Wednesday, May 10, 2006
One half of a year has passed since Isla was born and it's difficult to really remember where it went. It is equally hard to accept that the 10 pounds of extra skin around my waist, the stuff that crinkles up like tin foil, hasn't disappeared with the same urgency.
I have brief flashbacks of spending hours on the couch with her at my breast. (You'd think I might be concave by now. ) I also remember arguing with Esther about why it's not a good idea to let the baby suck your lips, especially when you have a cold. There was also some arguing with Ian about why Isla was crying uncontrollably. Why is it by the way that the first thing a man thinks of when the baby is crying is to “fix it” by changing its diaper? It is something about man's need to believe that everything can be fixed. Meanwhile, mothers resign themselves more readily to the possibility that some things just can’t be fixed. Some things need to be cried out. Some things have no explanation at all.
She is not crying now. In fact she is smiling and babbling and doing that little Free Willy air blow out her nose accompanied by a grunt that is her laugh and basically enchanting us every day. Her developmental skills seem to be on fast forward like she is taking the fast track to adulthood. I’m not sure I like it. Just a few weeks back it was rolling over to her stomach, then it was “watch me eat almost a whole jar of sweet potatoes,” then last week it was “see me sit up unassisted for long periods of time before I bend over too far to check out that cool yellow dandelion and end up face down in the grass.” Being able to plop her down in the grass to watch the ants work their assembly line across the yard is soooo liberating. I can sit up in the patio chair and quietly observe for long stretches before she bothers to wonder where I have gone. Even then she will just look up at me, flash a little smile and maybe grunt out a little “oh there 's the lunch bar" then it is back to business counting blades of grass.
Esther enjoys this outdoor floor time too because it means she can flit by occasionally like a little lawn fairy to sprinkle crushed dandelion petals on Isla's head and “decorate her hair.”
The only consolation to all this rapid development is that she has left behind her most disturbing quirk: catnapping for only as long as it takes to boil some tea water or change into yoga clothes, and has retained her most endearing ones, my favorite being what I like to call the “Boho Dance” where she rocks and shimmies her bottom back and forth with her legs in a frog position. It looks like she is trying to wag her tail. I hope this one never goes, though it might not go over too well in high school.
It’s funny having a four-year-old and an infant in the house together. I sometimes forget who I am talking to and forget to adjust my speech patterns accordingly. With a baby, it's anything goes. The more exaggerated and repetitive the better. Isla just thrives on my happy face and high-pitched voice cheering on her every move. Esther, on the other hand, is understandably starting to find it obnoxious. Over the weekend we did a lot of bicycling and Esther rode her little purple Surfer Girl bike farther than she ever has. All the way up the long hill I egged her on and told her how strong she was and how proud I was of her while she just kept pumping away determinedly. Once she made it to the top, I reiterated, apparently one too many times, how amazed I was at her superior athleticism and cycling skills.
“Why don’t you just drop your happiness mom?” she said, eyes forward, still pedaling away. “What do you mean?” I asked, knowing full well what she meant but needing to hear it anyways. “Stop being so happy for me for going up the hill.” “You don’t like it when I am happy for you?” “It’s just too long.”
She was on to me. She has officially left behind that "first- talking, still trying to understand" stage and entered the “you already said that, or stop snowing I get your drift” stage. My excitement was not by any means unfounded or false. If you could have seen the hill. Yet, it was still too much, too long, too baby for her. Lesson learned. Let’s see, lesson number 6,892 or something like that?