At current count, Edith has three toys that make noise (well, she has more, but these are the three big ones): her toy piano, about which I have written before, a wheeled camping cart that sings and giggles, and an impressively ugly singing rolling unicorn from Grammy which I have named Atrocity. Edith has finally figured out how to press the buttons on all of them, and now what she likes to do is get them all going at once. Whatever you’re imagining, it’s worse.
Category Archives: Parenting
One of my mother’s boundaries is that she does not change poop diapers. Her position is that offer extended to one generation and one generation only (not transferrable or extendable). Which is fair enough.
This means that if Mom is babysitting for a bit and I am hiding in my room, occasionally she will come in, holding a prancing, grinning Edith by the hand. “Moommmmy,” Mom will sing while Edith dances back and forth. “We’ve brought you a poooooop!”
And it’s another bit of proof that motherhood really does alter your brain and makes you a gross moron, because I genuinely find this adorable.
It’s becoming hard to take Edith seriously. She’s so funny all the time now that she’s a toddler — her little proportions are funny just to look at, and the way she reels around, either flinging her legs out before her in a silly walk or mincing about with her arms up by her face T-rex style, makes me giggle every time she goes by. Her tummy is usually sticking out under her T-shirt and she’s always surprising herself with her own clumsiness or by trying to use an object in a way that it isn’t made for, or misjudging a distance.
When Edith was an infant and she cried, it was as if someone had grabbed my heart and squeezed it, but now when she cries, it’s mostly just hilarious. She only ever cries when she’s been thwarted on something that she wants, and she’s able to go from 0 to 100 and back again on a dime. Like, I will close the pantry door right when Edith thought she was going to get to go in there and pull a seltzer can on her foot, and as if a button has been pressed, she is IMMEDIATELY weeping as if her dearest love had been killed at sea, her eyes and nose fully streaming. If I open the pantry door again, it all stops just as quick and she laughs merrily to herself as she pulls everything off the shelf.
Yesterday I moved my full coffee cup from one side of me to the other as she tried to get at it, which resulted in her running in fast, tight, furious loops all around me, howling in rage. It was the funniest fucking thing I’d ever seen.
I remember how horrible it felt to be a little kid and be genuinely upset about something and for all the surrounding adults to be openly amused at your anger (as an only child, this happened to me fairly frequently). I’m going to try not to do this to Edith, but it’s really hard to remember that she’s not mature enough to understand how ridiculous she’s being.
Today an incredible thing happened. Edith and I got up at 5 and she threw Cheerios around for ten minutes to indulge me, and then we went into the playroom. So far, like every morning. And then she immediately ran back out of the playroom and started throwing her toys up and down the hall, again like every morning. And then she went into the living room, and I prepared myself to be summoned shortly to attend to something or other. And then….
She didn’t summon me. All was quiet. I peeked around the corner and saw her in her playpen stacking plastic cups onto a box lid, pretty absorbed, so I tiptoed back again. And waited some more. And nothing happened, so I sat down in an actual chair with my coffee and my book and I read for probably 20 minutes while she played contentedly in the next room.
It was incredible! It felt so restorative, I felt like an ENTIRELY new person, like the way I felt the first time Edith slept through the night.
Later I took her to the playground and she ran all over the place, and only tried to put stuff in her mouth once or twice. I had to be pretty much right on top of her anyhow because she can and does crawl to the top of the play equipment, which has no sides, and even when she stays on the ground, she periodically falls flat out and smacks her face on a curb or something and needs to be comforted. But the fact that she’s independently mobile and not 100% focused on choking on a wood chip makes the entire thing so much more enjoyable and doable than it was three months ago.
It was a great day! And then my friend visited, who I haven’t seen since before the pandemic, so that was lovely too. A very nice Saturday overall!
Edith and I both went to the dentist this week (different dentists). At my appointment, I cooperated fully and the hygienist chipped one of my front teeth which I didn’t realize until I got home, and it’s been irritating me ever since. At Edith’s appointment, Edith slapped and shoved the dentist’s hands repeatedly and refused to open her mouth, and she got a little toy duck in a dentist’s outfit.
Everything about Edith’s life is more fun than mine.
Edith is more self-sufficient now that she can walk and run and reach many countertops, and she has a lot of independent business to attend to all throughout the house. She does not need help with any of it, and it’s all pressing and requires her focused attention. This has reduced me to stalking along after her like a hulking weirdo, pawing at her and trying to smell her hair or nuzzle her or sweep her into a hug. She mostly tolerates these caresses from me, she’ll sometimes pat me absently and fondly on the arm or head before gently disengaging herself and going back to what she was doing.
Just yesterday, I was begging her to let me put her down for five minutes. Next week, she’ll be getting her own apartment.
For a long time at swimming, it was only me and Edith there, but about a month ago, a few other families started bringing their babies. This was really nice — we reached a “see you next weekend” level of friendliness and one of the moms even brought a birthday present for Edith (which plunged me back into the “how do I say I would like to be friends” zone I thought I’d left behind with my youth).
Today when we arrived at swimming, I thought they were having some sort of tournament. Nope! It was all babies joining Edith’s class. Actually, since there were so many kids, they broke the babies into “tadpoles” and “swimboree” and as Edith is the only kid (except for one who wasn’t there that day) who has graduated to swimboree, we were actually on our own again, albeit next to a massive class full of children, which is really the story of my entire life.
Edith had a great time like she always does, was thoroughly relaxed, and enjoyed herself. Now that she’s in swimboree the coach takes her sometimes instead of me, and Edith could not be less concerned with who is holding her as long as she gets to swim. Last week, the coach was like, “most children really freak out the first time a stranger takes them in the pool!” and I was like, “well, she isn’t really all that into me.”
Although Edith enjoyed herself, the mellow Sunday vibe was obliterated. There was screaming and wailing and gnashing of teeth, there were consolations and cheering and encouragement, there were dads photographing from the sidelines, there was splashing, there was chit-chat. Edith kept cutting her eyes to the side at the wailing children and making this face like, “what is your deal, it’s water.” All the littlest babies were adorable — tiny little butterballs in whale prints and ruffles, staring around saucer-eyed and making fish faces.
I’m glad I got Edith into swimming early, that seems to be the trick. I think as long as we don’t take any long breaks, she won’t be afraid of the water. It seems like the kids who are afraid either didn’t start until they were older or took like a year break around Edith’s age and forgot about it. She loves it so much, she loves everything about it. She even loves being dunked under (she is the only one). I guess it’s possible that when she’s older and can register what’s going on more, she might develop an aversion to it, in which case, we’ll probably just find something else to do.
At baby gym today, they put all the babies in the middle of a parachute and then slid it around. It was interesting to see all their different little personalities and how they reacted — some screamed, some wailed and tried to crawl back to their parents, some laughed and had a great time, some looked confused. Edith sat in the midst of them all, stoic and stone-faced with her hands folded into her lap like a little Buddha. She’s not a super chill baby — I have seen some super chill babies, and she’s not one. But when faced with a new and peculiar situation, her natural response is just to compose herself and wait it out with dignity. I love her so much, she’s just the coolest little kid.
One of my fears in having children was that everything in my life would become sticky. I have tactile issues and I really cannot stand stickiness; it bothers me unduly.
One year into having a baby, my house is like a giant glue trap. This is partly because of all the fruit. When I feed Edith, I hover over her with a damp cloth, wiping up every crumblet and splash, and if she starts to crawl off, I take her food away until she comes back. Edith’s nanny, though, not being a neurotic Type A weirdo, regularly gives her apple slices or whatever and lets her enjoy them as she plays. After work each day, I get a damp cloth and go to work spot-cleaning the floors, but the baby herself is also perennially sticky, as are tables, chairs, books, toys, walls. I mean, it’s astonishing how fast this has escalated and become a completely futile battle. Yesterday I was dismayed to see a pineapple join us (arguably the juiciest of fruits).
So back when I lived with roommates, I was fine as long as I had a room to myself that I controlled. I was able to just pretend the rest of the apartment wasn’t my space. I am trying to do something similar now, but I don’t have any area I control. Even my own face has a small sticky hand slapping at it most of the time. Although I’ve washed my own hands several times this morning, my fingers are sticking to the keys as I type this (the keyboard is also covered in some sort of juice somehow).
Which means, I guess, that I have to learn to embrace stickiness or at least tolerate it. I’ll get to work on that.
I was thinking this morning, as I was being shouted out of bed at 6:00am as usual, that it has been over a year since I slapped snooze on my alarm clock and slept in. For years, it seemed absolutely impossible to get up right when the alarm went off, instead of an hour or so later. It was a constant battle I waged with myself throughout my adulthood; it seemed just a fact of my own personality and of life in general that getting up at the first alert was ever aspirational, but as out of reach in reality as being rich or genuinely enjoying exercise.
And now look at me! It is very hard, it still feels impossible, but all that is necessary to achieve such an ambition, it turns out, is for it to be mandatory. What else about myself could I change if Edith insisted on it? The mind boggles.