Gwen is two weeks away from her first birthday. One year ago today, my blood pressure rose to 140/100 and I instantly went from "lalala I'm 36 weeks pregnant and everything is going fine!" to "hello, you are on bedrest now, and by the way that means you're off work." The next two weeks were spent - hilariously - only getting off the couch to haul my giant pregnant self to non-stress tests at the hospital.
Anyway, like I said, Gwen is nearly one year old, and I am facing the uncomfortable truth that my image of a one-year-old child is dismally inaccurate.
I guess all of these preconceived notions come about from the fact that at one year old, parents go back to work, and kids head to daycare (or Gramma's, or nanny's, or whatever other child care situation is going on). So I guess I thought that 12 months was an age where kids got a bit more independent, and didn't necessarily need Mom and Dad so much. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Fantastic wishful thinking, and fantastically wrong.
I thought 1-year-olds could walk, for one thing. I figured they'd be all over getting themselves from one place to another, and that they could both follow a beloved caregiver and escape an unfriendly playmate. I thought 1-year-olds would be a little more able to defend themselves; that they wouldn't just sit passively while an older kid stole a toy from them. I thought they'd be able to feed themselves, so that a daycare worker who is in charge of six other kids didn't have to sit and spoonfeed an entire meal. I thought 1-year-olds might be a little better at communicating their needs, allowing *anyone* to understand that s/he wants a toy/cookie/new diaper/nap, not just Mom: The Ultimate Authority and Toddler Reference Manual. For sure, I thought 1-year-olds could amuse themselves for more than 15 seconds at a time.
Some of these things, some of the time, in some circumstances, are true for Gwen. But not all of them. Not even most of them. I still feel like I'm the Gwen Decoder most of the time, and that she'll be helpless, unhappy, and misunderstood if I'm not there. Ridiculous, I know, and it's even more ridiculous that at a time when I should be bemoaning how fast she's growing, instead I'm pointing out all the things she still can't do. So instead, let me share with you some of the things I've noticed lately.
Gwen can now stand up without pulling up on anything, and she has even taken a few steps without being coaxed or tricked into it. She signs "more" quite reliably and has started signing "please" (though the sign she uses for the latter is one she made up and has no relation to the sign we tried to teach her). She sometimes signs "milk", and, rarely, "all done". She can say and wave "buh-buh", she demonstrates that cows say "moo" and sheep say "baa", she likes to dance (on her knees) to music, and she is starting to show a lot of interest in books.
Last week, she picked up a toy that rattled. She spent the next ten minutes picking up all her toys and shaking them, to see which ones rattled and which ones didn't.
Earlier this week, she discovered "open" and "close". She opened the door of her Noah's Ark, took out one animal, closed the door, started over. Open, remove, close. Open, remove, close. Repeat until Ark is empty.
She has learned that when she's wearing a dress, it's easier to walk on hands and feet than to crawl.
Who will notice all these little changes when she's in daycare?