Friday, July 24, 2009

Dear Gwen: Month Fifteen

Dear Gwen,

Today, you are fifteen months old. A year and a quarter. You are mostly wearing eighteen-month clothing now, and some of it, I’m sad to say, is too small. At this stage, clothing serves as an apt metaphor for the parenting experience. We’re given an item for a two-year-old while we snuggle a tiny newborn, and ogle the garment with disbelief, not entirely sure that the babe in our arms will ever be as gigantic as THAT. We blink our eyes once or twice and then find ourselves struggling to fit a writhing toddler into this same garment, which now only fits if the child has no need to straighten his or her legs. Or, you know, breathe. I think I now understand why every parent I’ve ever met whose child is at all older than mine urges me to “enjoy it, because it goes so fast”. It’s not because they think this sentiment unique – it’s because they’re still reeling from the shock.
It goes even faster now that I’m working, and there are entire weeks that go by without me taking a single picture of you. This is UNBELIEVABLE. Back when you were three-ish months old, I spent hours poring (yes, poring, not pouring; illiterates, take note) over the hundreds of pictures we’d taken so far, and choosing only the best to print and place into a photo album. I even went so far as to imagine that I’d fill similarly-sized albums with the 3-6 month pictures, the 6-9 month pictures, and so on. (HA! Oh, my sides.) The album that captures the first three months of your life also captures my fascination with you, as five or six pictures will show basically the same pose and circumstance. Those were the days, my child. In contrast, I think I have about 40 pictures to show for this entire last month – and most of them were taken on the same day.

This month, you have started to become interested in your body. This sounds vaguely dirty, but in fact it’s entirely innocent and largely motivated by the song “Head and Shoulders,” which is one of your big favourites. If we sing this song and do the actions, you watch our hand movements with utter fascination. Even better, if we skip the actions, providing you with no distraction, you will do your own enthusiastic (and of course, wildly creative) version of them. When we finish the song, you usually declare “EYEZHHH!” and thrust a finger up your nose, at which point we congratulate ourselves on producing such an inarguably brilliant child.

Yes, you are starting to make the “s” sound (more like “shh” or “zh” the way you do it). It clearly takes great concentration. Most of your words are only, in fact, the beginnings of words: ball, bug, and book are really only a B followed by a slightly differing intonation of vowel sound, with no attempt whatsoever at the closing consonants. The fact that you are making the effort to add the “s” to both “eyes” and “nose” is a testimony to your enjoyment of the Head and Shoulders song, as well as your appreciation of being able to participate so meaningfully in the words and actions.
Another addition to your repertoire is the game of Patty-Cake. You are into this game in a BIG way, and it only took a couple of repetitions for me to be able to tempt you, from across the room, with “do you want to play Patty Cake?” Yes you DO. Unfortunately, you’re not quite ready for the Patty Cake Little League or anything. Though you learned to give high fives back at eleven months or so, you are of late completely disinterested in them, preferring instead the Fist Bump. So the concept of you and I clapping our hands together is completely alien to you. You also don’t like to clap your own hands during the game, though you hold your hands with palms facing as if at any moment you ARE going to clap. This makes my job, that of clapping your hands with mine, a little tricky. Still, despite the unorthodox methodology of our Patty Cake game, the delight you take in it is unmarred.

Speaking of tempting you from across the room, I have recently discovered your utter powerlessness in the face of music, and have used this shamelessly to my advantage. In our kitchen is a cupboard, highly difficult to child-proof, which is full of baking supplies including a few sets of measuring cups and spoons. You, of course, like nothing better than to open it up, throw all the measuring spoons on the floor, and then put them all in your mouth, so I have to wash the whole collection. The other day I saw you beelining for that cupboard, and naturally my calls of “Gwen. Hey, Gwen. Gwen! Hey, stop. Come here! Look at this toy I have! Whee! I love this toy!” were completely ineffectual, so I tried another tactic and began to sing “Skin-a-marinki-dinki-dink, skin-a-marinki-doo…” you stopped dead in your tracks. “I … love … you …” you turned to face me. “Skin-a-marinki-dinki-dink, skin-a-marinki-doo…” you started toddling towards me with due speed. “I … love … you.” Now you’re a few inches away, staring intently at my face as you try to figure out how I’m producing these fascinating noises. I finished the song and then offered you a game of Patty Cake. Crisis averted! Mom for the WIN.

Your love of music even allows us to take care of the tasks you usually hate with a passion, such as tooth-brushing, face-washing, sunscreen-applying, and so on. All we have to do is sing a ridiculous and insipid song (“This is the way we wash our face, wash our face, wash our face…”) and you will sit still and even quietly while we groom you. I don’t know how I can possibly explain to you what a huge development this is: it might even be on par with that time we took you to the chiropractor and resolved that whole chronic pain issue, transforming you from this perpetually miserable ball of tears into a smiling, engaged, active little charmer.
(Someday - I don’t know when, but someday - I hope to stop feeling guilty over the four months you spent in constant pain. My only comfort is in knowing that even though everyone else thought I was nuts for hiring a professional lactation consultant – and even though that did nothing whatsoever to solve our breastfeeding problems – that very clever woman did suggest a visit to the chiropractor, which turns out to have solved a parallel and drastically important problem. So, I did the right thing, even if it was for misguided reasons.)

It’s been a great month, Gwen. You are becoming even more awesome and amusing, which we didn’t really think was possible. You are able to play on your own for quite a while now, but also able to interact with us in new and interesting ways, such as Patty Cake, playing ball, and even – occasionally – participating in the game of “what’s this?” when we point to an object or picture whose name you know. Life with you is highly entertaining and we can’t wait to see what’s next.


1 comment:

Amberism said...

We have to get together soon so the girls can sing and dance together!

I adore the baby shark romper - hee! So fitting! ;)


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