David just turned fifteen months old and, I don’t know, this one might not make it into the baby book.
This month we’ve coined the nickname Grumpelstiltskin because it’s cuter than any other expletive that comes to mind when he’s scratching his eyes out because we’re changing his diaper.
I’m blaming all this moodiness on his nap transition and the fact that he is still teething. Remember when I took him to the doctor because he was screaming nonstop and it turned out to just be teething? A month later and it’s still happening. He’s getting m*lars…which is now a dirty word in our house.
If anything, this month has taught me (again) that I don’t know what I’m doing. One of the first things I realized when David was born was that all the experience I had as a babysitter or an aunt flew out the window when the doctor handed me this tiny brand new little baby. Somewhere along the way that feeling faded and I started thinking I knew what I was doing. This month was a 30-day reminder: I’m a novice, and I think I always will be.
For example: David usually screams when I leave the room, look into the other room, or when I drink water, which means I’ll eventually need to go to the bathroom, which means I’ll have to leave the room. The other day I was putting some groceries away in the kitchen and he played happily in the living room. Instead of disrupting the magic by checking on him, I took advantage of the time until it grew suspiciously long. I should have known.
Another lesson: For months I’ve been excited for David to learn the word “no.” He’s pretty headstrong, so I couldn’t wait for the day when I would say “no” and he would immediately stop taking clean clothes out of the laundry basket and stuffing them under the stove.
Well, good news. David knows what “no” means. And all that time I spent wishing he’d learn “no” it honestly never occurred to me that he’d ever say it. To me.
Now, David says no all the time: when I change his clothes, put him in the car seat or wipe his face. It’s so wonderful to finally understand each other.
David’s learning, too. He now knows what a kitty cat, doggy and cow says. The kitty cat is my favorite, because you can tell he has to use all his energy to form the word and say, “mooooow”.
He says lots of words, like cheese, ball and choo-choo, and I think he’s starting to say Mommy, but it sounds more like “Noni”. He knows where his belly button is and gives high-fives. His interest in books has grown to a full-blown obsession, and I’m not proud to admit this, but I’ve actually resorted to hiding a few of his books because some children’s books are written to engage children and annoy parents. Hiding the books seemed better than throwing them through the window.
Dropping from two naps to one teeny tiny little baby nap has sort of rocked our world and inspired the question: WHAT DID I USED TO DO WITH ALL MY TIME?
David is somewhere between needing more sleep but not wanting more sleep, and the result…is Grumpelstiltskin. The other day he went down, exhausted, at 12:45 and woke up at 2:15. That’s what? A 3-hour nap? It must be because everyone promised me that when kids drop their morning nap they start taking a huge three hour afternoon nap…I WAS MISLED!
Then the kicker is that he wakes up from his nap screaming in agony, as if I woke him up by running into his room and blasting Nickelback. And then sometimes he just screams for an hour after his nap, too, just to make sure I know he’s unhappy.
Now that David doesn’t nap until noon, I often don’t brush my teeth, check my email, or make the bed until noon. Ok. So maybe I never make the bed.
The other day David was playing in the living room and stumbled over something. When he fell, it was a slow, dramatic, head-over-feet type fall that you only see on a ski slope. He wasn’t hurt at all, and when he finally stopped falling, I laughed. David laughed back at me, and once he understood that I was amused he just started walking around and falling down, then looking back at me and throwing his head back in laughter.
David’s a lot like his dad, but in that moment he was a lot like me — loving a moment as the center of attention; sucking up crowd approval. Once, when I was in college I snorted salt off a table through a dollar bill for crowd approval. I think I got to keep the dollar, but it wasn’t worth it.
As David grows up I’ll probably have lots of reminders that I don’t know what I’m doing, and after all the learning we’ve done this month I’m setting my bar at “raise a kid who has enough sense to never snort salt off a table.”
Since you’ve been born I’ve been waiting for the day when all this would get easier. I looked forward to three months, then six months, then 12 months, and then last week someone told me it’s 18 months. At 18 months they turn a corner.
I’m slowly realizing that I’ve been spending too much time trying to push you to be a kid you’re not. You’re not the kid who will leave the trash can alone when you’re told, you’re the kid who’s going to look me in the eye, open the trash can, stuff the cat inside and then close it, all while pointing your finger at me and saying, “NO!”
There isn’t a magic time when parenting becomes easy, and there probably shouldn’t be. Parenting isn’t something you just sort of coast through as a spectator, it’s a roll your sleeves up and jump in sort of job.
You’re a kid who is spirited and determined and curious, which sometimes means you’re too amped to take long naps or sleep past 6 a.m. And sometimes that determination turns to frustration, and you need to get it out by banging your head on the floor. I’m going to try to stop wishing you were different and instead try to be the best mommy for you – a mommy who is patient and gentle and loving. The Bible says those things come from walking with the Spirit, to those who belong to Christ.
We’re getting there, you and me. And maybe the best thing we can do along the way is to realize that we’re both works in progress.