Five recent joyful things

1. Playing hide and seek and hearing your high pitched giggle echo in the hallway.
2. The "Mama's a dancing freak" game: when you wake up from a nap, you spin the dial on your crib mirror and make the music play. I dance around the room until the music stops and then wait, in an absurd pose, until you spin it again. You caught on right away and seem to enjoy it just as much as I do. I take your giggles as intense praise rather than viewing them as a probable precursor to eye-rolling embarrassment.
3. the "Is it a hat?" game: I put anything and everything on my head and then your head and then Sweet Dog's head and ask you "Is it a hat?". Endless variations include: "Is it a shoe?", "Is is an earring?" and "Is it a pacifier?".
4. Watching you sign "light". When you first started pointing you would often point at a light and grunt. So we taught you the sign for "light". Your version is a nonchalant pantomime for "penny-pinching" instead of the clear "light" sign we make. Somehow, magically, saying "Yes, Z, it IS a light!" has yet to get old.
5. When we walk Sweet Dog, you like to help. Often I see your little arm reaching all the way out to the side of your stroller to hold onto the leash. If only I felt okay about handing you the filled poop bags. Now THAT would be useful.


Five things that are not officially toys except in our house when I'm desperate

1. Expensive art paper that is stored in an antique family heirloom desk that is both impossible to baby proof and close to the computer so I can watch you and email/surf the net/blog while you tear up paper that I won't have time to make into any fancy cards anytime soon anyway.

2. Strange and magical kitchen tools that have prongs, holes or silicone bits.

3. Stones, dirt, twigs, redwood bark mulch, flowers, lemons and all green growing things (without thorns) in our back yard.

4. Plastic bags, bubble wrap and any and all junk mail (only with supervision, people!)

5. Sweet Dog and her fur, both on and off her body.


There's a sucker born every minute.

Dear Z,

At your first year appointment, our pediatrician looked us right in the eye and said: “Those pacifiers should be gone by 18 months. The sooner the better. It’ll start to warp her developing teeth.”

Ah, a new thing to worry about! Perfect. Because, you know, it’s been almost 4 whole seconds since I last worried about something relating to you.

As an infant, you wanted to pacify yourself on my body. So to relieve the agony of my poor udders, and to keep you from nursing till you were so full you’d invariably spit up half of it, we gave you a pacifier. And the rest is orthodontic history.

You use your pacifiers to sleep. If you ever need tending to in the middle of the night it’s usually because your pacifier has fallen out of the crib and you can’t get it. You like to have them while you are in the car or stroller and after a meal (does this sound like a cigarette addiction or what?). You like to have them for a while after waking up and when you have just fallen, gotten a shot at the doctor’s office, entered a crowded public place or just been stricken with inexplicable pissiness. Add those all up and it’s pretty much all the time.

I was hoping that in giving you the pacifier, we would be in control and we could take away those suckers any time we wanted to. You wouldn’t suck your thumb endlessly like I did. Oh no, missy. No having braces TWICE for you, my dear. No “rapid palate expansion appliance” for your mother to twist with a little satanic key every night. No speech therapy to correct a thumb-sucking-induced lisp. No sucking your thumb raw until it moves right past looking like a wrinkled raisin to become a frighteningly smooth, fingerprintless orb (think of all the crimes my thumb could have gotten away with when I was 12!). No social anxiety at sleep overs, hiding under the sleeping bag while you furtively comfort yourself to sleep; preferring sweating to death from the down insulation to risking the exposure of your secret love affair with your own thumb or worse, suffering a sleepless night with no oral fixation crutch.


Anyway, your dad and I immediately decided that we would Crack Down. No more pacis except for naptime and bedtime for the next six months then none at all, ever. That lasted about ten whole hours. You know where the pacis dry after washing and you spent the better part of the next day pointing up to the drying rack and crying sad, bitter tears. I felt your pain. Seriously. I sucked my thumb for long enough (Was I 13 when I finally stopped? 14??) to have many, many memories of the comfort it provided.

So I gave it to you then and randomly, but frighteningly often, since. Your dad is not pleased with this turn of events and I can only say in my defense: “Dude, if you want to be the one to hang with Zoe while she goes through some nasty withdrawal BE MY GUEST.”

I am ambivalent about the fact that we, as your parents, have the choice of whether or not you comfort yourself with sucking. In some ways it would be easier if you sucked your thumb. Then I could look at you and shrug and say “Well, it’s a part of her. What can I do?”. Instead, I fear we will be the mom and 3 year old at the grocery store that everyone stares at and thinks “Jeez, lady. Don’t you know she should have given that up by now? Just take it away, already.”

Someday we’ll be taking them away. I don’t know just how or when but when we do, rest assured that I understand your loss. And, as always, we’re doing what we hope is best for you.


Gait analysis

Dear Z,

You started walking, really walking, on Monday. We were in our Parenting Education class and you were happily playing in the middle of the baby mosh pit when you suddenly stood up and walked 128 steps toward me (okay, maybe it was more like 10). I was shocked and enveloped you in a big hug. Ever since then, you walk like it’s your job. Your face is full of concentration. Your gait is a little stiff and arrhythmic, your arms out in front of you like Frankenstein. Your feet pad along, with or without shoes, on grass, concrete, hardwood floors and rugs. And, often, you walk fast, arms reaching towards me with a big grin on your face, knowing that you will be greeted by yet another huge hug. This is my job.

I suppose I could get all weepy and “now-you-can-walk-away-from-me” about it, but I have to say it’s a welcome change from being permanently stooped over your toddling form, making yet another endless loop around the house and backyard. I love that you can go where you want to go. I love standing back and seeing where your curiosity takes us.

There are still some noticeable asymmetries in your body and movement, probably leftovers from your torticollis. I can’t decide whether this is a product of my imagination or a karmic joke on me. I cannot ignore what I see but I also know that I am primed to overreact given the fact that I spent the first 30 years of my life obsessed with dance and movement, trying anything and everything to get my body to approximate a perfect dancing instrument. My limitations as a dancer haunted and frustrated me. It took years of therapy to let go of them and accept my body as the beautifully imperfect thing it is. And sometimes when I look at you I think: here we go again.

Yesterday, we went to see Amy, your physical therapist, and she says you’re doing really well. And she says it’s not all in my head. You are still a little weak on that right leg, still stiff in the right side of your rib cage and shoulder. We need to watch your asymmetries so that you don’t develop any scoliosis. She’s worried about your lack of skill- and fear- with steps; since you never learned to crawl up them, you have no idea how to safely go down them. So I intervene and force you to use your right leg as you pull up, walk up steps and balance. I force you onto your pudgy knees and make you move down stairs safely. You push my hands away and get fussy as I try to change the movement patterns that you think work perfectly well.

And I whisper to you: “I know you’re frustrated, Z. But this too is my job.”

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