You have a couple.
And one sings you sweet songs and strokes your chubba arms and gives you kisses.
And the other kinda tortures you.
…and then she sings you sweet songs and strokes your chubba arms and gives you kisses.
And while you’re not being entertained by your siblings’ madness, you’re learning to entertain yourself. Singing. Talking. Waving. Clapping. Climbing. Slapping.
P.S. Can you maybe not slap me so hard in bed in the mornings?
Let’s hear it for the world-traveling babies!
The babies who try new things!
The babies who aren’t afraid to fly! (Literally!)
The worldly babies who won’t wait around, will grab your plate, will have what they’re having.
The babies who climb up the stone stairs when you’re not paying attention, when your back is turned and you hear a happy grunting, a pit-pat of palms coming up behind you; you, slowly turning around, quietly inching towards the staircase, like a cartoon cat realizing the mouse is creeping up behind you, but if you startle it, it will tumble back down the stairs. The babies who, once they reach the top, see you, their faces breaking out in an enormous smile of familiarity and appreciation and accomplishment, whether they realize your heart was racing because you weren’t sure until that moment if they’d see you too soon, get cartoonishly excited, and fall backwards.
The babies who will cock their chubba round heads, look you in the eye through their squinty eyes, stare you down for a few slow seconds, and then slowly – but slowly – break into a smile of like, ‘yeah. You’re ok.’
The babies who are curious and maybe kinda skeptical. But take a bite anyway.
Don’t we know it, Zooey. It’s not easy snagging attention around here. I guess you have a hometown advantage of being the easiest to carry on my back. Just a bunch of koalas after all.
It’s not hard to believe a year has gone by – it’s been such a packed year, what with me stretching maternity leave with you as long as I could… you got a better deal than your siblings that way, too. I did the best I could and went back to work and now I’m trying to snag what I can get. It goes both ways.
Also – you have a thing for balloons. Can you guess why? Here’s a hint: Boobs.
So yeah, it’s been a wild year. We were attached for a lot of that. Even if the balancing act got so much more challenging with an extra kiddie in the house. It’s like you were in the womb, feeling the stress and thinking – when I get out of here, this won’t end. And you figured it out strategically – no pacifiers. No substitutes. Your refusal to ever take a bottle, sip from any variety of sippie cups, or drink from, you know what, any kind of cup at all – well, yeah. We have been attached for a lot of it.
I guess you’re getting away with a lot more than even Nettles did… younger siblings rights… But a whole bag of Bamba is a new low for me.
You’re taking what you can get. It’s a dog eat dog world, Zooey. Pat on the back for you.
(See? I told you I’d be up in your face making you crazy-laugh again…)
The sun and warmth and faint smell of spring have started to creep up around us and so your winter sniffles and spotty sleep schedule have started to melt away. Literally, right now, we’re on the floor together, you’re up on your knees, grabbing me by the collar, getting in my face and smile-saying “Ahhhhhhhhh!!!!” as if something hilarious is on my forehead.
This month you’ve really woken up from a wintry infant slumber. You’re finding things funny but also making things funny. You’re paying attention and grabbing attention. You’re speaking non-stop (did you actually tell me ‘toda’ yesterday after I gave you something?).
There’s a cautious curiosity about you, but you’re not stopped by fear. You also know what you want (and most of the time, it’s to get out of whoever the hell thinks they’re cuddling you and back into my arms). You’re clear, you’re focused, you’ll make yourself heard.
Meanwhile, the calaniyot are not safe around you (and neither are the crumbs on the floor from being consumed, my skin from being lovingly pinched, anything your siblings own from being destroyed).
As befitting a bilingual baby, you’re reaching a little higher than you need to. A little more to figure out in the world.
And of course, curiosity has fully set in; not like I’m at all surprised.
There are months when I take a million and a half pictures of you, where I’m up in your face covering you in kisses, where I tickle torture you until you snort. Zooey this was not one of those months because there’s so much going on. But I’ve missed you during late nights at work and the good thing is I’ve done this enough to know it’ll end and the month will go on and you’ll be snorting in laughter because of me soon again.
On the one hand, you make your opinions known.
My baby ate my homework.
On the other hand, you have to constantly watch your back.
And that’s a lesson in how to survive in your family of six.
Durable. Is that a weird way to describe you?
Persistent. Attentive. Problem-solving.
You’re proving more by the day that you can keep up, especially with Nettles. The thought of the pair of you… well… makes me realize I’m going to need to up my game.
In the meantime… stay innocently curious, deliciously cute, with that face that reads, yeah, I’m in the joke.
No joke – you’ve made it clear. You may be four, but you’ve given me a run for my money. This doesn’t get easier just because you’ve done something similar before.
Going back to work has been extremely difficult – that has always been the case – but your refusal to take a bottle was incredibly frustrating and a little scary. For a couple months, I had to contend with the fact that I’d have to go back to work and you would just not eat enough. You wouldn’t take a bottle and you wouldn’t let a spoon enter your lips.
We got through it – you’re eating beautifully, and you’re getting your nutrients your way. And you did me a favor. Us a favor. You’ve forced me to slow down. You’ve shown me I have to make time for you, make sure we spend time together. You won’t fall between the cracks. You won’t be neglected or forgotten.
You’ve made a point of not being just #4 or the baby or another kid to feed.
You are THE kid to feed. The kid I have to stop what I’m doing and sit with.
So thanks, Zooey. Thanks for creating the space for that. Thanks for making me slow down with you.
Also… I love when you high-five me as you start your meal.