The way Sam growls at the cabinet lock because she thinks it looks like a monster.
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A couple of years ago I thought I was very astute when I observed that being pregnant was like being a kid on Christmas Eve for 9 months straight – I loved knowing that there was magic going on behind the scenes, and the anticipation of meeting my baby was thrilling.
What I never considered is that the magic and anticipation don’t end once your child is born. Sam is here now and I get to be with her every day. She is more wonderful than I could ever have imagined. And yet, I still get the thrill of anticipation because she is always changing. I get to watch this amazing person grow up, and I have no idea what is coming next. Being a parent is like Christmas morning forever.
“Jerk!” I said out loud in my car. It had been a tough day and I was in a bad mood. I was waiting to turn left out of my neighborhood on to a busy street with no signal at rush hour. It can be difficult to get out so you have to make your move when you get the opportunity. I had a clear shot except for a FedEx truck coming from my left, so I was going to have to wait more. At the last second, though, the FedEx truck turned right on to my street. If he had just used his stupid turn signal, I could have gotten out. People suck. Jerk!
Then as I continued to wait, I noticed that the truck had stopped right next to me and the driver had gotten out. I looked over, and he was fixing our street sign. A few days ago I noticed that the sign with the street names at this intersection had been rotated 90 degrees so that the two street names appeared to be reversed. The FedEx guy rotated the pole back to its correct position.
He sure made me feel like a jerk. He’s exactly the kind of person I want to be sharing this world with, but I was ready to write him off as just another idiot. There’s a lesson in there somewhere – maybe, is it possible that…people don’t suck? I’ll have to think about that some more.
Did you see Twitch and Kherington last night? That dance was so beautiful it brought me to tears. I’ve now watched it five times and I find it more amazing each time.
I don’t consider all dance to be art. Some dance is entertainment, which can be fun, interesting, powerful, shocking, even beautiful. Some dance is just movement to a rhythm, which can be pleasurable to the dancer, but is pretty boring to watch even if well done. But sometimes dance qualifies as art. If art is “a selective re-creation of reality according to an artist’s metaphysical value judgments,” then to be art, a dance must convey something, through movement, about man or about the world he lives in. Since dance is performed to music, another art form, one might say it is just an enhancement, but I think dance can bring a whole new meaning to a piece of music. I haven’t found that there is any type of dance that always qualifies as art. Depending on the choreography, I’ve seen dance as art in individual performances of all types: ballet, contemporary, even hip hop. But it is a rare thing.
It was very interesting to see the passionately different reactions of the judges to the waltz last night. They all loved the choreography and the technique of the dancers, but that didn’t mean they all loved the piece as a work of art. Mia Michaels found Kherington’s smile to be out of place in the piece, saying that she thought there should be “more reality” in her performance. The other judges found her expression to be joyful and uplifting. Mia responded that she could see what they meant, that there was a “beauty and an innocence” in her face, but that, in her opinion, it was “a little glossy.” Nigel Lythgoe pointed out that the couple “breathed together” and “felt the music together.” Mary Murphy said she knew what the choreographer was feeling about his theme, parenthood. The judges found different things to be important, depending on their view of man and of reality. Nigel and Mary were focused on the grace and beauty and were pleased with the consistency of the performance with the style of the waltz. Both seemed to recognize something in the relationship of the dancers to each other and to the music. It touched them – it resonated with their sense of what life is about. For Mia however, the dance clashed with her view of reality, which she implicitly acknowledged by positing a joyful smile and reality as opposites.
The main reason this dance worked as art was its integration. The theme of both the music and the dance was parenthood. Some movements were literal, such as Twitch holding and rocking Kherington like a baby, but most conveyed the feelings of parenthood through their graceful flow and the delicate way the dancers touched each other. The lighting was low and in blue tones, evoking the peace and stillness you might feel watching your baby sleep. The costumes where simple, loose and white, representing the innocence of the baby. The two dancers really did feel the music – they got it. The emotion on both of their faces summed up everything.
I loved this dance so much that I have to buy Celine Dion’s “A New Day Has Come.” That song will now always have a meaning to me it didn’t before.
8:30 – 9:40pm – Sam is screaming while I’m trying to work.
9:40 – 11:30pm – There is silence in the house while I relax and then watch The Daily Show with Adam.
11:30 – 11:50pm – There is silence in the house while I get ready for bed.
11:50pm – 12:15am – I turn out my light and fall asleep within 10 minutes. Immediately after I fall asleep, the dog starts bumping around under the bed, waking me up. I fall asleep again, he bumps again.
12:15 – 1:00am – Just as I’m drifting off again, Sam starts crying. I wait for a while but she seems to have had a bad dream and is working herself up into a frenzy so I go to her room to comfort her and put her back down. After a bit more crying, there is silence again.
1:00 – 2:00am – Just as I’m starting to dream, Sam starts screaming again. I go in her room and tell her it’s sleep time but I don’t pick her up. I leave the room but she screams even more. Eventually, Adam gives her some Motrin in case she’s teething, but we both suspect that Sam’s just working us. She’s been very needy lately and I’ve gone in to her room to comfort her a few times which is one of those huge mistakes I seem to make over and over again.
2:30 – 3:07am – She’s still crying and I can’t take lying there not sleeping anymore so I go downstairs and read Dooce archives for a while. When I notice she’s been quiet for about 10 minutes, I get up to return to bed, but, I kid you not, within two steps, she is crying again. I return to my computer.
3:07 – 3:45am – She got quiet pretty quick this time but now I’m seriously spooked about trying to sleep. After a half hour of silence, I decide to try again. I get up into bed, find the perfect position, and the cat starts howling. I lie there just hoping he stops before he wakes Sam up. Sam wakes up. I go back downstairs, muttering that I guess I might as well stay up so that everyone else can sleep since obviously I AM NOT ALLOWED TO SLEEP.
3:45 – 4:54am – Top Ramen in the middle of the night is very comforting. It is totally silent for 45 minutes. I go back to bed. The cat howls again. I call him up to sleep next to me. He snuggles in and purrs and we get cozy and it’s nice. It takes about 10 minutes, but I start to finally fall asleep again. As soon as he notices this offense, the cat jumps up and runs away, howling, knocking things off shelves and stomping about like he weighs 250 pounds. (Sam seems to be soundly asleep now, so he has to ramp it up a bit.) I just lie there, too tired to move.
4:54 – 5:??am – The cat does something particularly loud. I hear Adam stir and I ask, “Did that actually wake you up?” He says, “Sort of.” I tell him to turn off his alarm and that he can’t go to work tomorrow and I can’t handle it and I’m going to die and the world is conspiring against me and I’ll never sleep again and the cat is evil. He throws the cat in the shower and turns it on, which gives us about a half hour of silence while the cat licks himself dry. I manage to fall asleep in that time, and even though the cat went right back to it when he was reasonably dry, I was able to half-sleep through it.
Adam got up with Sam, fed her and got her dressed, took care of the animals, and let me sleep until 10:30am. I might just forgive him for being a sound sleeper.
Every week or so, a new word or phrase tickles Sam’s funny bone. Last week it was “burp,” this week it is “Barack Obama.” It’s nice to see her comedic taste developing beyond potty to political.
Sam spent her first half-day at a day care center last week. It was a free trial day that they offer to give parents and kids a chance to evaluate the center and the teachers. Sam has been to child care before and has had a number of babysitters, so I wasn’t too concerned about the whole thing. I was already pretty comfortable with the center but I used the free day so Adam and I could go to the DMV – woohoo!
After about 4 hours, I called to see how Sam was doing. Brooke, a cheery, squeaky type of girl, told me that Sam had been a bit clingy but was doing fine overall. Then she added, almost as an aside, that “she did get a bite, though.” Something about this just didn’t compute for me, so I asked her, “What?” She said again, “Sam got a little bite, I’m afraid.” The squeak was muted into what sounded like a bit of concern, although it’s hard to tell with those cheery people. Then she started talking about how the kids were washing their hands and “it just happened” but I couldn’t follow her. This is what was going through my mind:
Hmmm, “bite” – Sam ate some food? Well, she’s supposed to eat there, so why is Brooke telling me this? “Bite” – oh, maybe she was bitten by a mosquito or a spider. But she said something about washing their hands – that happens inside. Are there bugs inside their facility? I didn’t see any. That doesn’t seem right. Wait…I’m getting something…processing…something is coming through here… I think I know what she means but I can’t quite catch up….
Brooke was still talking when I finally interrupted to say, “Wait, do you mean she was bitten by another child?” Bing bing bing bing! I had broken through the bubbly tone and passive voice and figured it out. It turned out to be no big deal and it didn’t really bother me much. It’s just that being bitten by another human being wasn’t part of my universe until that moment. Welcome to the next phase of parenthood, Amy!
Samantha isn’t the only one who is thinking about potty training. The following incident actually happened a couple of months ago, before I saw the signs that she might be ready, and it got me thinking that I might be ready.
When Sam was younger, I used to worry about the “poop-out” all the time. She’s been making 3-4 movements per day for as long as I can remember, and before that it was more. Some of these are just so big and messy that no mere diaper can contain them, especially if you don’t change her immediately. (I’ve discovered that the diaper size your baby should be wearing is not related to the size of her body, but to the size of her product. Sam is usually two sizes up from what is recommended for her weight.) I’m sure this happens with all babies, but I’ve never heard of it happening quite as often as it did with Sam. It was simply a regular occurrence and I became very anxious about it, constantly checking and worrying. I think the worst leak happened when Sam had her first real playdate. I was considering joining the local MOMs club in Lexington and brought Sam to a stranger’s house to hang out with some other kids. Before I knew it, she was scooting around on her bottom (her alternative to crawling) leaving a brown trail all over the woman’s nice hardwood floors. I never did officially join that group.
But my poo-paranoia has subsided recently, as Sam seems to have inherited from me the curse of being a nervous pooer. I think it’s a girl thing. When we’re out of the house, she just saves them up until we get home. It actually makes life more convenient for me right now. I hardly ever even sniff her bum in public anymore, and I almost never have to change a diaper anywhere but at home. Almost never.
In Lexington I’d been taking her to the YMCA with me, where she stayed in child care while I took my yoga class. She had separation anxiety for a while, and they’d have to pull me out of class to come get her. It was embarrassing, and missing Savasana at the end of a yoga class kind of ruins the whole thing. I kept going, though, and she eventually got over it. In fact, she got so comfortable there that she started pooing. So then they started calling me out to change her diaper – arrrrg!
One night, they called me out for yet another diaper change. I went in and saw the big brown stain on her butt…sigh. I got my diaper bag from my locker, came back, and started peeling off her clothes. I took a deep breath, unVelcro’d the Velcro and…nothing in the diaper – what??? I looked at her pants again. It looked like poo. I sniffed it – it smelled like graham cracker. She’d sat on a cracker. They had pulled me out of yoga for crumb-bum, goddammit! Talk about poo-paranoia.
When we start potty training I know it will get worse before it gets better, but I’m ready. By my calculations, I’ve changed at least 3000 diapers already. And now you know why “poo” is the most common word in my vocabulary.
Samantha just hit the big 1.75. Okay, so now I know what people mean about the time going quickly. Sam’s first 10 months went by so slowly, but all of a sudden she is almost 2 years old – that’s crazy!
Walking really jump started Sam’s development. As Dr. Suess observes, walking and thinking are connected:
"You have brains in your head.You have feet in your shoes.You can steer yourselfany direction you choose."
Since we moved I’ve been able to entertain Sam just by taking her outside to roam about since it is a new place to her. I enjoy observing what will attract her attention. She likes flowers, manholes, trees, squirrels, any kind of water, and license plates. But I think she mostly just loves the independence of moving around as she pleases.
Sam loves music right now. We know what music to play for her because if she likes something she’ll dance, but if she doesn’t she’ll cover her ears. Her dancing is so cute – sort of a cross between an orchestra conductor and a jazz musician snapping his fingers with his elbows tucked in to his body. If she’s really loving it, she’ll turn in circles until she is dizzy. Even though Sam still doesn’t talk (just a word here and there), she can sing. Adam and I have independently identified certain tunes she will sing, although it’s usually just a few notes. Other times we hear no tune, but it still sounds like sweet music to us. Today we bought her a 37 key electronic keyboard since she is obsessed with the piano.
I’m quite surprised to see Sam playing with figurines in a way that looks like imaginary play. She’ll take two figures, say a horse and a cow, and make one bite the other (while she growls), and then make them kiss (while she makes the kissy noise), and then make them walk around together and all kinds of other stuff I don’t understand. She favors two figures at a time and they always interact, and she seems to narrate the whole thing in her adorable toddler-babble. I don’t know what is in her head, but she loves this kind of play.
Adam is having a great time roughhousing with Sam. He flips her and throws her and rolls around the floor with her. I don’t think there is anything that makes Sam laugh as much as that kind of play with her dad. Oh, and what a laugh! I’ve got to get out that video camera before that laugh changes.
Bumps and bruises are a normal part of Sam’s life now, as we try not to interfere unless there is serious danger. After riding an elephant back in March, Sam rode her first horse a couple of months ago. We continue to try to expose her to new things as much as possible. With a few exceptions (and those are doozies), most everything we do is just so much more fun with Samantha. We spent close to an hour walking a quarter mile with her the other day and we weren’t bored at all. Tonight we all walked around outside in the rain. We’ve been careful not to make a big deal out of getting wet in the rain, and to show her how cool it is to see water coming from the sky, and what do you know – Sam loves the rain and doesn’t mind getting wet. She even danced to the thunder.
We’re thinking about putting Sam in day care a few half days a week so that I can work on my new project – freelance writing. It will probably take me many months to get anything published, but I hope to make this my next career. This blog is my exercise – my way of writing on a regular basis while I’m pitching ideas and hoping for an assignment. When Sam is three we plan to enroll her in a Montessori preschool for three years, and if I can manage to build a solid part-time writing career by the end of that time, I’ll home school her. That’s the plan.