FaceTime

Every night around 6, Edith and I FaceTime with my parents. My parents are preparing to move in with us, and are currently in Tennessee packing up their old house; my mom already lived with us for most of the last year and doesn’t want Edith to forget her.

At first, Edith really enjoyed FaceTiming with her grandparents — at the end of the day, when I was too tired to engage with her anymore, she had a freshly invested audience to perform for, and really their interest in her goings-ons (unlike mine) is inexhaustible. They will act convincingly astonished to see her appear from behind a chair even if she does it a hundred times in a row.

I also enjoyed this, because it enabled me to lie on my back on the floor and tune out for awhile before the bedtime wars began.

But for the past couple of nights, after Edith has clapped her hands and pranced around a bit and received some initial praise, she’s been over it. She pretty quickly escalates from disinterested to furious at me for continuing to split my attention — after awhile, she starts marching over and taking my hand and pushing it onto the keyboard, trying to make me hang up. And when that doesn’t work, she has a meltdown.

Immediately after I hang up, she cheers right up and falls backwards into my lap with a satisfied grin, as if some overstaying party guests have finally beat it.

And this is all fine, as it goes, but this is also the pattern of how she behaves when I pay attention to anything at all other than her, and I have a vague sense that she is now at the age where I need to start setting limits on this behavior. In fact, my paperwork of “tips” from her 15 month check-up earlier this week includes this disturbing bullet point: “Use brief time-outs to enforce discipline.”

What the fuck? Are people really doing this with 15-month-olds? How would one even begin to give them a time out — tie them to the wall? I know at some point, I have to stop letting Edith do whatever she wants and/or doing whatever Edith wants, but I just feel like my life is far more pleasant when Edith is charge of it.

A Year of Posts

Throughout my 40th year of life, I posted on this blog every single day. This wasn’t initially a goal — during my parental leave, I enjoyed writing a little something here just to get a marker of my baby’s life down and to do something a tiny bit creative while braindead and sleep-deprived. Then, at some point, it became a point of curiosity as to whether I could make it a year, and finally I got so close, it seemed somehow mandatory to reach the benchmark.

There have been good and bad things about publishing here every day:

The good:

  • I have a lovely little treasure box of a year of my baby’s life. I keep a diary but my diary is mostly just a boring emptying of my brain’s current stressors. Because I was publishing here for an external audience, these posts include detail and narrative that I can imagine reading when I am much older and have forgotten all of this.
  • Forcing myself to find something worth writing about every day caused me to be more observant and to think more creatively. I wrote when I thought I couldn’t possibly write, and those were some of my better posts. There’s a lot of stuff here that I’m proud and happy to have written that I absolutely would not have written if I didn’t have this arbitrary self-imposed requirement.
  • I’ve gotten a lot of really nice compliments from people on my writing, including sometimes from people who I had no idea were reading this blog. That’s felt great! Also, my family has really enjoyed reading these posts.
  • It’s taught me that conditions do not have to be perfect for me to write. I can get really avoidant about writing and think my house has to be spotless and I need five hours of uninterrupted time, etc., and this has really broken me out of that way of thinking. This is also helpful for my job, which requires a lot of writing — previously I felt if I were exhausted and not able to think clearly, I simply could not string two words together. But now I know I always can if I make myself; it might not be solid gold, but I can at least get a draft down and refine it the next day.
  • I think I have gotten better at writing.

The bad:

  • There’ve been a lot of good posts that I wouldn’t otherwise have written, but there’ve also been a lot of pointless things that I posted just because I had to post something. I don’t really agree with adding to the noise that’s out there — if you publicly share something even just on social media, I feel it should be of at least some use to somebody.
  • Blogs are dead and writing here has basically been like throwing a party in an empty parking lot. It’s really depressing and lonely to write something you think is good and get no response to it whatsoever; most days here I just get a like or two. Not to mention all the bots that interact with my posts. By comparison, it’s so easy to get real engagement on Twitter. I’ve been doing this for myself when I’m older, but even still, it feels silly some days and vain, like performing for a mirror.
  • I have Opinions about talking about Edith on the internet. I know this is a minority opinion and I won’t go too into it, because most people feel differently, but I think it’s important to be a good steward of her privacy until she’s old enough to take control of how she wants to represent herself. It’s a tricky balance because my experience of motherhood is my own story, not Edith’s, and talking about my life on the internet is one way I communicate and express myself, and I’m allowed to share the most profound thing that’s ever happened to me. But it’s also Edith’s story, and I don’t have the right to tell hers. I’ve tried to walk a line that feels comfortable to me, but sometimes I really feel like I shouldn’t be talking about her at all.
  • It’s a real pain in the ass to have to post something here every day, especially on the weekends.

Going forward, I think I’m going to aim to publish something twice a week, and also maybe put a little more effort into my diary. I’m hoping this balance will keep all the good stuff above, but cut out the bad stuff.

41

I am 41 today! I had a lovely day with Edith which then turned into a too-long day, which seems about par for the course with a toddler. She woke up at quarter to five which is her usual wakeup time these days, and I pulled her into bed with me, and then somehow, miraculously, she cuddled up with me and slept for another 90 minutes. It wasn’t like a solid sleep — she kicked and thrashed and rolled, and at one point fell off the bed and howled and had to be comforted — but she more or less agreed to lie there and I definitely caught a couple of cat naps in all that, so it really was a delightful birthday present.

Then, we went to the park downtown which has become a Sunday morning tradition and it was so blazing hot by 7:30 that I was pouring sweat just standing there in the shade. We didn’t last very long, but by the time we got home, it was nearly time for our nap, and when we got up, it was basically time for swimming.

Swimming was delightful as always, and Edith had a blast, laughing and pummeling me with her feet. I have recently realized that Edith can just walk her own ass places rather than me hauling her everywhere (I don’t know what took me so long to put that together) and she was very proud and pleased to strut down the hallway to the pool on her own steam. It all takes ten times as long because toddlers have to stop to admire and experience every bit of lint they notice, but it’s still easier than hauling her and all our gear everywhere. The water was refreshing, there were a ton of parents and babies, and everyone was in a great mood.

Usually after swimming, I change Edith as quickly as I can, throw my dress over my wet bathing suit, and then we go out to the car, and I give Edith some snacks and milk there before we drive home. Edith knows milk is coming, and she is very hungry and thirsty after working so hard, so she’s whiney and fighty through the changing process, and removing two wet swim diapers and a bathing suit wouldn’t be super easy even if she would cooperate, so it’s all a bit fraught. This time around, I moved us away from the baby changing pad we usually use before she was fully changed, because they only had one today and some other parents had an infant. So then, because Edith was vertical while I finished changing her, she was able to dig into our bag for her milk and then throw a fit when she got it in her hand, so I gave in, and let her have it sitting by the pool. That took awhile and when she was finished, I threw my dress on, put her sandals on, and we got in the car.

On the way home, Edith started howling, but that happens. She howled all the way home which isn’t necessarily unusual and I thought she probably needed a nap, but as we pulled into the driveway, I realized that I couldn’t remember putting her diaper on. Sure enough, she was commando under her unsnapped romper and had peed a lake into her car seat.

I hauled her into the house, ran her to the bedroom, stripped off all her peed on clothes, and put her in a fresh diaper, and peeled off my wet clothes and put a fresh dress on. Edith was still crying so I gave her a cup of milk. Then, we headed back out to fight with the car seat. Edith would lose her mind if I went outside without her so I left the front door open and let her wander out after me in her diaper and bare feet. But she came onto the driveway which is boiling, so I sort of perched her in the floorboard between my feet while I wrestled with the carseat which suddenly wouldn’t come out for some reason. I finally got it unstuck and I sort of lifted and angled it over Edith’s head and out the door without dribbling urine everywhere, and meanwhile Edith tumped the rest of her milk out over my knees and feet and the floor of the car. As I reacted to that, I noted that somehow the urine had pooled up in the base of the carseat, and would have to be cleaned up immediately rather than left to bake in the closed car in the hundred degree heat.

I hauled Edith back in under one arm, threw the baby bag and all the swimming stuff into the hall, got paper towels and Lysol, went back out, leaving the door open again, and went to work on the carseat base. Edith wandered out after me and stayed up on the porch where it was shady. I half noticed that at some point, she wandered out onto the sunny sidewalk carrying her little shoes in her hands, but in my distracted brain, I figured she’d just turn around if her feet got hot, because I’m a fucking moron who doesn’t remember to put a diaper on a toddler, and of course before very much longer, she began to scream in pain.

I grabbed her up, ran into the kitchen, and put her feet in the sink under the cold water.

She was fine, it was just a brief second, but I felt like the biggest asshole alive. Then I still had to Lysol out the car, and disassemble the car seat and put the cover in the wash, and I had really, really meant to finally roast those goddamned vegetables tonight, but we got takeout instead (which Edith didn’t eat).

Anyway, this also marks 365 consecutive days of writing on this blog, which was never a goal I set, but at some point became a marker it seemed sensible to go ahead and hit. I will write more about that later, but not tomorrow! I will not be writing anything here tomorrow.

Biscuit

This morning I made biscuits (from a can obviously) and gave one to Edith.

She squeezed and sniffed it and then placed it on one of her books and carefully and intentionally sat on it.

“Edith!” I said. “Don’t sit on your biscuit!”

I moved it a little distance and she looked at me dubiously and then shrugged and went and sat on it again.

We did this a few times. I wouldn’t have thought it, but I guess if you have an Edith-sized butt biscuits DO kind of look like things to sit on. So toddlers teach us to see everything in new ways.

Needs

Back when I used to write plays, we talked a lot about constructing scenes based on each character having a compelling, urgent need that then is frustrated in various ways, causing that character to have to pursue different tactics in an attempt to get it. If you boil it down, this is essentially what all storytelling is. For plays, because they mostly take place in the present moment and in a way that is easily stageable (that is, they’re mostly people standing around talking to each other) you really want someone’s need to be frustrated by the person they need it from pursuing their own need. If you have both of these elements blocking each other, you have a scene.

My toddler and I act out many of these sorts of scenes every day, in which I am pursuing a particular need that is being blocked by her pursuing a need of hers. Yesterday after work, for example, I had a pressing and high stakes need to retrieve and empty my menstrual cup at the precise time that Edith had a very urgent and deep need to climb into my lap.

What resulted was one of the more entertaining and ludicrous bits of physical comedy I’ve seen in some time, albeit not appropriate for a general audience and we’d likely have difficulty finding a venue willing to stage it.

Swimming Clock

Edith knows when swimming is, and she gets so excited that she starts to be a pain in the ass about an hour before it’s really time to leave. She doesn’t have a concept of “start time” yet; I suppose she thinks that swimming is whenever we go to swimming, so when I’m sitting around when it’s getting close to swimming time, I’m just being a perverse jerk who needs to be actively motivated.

Eventually, I just give in, and while I get dressed and get her dressed as slowly as possible and drive as slowly as possible, we still regularly get there thirty minutes early, and earlier every week. The teachers always look at us strangely when we come in so early, but I don’t know how to explain that once it gets Sunday afternoonish, Edith is handing me my swimming trunks and shoving and shouting me to the door.

Soon, we’ll start getting there the night before.

Couch

Today Edith was running couch laps while I read at one end (a few words in between her reaching me on each lap and throwing herself over the book dramatically) and I suddenly noticed things had been quiet for two seconds rather than one.

I glanced over at Edith and did an actual double-take. She’d finally gotten up the nerve to try to get to the window sill next to the other end of the couch (long an ambition) and now she was suspended above the floor, fingers clutching the sill, toes just retaining purchase on the sofa arm.

She hadn’t even hollered; she just had this face like “ok, this didn’t turn out the way I expected.”

Amoxicillin Update

Well, Edith decided that she wasn’t going to drink her milk anymore now that it had begun tasting gross, so we revisited the idea of me force-feeding her. After some trial-and-error, I hit upon the solution, which works well enough: wrap her in a towel, put her flat on her back and straddle her, with one hand hold her cheeks and push them so that she’s making a fish face with her lips, put the syringe in until it’s at the back of her throat and then slowly empty it while blowing steadily in her face.

With this method, I usually get a bit more than 3/4 of a dose down her, but we’ve lost about four full doses in the war, so I’ll have to get a refill from the pediatrician.

Amoxicillin

Edith had a cold that lasted longer than I thought it should so I took her to the pediatrician, and he said that while the cold just had to run its course, she coincidentally had the beginnings of ear infections in both ears that weren’t far enough along to be bothering her yet.

So I now have this bottle of amoxicillin and I’m supposed to give her 5 mL morning and night.

I have been provided no instruction on how on earth this is possible.

The liquid takes like super sweet bubble gum, so you’d think Edith would just suck it down, but she can tell I really want her to take it and she inherited my contrariness (a family trait) and so the second I approached her with it, she set her little jaw and glared at me. I gave her some and she decorated my dress with it.

I have sought advice from other parents and one thing that has come up is that if you put a baby on her back and put the syringe in past her tongue and then blow on her face as she takes it, it triggers a swallow reflex.

Well, either that’s nonsense or Edith is especially talented, because when I tried this she closed her throat up like a vice and then spewed the medicine right back into my actively blowing face, like a geyser in the wind.

So I’ve been putting it in her milk. This works, but I read online that they might not get the full dose if it’s in milk. I figured this is maybe because it gives it more of a surface to spread out and cling to, so more of it gets left behind, so I called the nurse to ask. And she said that they don’t really recommend that method because it isn’t that efficient and they instead recommend that you put it in food, like ice cream or sweet yogurt or coffee creamer.

The thing is, though, Edith DEFINITELY will not eat food that I especially want her to eat merely because she can tell I want her to eat it (see above re: contrary). I don’t see how coffee creamer differs from milk? So we’re just going on with the milk, since it seems to be the only way, and I hope she’s getting enough down her to keep the infection from setting in.

I thought force-feeding a biting rabbit her meds was the trickiest challenge along these lines that I would have to face, but this is harder.

Agatha

Edith has a little stuffed lamb named Agatha, probably her favorite stuffed toy or doll. They have a volatile relationship: sometimes Edith hugs Agatha to her cheek and rescues her from perilous situations; other times she dashes her head against the floor or screams in her face.

Lately, Edith has been flinging Agatha into her bed in the mornings. I thought maybe she’s gotten to the age where she wants to cuddle a stuffed toy at night, so last night, I put Agatha in with her.

She immediately flung Agatha at the wall with such disgust and rage! She had never been so angry at Agatha, who had clearly trespassed unforgivably.

To make sure, I tried slipping Agatha back in quietly at a couple of points throughout the night, only to get smacked in the face with her as she made a hasty exit. So ok, message taken. Agatha can sleep with me.