Carrots

Today, I gave Edith a little toy that’s a box with holes in the top where you can push five little carrots through. She played with it a couple of times, and then she turned to me (obviously having already thought this through) and pushed one of the carrots directly into my cleavage.

That worked so well that she pushed the other four in there, too, and then she plucked them out one at a time and pushed them into the box. When I emptied the box, she put them all back into my cleavage again, and got them out one at a time. And that’s how the game went from then on.

Not sure how I feel about this, but given that another similar stage in many of her games is to put the toys in my mouth and have me spit them at her, I guess this is preferable.

Book

Edith officially has her first favorite book. It is My Friends by Taro Gomi. We have read it about 50 times over the past two days, at a conservative estimate. I’m not sure why Edith is suddenly so into it, but every time I turn around, she is handing me this book. It’s a fine book! Brief, cute. There could (and I’m sure will be) much more annoying books to have to read over and over.

It’s very interesting to watch her sudden interest in this book — she has previously been pretty interested in books in that she’ll sit and page through one over and over, looking at the pictures. And she doesn’t mind me reading to her; she won’t often fully pay attention the whole way through a book but sometimes she will.

But this is the first book that she has initiated wanting me to read to her, front to back, over and over. We always have three bedtime books and I proceed through them each night, with varying levels of interest from Edith, but this week, we are only reading this one multiple times because she’s so into it that she can’t pay any attention to other books and if I try to read her another one, she just picks this one up and looks through it herself while patiently waiting for me to finish.

Edith is behind on talking, which doesn’t really concern me, but it does make me impatient. I want to be able to talk to her and ask her questions. I want to know why she loves this book so much and what she’s thinking about it when she studies it so intently.

Park

It’s immensely hot in Texas right now; possibly the hottest May on record. This poses problems with a highly active one-year-old because I can’t take her anywhere after about 10:00 a.m. Fortunately, swimming is indoors, but I was still symptomatic yesterday and there are infants at swimming; plus, I wasn’t really up for it yet. So I took Edith to the nearby playground at nine. Even that early, it was almost too hot to go. I had to walk really slowly until we got to the other, shadier neighborhood.

The park was uncharacteristically crowded. First, a man came by playing jazz on a small speaker and walking with an ancient obese golden lab (Maggie) who stopped every four steps to sit by the path and pant and smile pleasantly at everyone. We talked for a bit (the man and I, not the dog) and he asked about Edith and talked about his grown sons.

Meanwhile a gang of preteens arrived — four boys and a girl. They were all getting to the age where the boys were ganging up on the girl, and after they had isolated her by taking the only four swings and then telling her to move so she didn’t get kicked in the head, she captured the oldest boy’s cellphone and attempted to reestablish her position in the group by needling him in the following way:

“OMG what is this, you have a girlfriend?”

“No, that’s that girl from Vegas.”

“OMG then what is this, you reply here, and it says ‘love you, too’!?!?!?!”

“Sure,” he said easily. “Is it illegal to say you love someone.”

The girl spluttered, having been utterly check-mated, and I felt for her.

Meanwhile one of the smaller boys was trying to tell some sort of joke, but no one was listening. He was sure it was going to be a real winner, though, so he started it five different times that I heard. Every time he said,

“How do you get a girlfriend? Step one, go to your local convenience store. Step two, buy an AK-47.”

He never got further than that, and although I think I really didn’t want to hear what the rest of the joke was, I sort of did?

Meanwhile, Maggie (the golden lab) at some point refused to go any further, and rather than continuing on their walk, her owner conceded the point to her gentle yet insistent passive resistance, and turned around to go home.

At the same time, Edith and I were having a battle — Edith’s nanny keeps snacks in the stroller for her and Edith has gotten used to helping herself to them whenever she wants one. Last time I took her to the park, I did not bring enough, resulting in tears and an early end of plans, so this time I had stocked up. Unfortunately it now became clear that Edith’s interest in having a continual incoming stream of snacks was not to eat them, but rather to have one gripped in her fist as she ran around and climbed on things and dug in the dirt. So, her cracker or whatever would get rubbed all over the ground, the sidewalks, and the play equipment and she’d periodically nibble on it. I was opposed to this, so I kept following along after her and taking it from her whenever she ground it into the dirt, at which point, she would scream bloody murder. When she began to scream, if we were on the same half of the playground as the gang of preteens, they would all hurriedly move to the other half of the playground, and I would also usually give her snack back.

So, of all the various factions wrestling for social dominance at the playground yesterday, the clear winners were my daughter (14 mo.) and Maggie the fat lab. I think that’s as it should be.

Co-Sleeping

Because I was sick, Edith chose last night for one of her rare 4:00am awakenings. As usual, I checked her forehead and her diaper and once I’d established she was just ready to get up, I told her it wasn’t morning yet, and went back to bed. Eventually she went back to sleep, and then she woke up again howling 20 minutes later.

Since I was sick and didn’t have the endurance to outlast her, I lugged her into bed with me, where we spent the next 90 minutes. I don’t know what happened in that 90 minutes. I know she did a lot of kick-flips over me, and then she spent some time curled up against me with her fuzzy little head under my chin sleeping, and then she began to pummel me and I handed her my phone, and eventually it was 6:30. I know I slept at least a little bit in there.

I am not sure what is normal and healthy when it comes to co-sleeping. In my house it was an absolute no-go. From as early as I can remember, I knew I was not allowed in my parents’ bed unless they were awake for the day and had invited me. I didn’t even try it. If I woke up scared in the night, I dealt with it myself using various mental techniques I’d honed over the years. Hell, if someone had broken in, I probably would have told them to keep it down lest they bother the adults.

Nowadays, going by my friends, it seems that most parents let their actual bodies serve as their child’s mattress. The bed has a 24/7 open sign on it, and if your child wants to get in it at 2am and kick you in the face all night, well, that’s their god-given right as your progeny, and declining to allow this is callous and will result in them being insecure attachers who only date jazz musicians.

I feel like there must be a happy middle ground between these two extremes, but if I have to pick between the two, I’ve got to go with my parents’ version because I simply cannot function at all, let alone parent, without sleep (neither can they; it’s a family curse).

Which all is to say, I quite enjoy having Edith in the bed when she’s sleepy-cuddling (for the full five minutes that happens), and I wouldn’t mind permitting it for, say, a couple hours every other week. But I fear that allowing it at all is going to just open the door to Edith demanding it as a permanent arrangement, and that’s not doable for me.

Anyway, I’m dreading how tonight will go, now that she thinks she has the upper hand.

Pain

Edith is growing at a real clip, and as a result, I am in a lot of pain. My lower back is obliterated, my thigh muscles are constantly sore, my shoulders and upper arms feel like someone tugged them out of their sockets.

Nobody talks about this? Or maybe they do, but I wasn’t listening. I mean, I am admittedly in terrible shape, the worst shape of my entire life. But so many people who are in even worse shape than I am have kids. How do they do it? Come to that, how do disabled people have toddlers? Gestating, birthing, and raising this baby has been and continues to be one of the most purely physical challenges I’ve ever had; I often think that this is one reason our fertility craps out when it does. I’m very obviously too old for this shit.

Anyway, the more Edith weighs, the bigger of a fight she puts up. She now forces me to chase her down the street, tackle her, pick her up, and haul her kicking and screaming back to the house, so I don’t anticipate this getting easier any time soon. She eats more and more. I eye her as she bulks up and does her reps on the furniture; she’s clearly in training to eventually defeat me altogether.

Tantrums

Before I had a child, I had a lot of opinions about how parents could make things easier on themselves, which (surprise!) all turned out to be based on total ignorance and do not work in actual practice. For example, “just don’t make the kid eat if they aren’t hungry” lacks insight into how a moment in time fits into the rest of a 24-hour period: children who do not go to sleep with full tummies do not sleep well, which means you do not sleep well.

But there was one thing I thought that has largely turned out to be correct: if a child is throwing a temper tantrum, just leave the room.

This works! (I mean, it works for now, for my particular child; I am certain that there are any number of children who it absolutely would not work for.) It only works when nobody else is home, because if you have a house full of people and you simply leave the room when your toddler is having a meltdown you are leaving other people to deal with a toddler having a meltdown. But now that Edith and I are on our own, I deploy this tactic with success often.

For example, this morning Edith was lying on her stomach in the kitchen playing with some toys and I noticed an unfamiliar clicking sound, so I hurried right over to see what she had.

She had two big broken pieces of glass.

I knew where they had come from — my mom broke a jar weeks ago, and cleaned up after it scrupulously, but these pieces of glass were from that same jar. I can only assume Edith somehow retrieved them from underneath the refrigerator. I took them away from her gingerly but swiftly and inspected her hands, which had not been cut, and then I sat at a little distance freaking out.

When I had calmed down, I noticed that Edith was throwing a full screaming crying tantrum because I had taken her pieces of broken glass away.

So I went into my room. She immediately stopped crying and a second later, I heard her little feet padding across the floor as she came to see what I was up to.

See? It’s easy, this parenting thing.

Solo

My mother headed back to Tennessee last night, where she’ll stay for a couple of months, so Edith and I are on our own again. Usually my mother babysits for a few hours on Saturday afternoon, which I really rely on. Otherwise, the hours between 1pm and 5pm are somehow 15 years long; there’s a sort of time warp that happens specifically on Saturday afternoons and I never think I’m going to survive it. Today, Edith and I got up from her nap in a fine mood, and then I didn’t know what else to do.

I stared around the house at a loss. I’ve been meaning to try finger painting with Edith, but I couldn’t think of any way to manage it that would end with my trying to clean finger paint off the walls and wood floors all night and I wasn’t up for that. We couldn’t go to the park because it is now nearly 100 here in Texas (in early May; we’re all going to die) and the walk to the park isn’t shaded. The neighborhood pool was out for the same reason. Mom got Edith a little wading pool and I thought about setting that up with the splash pad in the back yard, but in the afternoon, the sun comes up to the back of the house, and I just paled at the thought of all the zinc oxide it would require and trying to get Edith to keep her sun hat on and etc.

Finally, I put the wading pool in the living room and put all of Edith’s toys in it, and she had a fun time throwing them all out of it and back in for awhile.

And then at some point, I opened the front door and she busted past me, shrieking in relief, and when I caught her and dragged her back inside, she wailed as if her heart were broken, so I put her shoes on and we went out there for just a minute. She took off at a flat run and I chased her down the street and around the neighbor’s yard and through the bushes, all the time feeling like we were frolicking on the actual surface of the sun. It was so hot that even Edith got tired after about 20 minutes, but by then it was only half an hour till dinner so we had made it through the hard stretch.

Tomorrow, I’m going to take her to the park first thing right at sunrise when we get up, and then the afternoon is swimming, so I should probably make it to Monday alive.

Shoe Update

We finally found the shoe in the recycling, in case anyone was wondering. I had given it up for lost.

Lost Items

I didn’t realize that one reason having children is so expensive is because you have to buy multiples of everything they need so that you can continually replace their lost items.

Edith loves to toss things out of her stroller when no one is looking, and inevitably on the rare occasions that I check our neighborhood Facebook page, I will find pictures of my daughter’s possessions. I’ve retrieved several in this way (including a very large doll which somehow escaped the stroller without notice and was spotted propped up against a road sign), and also her nanny says that the people who live along their usual beat are familiar enough with them that they will sometimes come out and return something they’d found from earlier. Also, I take a stupid little daily walk and I inevitably find something when I go: yesterday, for example, I retrieved Edith’s sun hat, which was down by the pond.

But now that Edith is taller, we are also losing things inside the house. She can’t reach the highest surfaces, but she can reach some medium-high benches and counters where things accumulate and she can also now open bins, cabinets, and drawers, and as a result, everything is missing all the time. We recently located a spare set of keys that went missing several weeks ago at the bottom of a hamper, so sometimes things turn up. But one of Edith’s shoes is currently in the wind. I know it’s in the house, because she came in with both of them yesterday — I took them off of her, and she immediately picked them up and started running around with them. Edith loves to run around with her shoes in her hands and hand them to me repeatedly in a bid to be taken outside, and I often have to hunt for one, but this time, it is truly not turning up anywhere.

My fear is that she tossed it in a trashcan that then was emptied without anyone seeing it there. I paid 45 fucking dollars for those shoes, and her feet will only be this size for another month. I do not want to replace them now.

Shan’t

It occurred to me today that at this age, the only things I’m asking of Edith is for her to give in to her own biological needs: eat when she’s hungry, drink when she’s thirsty, go to sleep when she is tired. That’s it. That’s what we spend all day wrestling over. It’s not like I’m asking her to learn math yet, or stay home on a school night. I’m just like, “Edith, you’re obviously starving to death, eat some food. Any food.” And she is like: