Friday, July 31, 2009


What slays me most now is when the baby wants something. By this I don't so much mean the times when he is begging to be given yet another popsicle or to be allowed to push the start/stop button on the record player for the fifth time in ten minutes, but rather the times when he manages to communicate a specific viewpoint about what is going on around him.

For example, the other day he took my hand and led me to the clean laundry pile in the living room (Where else would I keep my clean laundry? Drawers? Bosh!) and began to point at it and fuss. At first I ignored him, as I thought he wanted to climb onto the pile and push the start/stop button on the record player again. But then I realized that he was pointing at a small grey T-shirt at the top of the pile. I held the shirt up, and he stopped fussing and raised his arms. I popped the shirt over his head, and he went happily back to playing alone in the corner with his own record player (old and unplugged).

On another day, he pulled me by the hand to the door and began his "Let's go outside" fuss, which occurs about nineteen times daily. I had intended to take him to the park anyway, so was happy to comply, but I first wanted to address the fact that he wasn't wearing any pants. So I brought him a diaper, and he began to scream. "Look," I said, "you want to go out, right? So let's just put this on, and then we can go out." His screams intensified. "OK," I said, "what about training pants instead?" More screaming. I was mystified. Finally, in a moment of inspiration, I brought him a pair of pants. "Do you want to wear pants with nothing underneath?" There was an abrupt cessation of screaming, and he sat down calmly in my lap to get pantsed. We spent the rest of the day outside with no diaper, and he had not a single accident.

It is no surprise, of course, when a little baby communicates in a big way about the big things, like "HOLY SHIT I'M HUNGRY FEED ME NOOOOOOOWWWW" or "I'M AWAKE DAMMIT WHERE ARE YOOOOOOUUUUU" or "OOOOOOUUUUUUUUUUCH!" But the thought that my baby has somehow become capable of formulating his own opinion about the small, inconsequential details of life (T-shirt/no T-shirt, diaper/no diaper) is borderline incomprehensible to me and simultaneously darling beyond all reason. Of course, this newfound knack of discovering and expressing opinions is rather a mixed blessing: our previously easy-going baby has been replaced by a highly demanding kid. The last couple of nights witnessed his longest, most intense tantrums yet, the baby throwing himself to the floor to weep, kicking his feet and pounding his fists in agony and grief because we would not allow him to go outside at ten thirty at night. There is no doubt in my mind that in the coming weeks, such scenes will become more frequent rather than less, but I am trying not to worry about it. With a baby (and with adults too, if you really think about it), everything is a phase, and as soon as you have made a positive decision as to how to deal with it, the phase is over and you are facing something entirely new. My hope, then, is to make it through this phase without thinking too much about the exhausting hour-to-hour grind of coping with the baby's endless parade of illogical demands. Instead, I much prefer to think about the crazy sweetness of his own little self, and how his newly independent little mind makes its own decisions now, and how once he has decided, he still turns to me with the utter faith that I will make it so.

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