing, like cuddling was all my idea. And even at these times, she really seems more outraged than afraid.

For example, at baby gym on Saturday morning she fell off a stack of mats directly onto the top of her head and after a one-second Mom cry/flail, she climbed back up and repeated the exact same move two more times glaring at the offending floor with fury each time she fell. After that, I quietly moved a second mat next to the stack, because I was afraid she was going to give herself a concussion, and when she landed upright on that mat, she strutted off in apparent victory.

For her entire short life, only one thing has truly frightened her. This thing:

Pictured is a little plastic bath toy with a pull-string that winds up a propeller which, when released, propels it through the bath water.

Edith hates this thing. She can’t figure out what its deal is. I have tried to introduce it maybe every other month and she is always interested in it as a stationary toy, but as soon as I make it swim through the water, she exclaims in distress (I can’t translate Edith-speak yet, but from the tone, I imagine she is saying something along the lines of “wtf!”) and stands up in the bath and grabs at me to be lifted out.

I even show her how it moves and let it go against her leg so she knows it won’t hurt her, and she continues to request to get out of the tub. Her attitude is less open terror and more something like, “that isn’t right, I don’t mess around with stuff like that, I don’t even like that guy’s vibe.” She won’t relax until I put the toy back in the cabinet.

So even the most fearless among us have our kryptonite.

I know it isn’t the monkey, though, because one of Edith’s more recent obsessions is another monkey: a stuffed one on a long leash. It’s actually meant to be a baby leash where the baby wears the stuffed monkey as a little backpack and the caregiver holds on to the leash, and Edith wore it for maybe two days when she was littler, but she very rapidly reversed that power dynamic, and now she drags this freaking monkey behind her everywhere she goes.

On the one hand, it keeps her entertained. She probably dragged it around the kitchen island for half an hour last night while I read a book. But on the other hand, the thing is filthy. She drags it all over the neighborhood and all around the back yard, through the dirt and mud and puddles and shavings and everything else and whenever I take it from her to wash it, she throws an ear-shattering fit.

I really don’t understand the appeal. She does not interact with it in any other way, other than to drag it behind her on its face, but it seems to be answering some deep need in her for the moment, so far be it from me to interfere. It does seem rather hard on the monkey, though.

Watching Edith dragging the monkey around, I kept trying to think of what it reminded me of, and finally I realized:

Bees and Clocks

Edith has finally hit the age where she is having unique interests, and it’s very fun for me. Rather unexpectedly, the main things she is interested in are bees and clocks.

At some point in the recent past, she became obsessed with a bee-printed throw pillow that we have. She still isn’t really talking very much, but I think “bee” probably counts as her first word, because she definitely knows what it means and what it refers to, and she says it all day long with great enthusiasm.

“Bee!” she would shriek in delight, every time she saw the pillow, pressing on the various bees. “Bee, bee!”

She also began to happily identify bees in her picture books (children’s books, it turns out, are positively teeming with bees of all sorts). And shortly after this, she got a toy that had a little stick-on bee and some other insects, and she immediately seized on the bee, and began carrying it around the house crowing, “Bee!” and bestowing it lovingly on whichever adult she felt most affectionate toward that day.

We introduced other bee toys and books; they were all as big a hit. She also enjoys real-life bees, which is unfortunate, because she chases after them and wants to catch them, and this will eventually end in tears.

Also, she loves clocks. I have already mentioned her affinity for my father’s watch and the nursery room clock, but also whenever there is a wall clock, she posts up under it and points at it in wonder, asking questions about it. There are big wall clocks at most children’s locations, and she had a full-on meltdown at baby gym one time because she wanted me to give her the wall clock, which was impossible even if I were inclined to do it.

It’s really fun to see her developing specific interests and preferences. These are maybe not the first things I would probably have predicted a baby would get into, but they are solid choices! Clocks are pretty rad, and what could be better than a bee?

Music Class

One of the many things I don’t especially like about myself is my need to be the center of attention at all times. It very much depends on the situation, but in groups, I am typically one of the more dominant talkers. I have tried over the years to inhabit a lower profile social role, but it never really takes. I think at heart this is an only child thing — perhaps I feel most comfortable and accepted when everyone is looking at me and laughing at what I am saying because that sort of focused attention (me: performer; others: audience) is how I first encountered the world as a child.

Edith is an only child and she currently lives with four adults who are single-mindedly focused on her and enchanted by everything she does, and so at 17 months, she is already overly aware of her own powers. We’ve even fallen into a routine of literally applauding her for minor accomplishments or feats of athleticism — when we FaceTime at night with my parents, Edith will leap off a cube or buckle a strap and then turn expectantly to (Jenna Maroney voice) camera and pose while her grandparents and I obediently clap.

At Edith’s music class on Sunday, her expectation of centrality became extremely apparent to me. Usually Edith needs a nap by the time we get to music class, so she’s pretty subdued. She tends to stand next to the cubbies where we leave our things the whole time, and point insistently at our bag while glaring at me. But this past Sunday, she was awake and alert, and boy did she ever play to the cheap seats. She danced and she pranced and she gestured and she went all around the circle and stopped at each family to introduce herself and display her abilities.

When the teacher dumped all the musical instruments out in a pile in the middle of the floor, Edith horded up all the little bell wristlets and put them on one after the other, until she had a stack of five or so running up each forearm and then she stood there in the center of the circle, arms lifted, and rotated slowly around to display this cleverness to everyone, who all obediently laughed at her. She is clearly aiming for class clown.

“Edith is very cute,” said one of the other parents to me after class, and as I thanked them, I thought, with a sense of foreboding, “and she knows it. She already knows it.”

My concern about this is not that I want Edith to be more humble (she is right to feel herself, she’s objectively the coolest little kid who’s ever existed, and anyway humble people are snores) but more that I know the world is very hard on girls with high self-esteem who tend to seize focus. I know at some point in the near future, some other kids are going to take it upon themselves to knock Edith down a peg or two. And I guess that’s part of life, but I still don’t want it to ever happen. I wish I could somehow protect her so that she goes through her entire life this glorious and this confident and this universally loved.

Grandpa

My father has come for awhile, and Edith has a new best friend. After some initial hesitation, and in particular, pulling at the hair on his arms and legs and asking him about it in a semi-horrified tone of voice, he is now the favorite, and Edith follows him all over the house, chattering constantly and showing him her things. She’s obsessed with his watch and last night, she wore it for an hour, prancing around and pointing at it, and picking up the little clock from the playroom shelves and holding it up next to the watch.

I appreciate the break from her fully focused attention and attempted control, but after I had a minute to breathe, I felt a bit offended to have been so quickly and thoroughly discarded. Three days ago, my constant presence was essential to her equilibrium and if I stopped looking at her for two seconds, she acted as though her air supply had been cut off. Now, I can disappear for an hour and she won’t even notice.

Last night, she was so amped up that she spent a full 90 minutes in her crib after bedtime just monologuing to herself and running in place. I typically can’t get enough of her soft little chipmunk voice, but by 9:30, I was about ready to pitch her out the window.

Eating

When I thought about parenting and how I would parent, I was very clear on one point: I would not be the type of mother who is constantly hovering over her child trying to get her to eat things. If my kid didn’t want to eat, fine, they could go hungry. I wasn’t doing that.

So of course, I now spend all my time trying to trick or force Edith into swallowing some sort of nutrition. I’ve mentioned this before, but the piece I hadn’t put together as a non-parent was that if they don’t eat, they don’t stay asleep. And while I might be indifferent to Edith’s palette, I am not at all indifferent to getting a full night’s sleep.

Edith eats like an emperor, which is to say like an asshole. She will eat if the following two conditions are met: (1) she is ravenous, and (2) she is presented with something she especially likes. If only one or the other of those things is true, she will refuse food. I don’t know if it’s possible for a 16-month-old to feel contempt, but her refusal of food is, well, contemptuous. She refuses it in one of two ways: she will either gently raise one of her hands to airily and firmly push it away from her, or she will fling it impatiently onto the floor. Whenever I put a vegetable on her tray, she immediately picks it up and hands it back to me, without even making eye contact with me. Her dismissal of any food she does not want is so conclusive and condescending that it makes me feel like an underling. When there is something she will not be eating, she is insistent about handing it to me or flinging it, because she does not even want it on her tray. It’s like she’s offended by its mere presence adjacent to her more desirable food. If she’s especially done, she will use both hands to very rapidly toss everything on her tray behind her underhand, the way a dog digs in the dirt — this move is so rapid and unexpected, I’m rarely able to interrupt it.

“Just consider it for a moment,” I will tell her, handing back, say, a chunk of sweet potato she has immediately returned. “You don’t have to eat it, just sit with it there, and see how you feel. If you would only try it, I think you would actually— well, now it’s on the ceiling. That is my fault, you clearly said you didn’t want it, and I didn’t listen.”

This all feels like a real trial for me; it’s endless and boring, and I don’t even care what she eats, really — if she would only stick to what she likes, that’d be fine, but what she can’t get enough of one day, she acts affronted by a week later, so I have to prep like six mini-dinners every night to ensure that I have something that will catch her fancy. The only time I really get upset about it, though, is when I am on my hands and knees wiping up whatever dinner she has flung onto the floor, and she flings more food down on top of my head which has happened more than once. In those moments, I begin to feel like a real doormat.

Meanwhile, all of this only applies to meals with me — when Edith’s nanny is here, Edith’s appetite is voracious and her tastes adventurous; I hear a great deal about what a terrific eater she is for her age. It’s difficult not to take this personally.

Monkey, Pee

Edith has a little stuffed monkey backpack with a leash on it that her nanny used to use when she was first running around and wanted out of her stroller, but now that she listens better it’s mostly just a toy around the house. Last night, while FaceTiming with the grandparents she became newly interested in it. First, she wanted to model it for them and after that was done, she became fixated on learning how to clip together the clasps on its straps. She focused on this for 30 full minutes. I have never seen her so absorbed in something. She didn’t stop until she managed it, and then mastered it, and then she wanted to keep repeating it even still. She wasn’t even interested in her night milk. She tried to take the monkey with her to bed, and threw a short fit when I made her put it down. I don’t know what’s normal for a kid her age, but I’m pretty sure this means she is a genius.

Meanwhile, us three adults sat and watched a toddler try to buckle a clasp for 30 full minutes, as riveted as if it were the new Better Call Saul, so you know, that’s what we’ve become.

This morning, while I was doing my usual getting up avoidance, the genius peed the bed. I have already sized up on night diapers but there is only so much that can be expected of a bit of absorbent plastic. This happened once before, and I thought, eh, I don’t need to get a mattress cover, I’ll just pay more attention. Now I had to newly Google how to clean it up, and I saw that this would require white vinegar or hydrogen peroxide or a specialized cleaner, none of which we had. It would also require baking soda, which was did have. So I made due with the baking soda until our nanny arrived so I could run out to the store, and meanwhile I bought a $90 mattress protector. While I was going around searching cabinets about this, Edith was screaming her head off and weeping and clasping my knees together and throwing herself at me repeatedly as if we were a separating couple in a ’50s stage play, due to her breakfast being delayed. I never regret having a kid, but mornings like this make it necessary to revisit my reasoning.

Snoozing

Before I had a baby, I had an impossible time getting up in the morning. We talk a lot these days about the advantages of remote work, but frankly, I have a lot of thoughts about how remote work exacerbates many people’s unhealthy behaviors to a very destructive extent, but this is sacrilege to talk about in my line of work, so I try to keep that under my hat. Mostly, I find that many of the people I work with are lonely to an almost incapacitating extent, they do not have social support networks in their lives and look to get everything through The Company, although I think that is also true for many people these days regardless of their work. But remote work really enables self-isolating, and I think it’s actually pretty terrible for people who have depression (myself included). That said, I would still rather descend into utter madness than ever have a commute and have to wear business casual and sit in a cubicle again. I think the real issue here is that we all need to reinvest in intentionally building communities outside of our workplaces, non-faith-based communities that provide mutual aid and support the way that churches used to.

This wasn’t what I was going to write about at all, how did I get onto this? What was I talking about?

Oh, right, so anyway working from home meant that I could fully succumb to the snooze button and it really became an issue. I spent hours at it, and nothing I did could combat it. Not moving the alarm to another room. Not setting up multiple alarms in a sort of obstacle course. Nothing. There was nothing so complex and time-consuming that I would not do it, and then get back in bed “for just a sec.” I was able to go ahead and get up if I had an actual appointment, so it’s not as if I really couldn’t, but there was no way I could fake that constraint for myself if it didn’t actually exist.

I thought having a baby fixed this, because while you can actually snooze a baby to an extent, mostly, they roust you out of bed pretty definitively.

But over the past couple of months, I have not only gotten back on my bullshit, but I’ve taken Edith with me. It started when Edith decided (perversely, randomly) that her new wake-up time was 4:30 (after we had agreed on 5:15 and had stuck to it for months). I could not accommodate this, so when Edith woke up, I stumbled through the dark to her pack-and-play, fished around on the floor with my toes to find the pacifier she had pitched out in a rage, and then hauled her back into my bed.

Weirdly, she permits this and now we often spend over two hours “getting up.” It looks like this: when Edith first joins me in the bed, we cuddle for awhile. Then, she begins to kick and flail, and I sort of clutch her to me and jiggle her madly for a bit. Sometimes she goes to sleep! More often, she doesn’t, and then I spend a long time alternately cat-napping and warding off blows. This is not restful but it’s better than getting up. I will at times turn my back on her and she’ll occupy herself somehow. When she’s starting to hit her limit, I hand her my phone (I’m not proud of this) and she fills up the camera roll with photos and videos of the pitch black while I genuinely sleep. Usually she does go back to sleep at some point for anywhere from 10 minutes to 40; it’s hard to say. I definitely get back into dreaming sleep, but I don’t know how long that lasts.

If she starts yelling at me, I put her on the floor and turn on the light, and then she runs around in the bedroom pulling things off shelves and out of drawers while I doze with an arm over my eyes.

Eventually, I get up. It’s really surprising that she permits this at all, much less for so long, and every morning! I’m really thankful for it, but I also think that it’s a testament to what a hold this habit has on me that I have somehow managed to get Edith (Edith! Of all people!) to tolerate it.

Still, sleeping in for hours now means that I get up at 7:00 am, which previously was my goal wake-up time. So in that respect, this problem has been solved.

Baby Gym Mid-Week

On Wednesday, our nanny had the day off so I was off with Edith and in the afternoon, I took her to baby gym. It’s open weekdays for open play, but not on the weekends, and I’m always baffled by this with all things for babies and kids. Childcare at gyms is the same — it’s only offered nine to five during the weekday, and like, nobody needs childcare at the gym if their kid is already at daycare? Offer it nights and weekends when people are working out! And who brings their kids to classes and play places during the week? There aren’t very many families anymore with a SAH parent, so how do all these places make money?

Well, when Edith and I arrived at baby gym, I got my answer to who goes there during the work week: nannies go there. There were six nannies and an au pair there with their charges and they were having an excellent time together. They had ordered pizza for lunch and I listened to them as they all planned a lunch outing the next week for one nanny’s birthday, and then I eavesdropped on the au pair telling the youngest nanny about some guy she’s seeing who is being a fuccboi.

(Side note, and I know I am always on this beat but what the fuck is wrong with men? This girl was gorgeous [and French], and she’s talking about some scrub who keeps ghosting her for weeks on end and then calling her late on a Saturday to see if she wants to hang out that same night, and like, men, what are you even doing? Why are young women still bothering with this shit at all, the best advice I have for the younger generation is just focus on getting yourself into a good financial position to have kids on your own and hire your help. It’s the best choice I ever made.)

Later, another mom showed up with her baby and we got to talking and they were there because their nanny also had the day off. We both said, essentially in unison, “I wonder if my nanny should bring my baby, she’d probably love to, and then my baby could socialize with other kids more, which she is seeming to want to do, but I don’t know, I don’t know, I just worry so much about the driving, the traffic here, so dangerous!!!!” And then a bunch of other stuff like that, and when I have these conversations, I always have this unreal feeling of how we’re all just a bunch of animated bots in varying categories. I mean, this mom and I were identical in our concerns and opinions and our relationships to our (only, precious) daughters and I didn’t even ask her, but I know she works in tech from home, we might even work for the same company. We definitely vote the same and eat the same and shop at the same stores, and I guess if I were a less cynical person, running into someone who is almost the same as me would feel exciting, like I’d met someone I’m really in sync with, but it usually just makes me feel creepy like I’ve been manipulated into a very specific social class by market forces and any ideas I have about my own uniqueness or freedom of choice are illusory and naive.

Anyway, I would have liked to be friends with her, but once again, I failed to give her my phone number.

Flags and Shit

Edith and I had another delightful weekend. She’s becoming ever more fun to hang out with, and I love rolling around town with her.

We took another trip to Target Saturday afternoon to return some of the stuff I’d bought the previous weekend and I got to experience what it’s like to have a tantruming child in public. Not great! I had somehow failed to connect the more frequent tantrums of late with the fact that she would also at some point be doing this in front of other people. She threw her first tantrum as we approached the returns counter — Edith wanted to run off into the wilds of the store, and I wanted her to hold my hand and stand next to me until I could accompany her, and as she registered her disagreement with this plan, the young woman being helped next to us looked at us the way that I used to look at screaming toddlers.

I had one of those existential shocks that are becoming very frequent in parenting. Like, I know I’m a mom, I’m mom-ming 24/7, but I don’t always really get that my position in life has permanently and fundamentally changed and then I’ll have a stark reminder that I have fully moved into a different bracket of humanity. I was “sneering pretty girl” and now I’m “hassled and mildly apologetic mom.” This change wasn’t fast or anything — it was incremental and ultimately took several years. But at moments like this, I feel like I’m suddenly looking back at my old world over a chasm. Going from alive to dead is a major life transition, certainly, and I feel like going from “non-parent” to “parent” is as vast! There are probably other transitions that feel as transformative and irreversible, but this is the only one I’ve gone through.

Anyway, it was a brief tantrum and then I wanted to let Edith exhaust herself by running around the store as much as she wanted (again, it was too hot for her to do this outside). In some areas of the store, Edith trotted along adorably, dangling my car keys from her hand, and people cooed at her and grinned at me and we were bathed in approval. In other areas of the store, Edith would take an interest in a stranger (usually one with kids) and follow them up and down the aisles, and when I pulled her away, she would have a meltdown and everyone would glare at us, and we were scalded by disapproval. My child was the cutest kid ever born in automotive, and a horrifying brat in housewares. Two minutes and three aisles and it was the opposite. One young woman was so taken by Edith that I heard her say to the guy with her “ooooh maybe we should have kids.” (I realize this sounds made up, but I promise she really did say this.) This was in office supplies and I wanted to say, “if you’d just been over in the freezer section, your original decision would have been reinforced.”

Having a kid makes it much easier to talk to people, and I am getting to the point where I think I might have an opening to make friends in a couple of these classes we go to. There’s one couple at baby gym especially who have a little girl Edith’s age and have been making a point to talk to me every week and say hi and bye and stuff. I don’t know how to make friends and have never been good at it, but there’s a certain level of attention between parents that seems to be an opening for more than a nodding acquaintance. I don’t know how to move it to the next step, though. I know I’ve missed the window a few times — a woman with a baby in Edith’s swim class brought Edith a little present for her birthday, which definitely seemed like an opening but I didn’t do anything and then they switched class days. I met a mom my age at the park one weekend and our kids were the same age and I liked her so much that I had to collect Edith and leave abruptly (this is an old habit from my younger days of social anxiety — if I like somebody and want to be their friend, I get so anxious about messing it up that I have to leave immediately). It’s been well over a decade since I made a friend, so I’m really using some atrophied muscles here. But I have to figure it out, because I want Edith to have friends!

My neighborhood has a Facebook page and after procrastinating about it for weeks, I finally posted saying that I had a one-year-old and would love to do a playdate with anyone else in the neighborhood who had kids the same age. I got one reply…from a lady with a bunch of “vaccines cause autism” and “COVID was a government lie” stuff all over her profile (I did not respond). I’m not sure how well I’ll fit in with people in this neighborhood. For example, on Thursday night upon rolling the trash bins out to the curb, I discovered that a small American flag had been placed in my front yard. There was one in every yard and it turns out that the neighborhood social committee does this for the fourth of July.

I am not a flag person (I know, you’re shocked). I have always been deeply creeped out by mandatory loyalty displays, particularly pledges of allegiance and saluting the flag and all that. It’s just gross and weird to me, and it always has been. I felt like a robot in school whenever we did the pledge. I don’t think this happens in other countries; I know Europeans find it very strange. Also, not for nothing, but our flag is ugly. I might feel differently about it if it were rad, like Seychelles or Bhutan, or at least inoffensively neutral like Hong Kong or Finland.

Even still, in past years, it’s possible I would have let this slide just to keep the peace. But for fuck’s sake, this country just overruled my legal right to make decisions about my own goddamned body! I am now only a free person insofar as I am not pregnant; otherwise, I’m owned by the state of Texas! I can’t even look at a flag right now!! I put it in the garage, and whatever, I’m sure no one will hassle me about it, but I feel like I’m surely not the only person who feels this way? And yet, I have not spotted a single other yard without a flag. It’s possible I will have to drive into Austin for friends.

Edith and I gave the 4th of July pool party a pass — not because of the flags but because there’s no shade at the pool. Swimming was canceled, also, and so I set Edith’s paddling pool up in the backyard under the trees, and after we’d invested the 30 necessary minutes of prep time to coat ourselves in zinc oxide and struggle into all our Coolibar layers, we had a lovely afternoon splashing in it. Edith enjoyed herself immensely, and I almost did. Our next door neighbors have a pool and they love playing the radio very loud — the actual radio of top 40s hits, with ads and everything — which makes me feel like I’m attending a junior high dance or shopping at a Kohl’s in my own backyard. It sets my teeth on edge. (I realize this post is making me sound like I might be a little hard to get along with.) But other than that, it was very pleasant.

When we went in, I took Edith into my shower to hose us both off. One aspect of parenting small children that nobody talks about and so I was really unprepared for is that toddlers don’t really digest a lot of foods, and so their poop is often just that food again. Edith had had wild rice for dinner the night before, and when I removed her swim diaper, I was surprised by wild rice suddenly being all over my shower like someone had just popped a piƱata full of it. And if you think it would be difficult to clean up a bunch of wild rice poop from the floor of a large walk-in shower, imagine doing so with a 15-month-old who wants very much to involve herself in the proceedings. Cleaning all this up while also cleaning Edith up (repeatedly) took a sort of sequence of showers and baths, and in the end, involved multiple tubs and sinks and a succession of towels.

This was late Sunday afternoon and it thoroughly depleted my remaining patience and energy reserves for the weekend, so I am very happy to be at a global company with an open vacation policy where the place doesn’t shut down on stat holidays and so I was able to have a normal work day yesterday and hide from my child for eight hours.

Tantrums and Target

Edith has reached the tantrum stage. It took me awhile to realize that what she was doing was throwing a tantrum, because she goes to 11 immediately, as if she had been suddenly injured and for awhile I thought that was what it was, but I figured it out in short order. Whenever something doesn’t immediately suit her now, she shrieks at the top of her lungs and then continues until her face puckers into a moist purpled fruit. She will sometimes stamp her little legs or lie on the floor as if dead. She does this whenever I am doing anything slightly different to her plan for what I should be doing, which is about 100 times per day. (It has not escaped me that she does not throw tantrums with her nanny.)

I do not want to encourage this form of communication, so I spend much of my evenings lately studiously ignoring high pitched screaming, which isn’t my favorite way to spend time together of those we’ve tried. And if the fit is instigated by my doing something I don’t care that much about, like taking something she was interested in inspecting but which I have no objection to her playing with longer, it’s hard to remember not to just immediately give it back to her the way I’d drop something very hot I’d unknowingly picked up, which reinforces that screaming bloody murder is the way to request it back again. She also screams for inexplicable reasons — for example, every morning now when it’s time to leave the bedroom and come into the kitchen for breakfast, whereas she used to run happily over to her high chair and prepare for Cheerios, now she first spends a little time standing in the bedroom doorway screaming at the living room light.

No idea.

I think parents tend to overemphasize the aggravating parts of having children and fail to mention the good parts, so I will balance this by saying that, these spells aside, Edith is excellent company and a delight to be around. She is so much fun and makes everything more interesting. We had an excellent weekend — I have found the key to our enjoying our weekend is to over-schedule us out of the house. My goal is to have something planned for every quadrant of the weekend, and we’re 3/4 there. We have baby gym Saturday mornings, a new music class Sunday mornings, and swimming Sunday afternoons. I need something for Saturday afternoons, but there seems to be nothing. It’s the worst quadrant to have open, too, because it’s endless and it’s too hot and sunny to take her outside.

I have begun using it for errands, which I previously avoided, because I hate people and leaving the house, and so I did everything online. But it occurred to me recently that I was actively looking for something time-consuming and indoors to do with Edith, so this past Saturday we went to Target.

It was so much fun! Edith loved it. She was interested in everything, and while she was happy to ride in the cart and point at various things, making quietly fascinated remarks about them, I eventually let her down so she could run around a bit, and that really made her weekend. She trotted up and down the aisles, picking things up, pointing at things, and asking me questions about them. Then, she wanted to help push the cart, so we went up and down the aisles pushing it together and she worked very hard. I couldn’t ask for a better companion. Everyone should have a little kid! If I’d known they were this much fun to be around, I would have always had one.

I just wish she would talk! I’m not worried about it — well, at least, I don’t think I’m worried about it. I don’t know if I should be concerned or not. Moms are always saying things like, “this and that expert told me this or that, but I know my child and I know what he needs, and so I ignored them and I was right.” Moms are always describing their children as extensions of themselves and correctly predicting some condition or other based on very early indications.

Does this sort of certainty come later? I don’t know Edith at all, and I have no fucking clue what she needs. She is an utter mystery to me. To me, being her mom feels less like having replicated myself in some way, and more like I found a gorgeous, mystical, feral creature in the woods which has deigned to permit me to care for it until it learns to function in human society. When I watch her play, I feel like I am witnessing something elemental. My primary feelings toward her are akin to awe and gratitude, which is an odd way to feel about someone who shits themselves multiple times a day and expects you to clean it up. She has my eyes entirely and sometimes when I look at her, I experience the uncanny shock of looking into my own face, but even still, I don’t have any feeling of her being mine or an extension of me. She is absolutely her own person, and she hasn’t told me who she is yet. As my parents are always saying, she is completely different than I was even when I was her age (apparently I emerged from the birth canal reading a copy of the New Yorker and pleading for silence). But even if we were identical in temperament, how could I feel a sense of possession toward someone who is continuously separating herself from me by infinitesimal degrees, especially given that my entire job is to help her do it?

Anyway, I’m anxious for her to talk both because I’m so curious to hear what she’s thinking, but also because it might mean she screams at me less.