Wednesday, October 28, 2009

From a month ago

Yesterday evening I was trying to unload the dishwasher in a hurry before I put the dink to bed, since the clanging of the dishes makes so much noise. He was fed, bathed, and smiling, playing with the fridge toys Aunt M gave him. I was on a roll, grabbing dishes in both hands and throwing them into the appropriate drawers and cabinets. And I guess the dink wanted to help, because he crawled over to me and perched on the outside of my left leg. The dishwasher was on my right. I grabbed a 2-cup Pyrex measuring glass in my left hand and a small glass bowl in my right. I turned to the left, about to reach over to a cabinet, when I realized he was beneath me. And then I lost it. I wish I had a video of what happened next because I’ve lost all sense of memory since.

Somehow the Pyrex crashed into the bowl, glass on glass. Then they became airborne for a split second and finally crashed a millimeter away from that little dink, shattering into about a million pieces. I looked down in shock and saw the dink literally sitting in a sea of glass—countless slivers and mean-looking shards, enclosing him in a menacing circle. He was stunned, not even crying, and I snatched him up, ran out of the kitchen and held him under the dining room light, looking for injuries. But he was fine. I couldn’t find anything but a tiny glass sliver sitting on the puff of blond hair on top of his head. He was 100% unscathed and eager to get back in the kitchen and play in the mess.

I still don’t understand how it happened—how I didn’t step on him, how the glasses crashed together, and how pieces of glass landed on every surface of the kitchen floor, even on the counters and in the sink and dishwasher, but yet my precious baby managed to sit in the middle of it all, unharmed. I suppose these are the near-misses that you hear about, that will keep happening every year of the dink’s life—some I’ll see, some I’ll be better off for not knowing about—just one more reminder of how precious his life, my life, this life, is.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


When you're pregnant, you learn that there are certain questions that people will ask you, and no matter what your response is, the reaction will be the same. How far along are you? What are you having? What will the name be?

In the past eleven plus months of having the dink, I've noticed that people continue to make the same comments to me. The dink has been called "beautiful" by more strangers than I can count. At first it made sense, a precious four-week old teeny weeny with angelic features. But later, I started expecting cute or handsome, or something to indicate that he was growing up into a little boy...but no, "beautiful" is still what every single person says about him. Must be the blue eyes and blond hair. Whatever it is, I've decided that it doesn't mean anything, just like all of those other standard questions. It's a standard comment for people who don't know you or your baby but just want to make a brief connection when he waves or smiles in the grocery store or at church.

For a few months, though, people have actually been saying something that matters to me. The beautiful comments are reserved for brief encounters and passers-by. But the next comment comes from those who stop for a minute or two, or watch him in mass week after week, or study him as we wait in the checkout line. "What a happy baby." It makes me smile just to think about it. At first, I thought, aren't all babies happy? I still don't know the answer to that, but just the fact that so many people comment on my baby's happiness makes me think that they must not be. It's probably that so many babies are over tired and the dink's happiness is just a sign of his well-restedness. But I'd rather think it's because we're doing something right. Because we smile incessantly at him just to see his toothless grin. And because we make up silly songs and do goofy dances for him, and especially let out fun noises just to get him to laugh. Because we're happy, or at least we put on a good show when we're not. I just pray that it lasts. That when he's fives years old, at the pediatrician, Dr. W makes the same comments that he has at almost every appointment since the dink was three months old. He's impossibly cute. He's got personality. He's a wild man. I think what Dr. W is trying to say is just a more insightful version of all those strangers repetitive comments. What a happy baby. And what a happy mommy to have him.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Wheels on the Bus

Not long ago, I decided to add to the dink's sad collection of Baby Einstein DVDs, and I bought him his second one: One the Go. I thought it would be perfect for that little doo's love already of things with wheels. His current favorite: 2-inch inflated plastic/rubbery cars with wheels that really move. He's perfected the skill of sticking out his tied tongue as far as it will go between his lips and blowing "bbbrrrrrr" in that car noise that apparently boys are born with the ability to mimic. I suppose J taught him this at some point. But from my vantage, he picked up the car one day, rolled it back and forth on the floor, bbbrrr-ing along with its movement. Genius, surely.

So I played On the Go for the first time 3-4 weeks ago. The dink was only mildly interested, I think, wondering why the familiar Disney intro music of the DVD had let to different sounds and characters. Until the Wheels on the Bus song came on. The tv screen shower a cartoon-esque school bus with those ubiquitous Baby Einstein puppets climbing aboard, looking out the window, etc. And the dink went nuts. He charged the tv screen, pulled up on the tv stand, and reached his hand out to puppet, all the while panting and emitting high-pitched squeals. It was as if he recognized this song, which I hadn't even thought since his birth.

Then a few days later, he did it again. After some over-contemplation about what in the song or its visuals the dink found so exciting, I thought to ask Ms. S. at the daycare. Do you ever sing Wheels on the Bus to the dink? Oh yeah, she chuckled, he loves that song. And If You're Happy and You Know It, she said...He loves to clap his hands. Well, at least that was something I knew about my own child--his fondness for clapping his hands at the slightest encouragement. So it all made sense. A few days later, I tested the dink and started singing the other song. "If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands," I paused. Then: clap, clap. Unbelievable.

Of course we all want to think our child is genius. But the truth is that it's all about the time you put in. I tell J all the time that stay-at-home-mom babies appear to be smarter than others at an early age because their moms have time to do the repetition, the same sayings, songs, events, every day, and for so many hours of the day. Kids like the dink just have to latch on to their few tricks and make the most of them.

A couple days ago, my neighbor stopped by with her grandson, who is ten days younger than the dink. When they were leaving, the dink waved bye-bye to him. My neighbor seemed upset that her grandson still didn't know bye-bye when the dink has been doing it for at least a month. She said she keeps telling her daughter to teach it to him! I told her not to feel bad that he hasn't learned yet--it just means that her daughter doesn't leave him every morning.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Turns out the dink can put down some toast like a wolverine. After he woke up about four times from 3 a.m. on this morning, I called it quits and started the day a little earlier than usual, not long after 5. Instead of his normal oatmeal and fruit, I offered him a lightly toasted piece of wheat bread. No butter, no crust--just the scratchy and soft plain stuff that I pulled apart in bite-size pieces, hardly able to keep up with the rate he was shoveling them into his mouth. Just another sign that he's outpacing my slow, deliberate attempts to make him grow up slowly, and not rush too fast into all of this big boy stuff.

A few days ago, I got a notice at the daycare that the dink would be moving to the walker room in two short weeks. Two weeks! He won't even be one years old by then. And the list of dos and don'ts was startling--no pacis, no bottles, must wear shoes, must sleep on a mat, only one nap a day, needs finger food... I actually sobbed in the car on the way home that day, reading the walker room schedule at red lights: eat, play, music, outside, eat, play, sleep, play, eat... At least I won't feel bad now when I pick him up (finally, gloriously, RESTED), and drag him on errands and walks and expect him to bang on the same pots and spatulas in the kitchen, because at least I'll know that he's had sufficient time to play. But still, it's bittersweet, and for now mostly bitter. To expect all of these adult things from my precious, innocent, little baby. From that little tiny thing with the amazingly sweet breath that used to sleep with his eyes open and get swaddled so tight to sleep in his crib that he looked like a mummy. Or an Indian. My sweet, sweet boy growing up too fast. These are the pangs I've heard about, this is what they mean when ladies I don't even know catch me in the kitchen at the office and sigh, "they grow up so fast." There's no unique way to say it. You can't cradle and rock and caress your baby forever. But you certainly don't start loving him any less.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Two months later

The dink has been busy. His favorite move, the two-finger point. Or the one-finger point. Or his whole hand splayed open at the end of his extended arm. Does he get it from me, this need to identify each person or object that his eyes focus on? The cuteness is impossible, combined with the inexplicability of why he does such a thing. The other day at the daycare, when I arrived to pick him up, S was rocking him. He was almost asleep, but he heard my voice so she brought him to me. In my arms, he rested his head on my shoulder and looked sweetly at S, then slowly lifted his right arm to her, stretched it in her direction, and pointed with his second and third fingers. She laughed, and I kissed his sweet, fluffy blond head.

In the morning, the dink plays on the floor of our bedroom in his diaper. After his morning poop, he's sanitized with wipes, freshened with a damp cloth, and stripped of his nighttime snuggle suit for a brief 6:30 a.m. period before daddy puts on his "school" clothes. While J struggles to pull the comforting weight of pillows and covers off of his face in bed, and I struggle to zip up my pre-pregnancy pants a mere eleven months later...the dink sits in the doorway to our closet, exchanging between grinning at his reflection in the full-mirror and finding me in the quiet morning chaos, rising up to his red knees (from intense crawling), raising those arms and hands high above his head, and flapping his little hands loosely and excitedly at me. Like he's working out his wrist muscles, or tapping on some tinky piano up in the sky...but I stop what I'm doing, raise my own arms up high, indulge in a bit of panting to mimic him perfectly, and wave back at him. Eventually, the squeals and trills of excitement pull daddy out of the covers. And the dink grins at him from my arms, laughs at daddy's peek-a-boo efforts in the bed, and gives daddy the one-finger salute.