Wednesday, March 17, 2010

But Can She Make a Dry Martini?

Charlotte's particular brand of independence is what I would call defective. I would like to exchange it. No, I do not have a receipt. THIS ISN'T WHAT I ORDERED!

Don't get me wrong. I love that she is so independent. In fact, I think my kid is pretty bad ass. She is brave; just today my mom and I took her to get her picture taken with the Easter bunny. I was worried that she would be scared of him, not want to sit in his lap, that I would have to bribe her with cookies or the whip cream from my overly-indulgent coffee drink. Instead, I watched with pride as she sauntered right up to him, climbed into his lap, and started chatting to him in her own special language. We even got a good picture out of her!


At the playground, she loves the slides, and she wants to negotiate the ramps and stairs without my help (She is afraid of the swings though, which is lame). When I vacuum, she doesn't cower or cry; rather, she smiles and wants to investigate where the noise is coming from. Today she even followed me around, holding the cord for me. She's a big helper. Charlotte loves to shut drawers and cabinets for us, throw things in the trash, hand us the objects we ask for, and brush our hair, as well as her own. This is the stuff that makes me beam with adoration. But, there are also several downsides.

Sometimes she wants to assert her independence when it is just downright inconvenient. The other day, my friend and I took our kids to the park. Samantha is five, and though she adores Charlotte, she quickly gets frustrated by the baby's inability to play hide-and-go-seek with her and her propensity to put the toys Samantha packed for them to play with, directly into her mouth. So, when a couple of older boys started rolling down the hillside, Sammy was quick to ditch us for their company. This left my friend and I to entertain Charlotte. We wanted to keep her on the blanket with us so we could talk and catch up. But, Charlotte was more interested in walking over to another group of people, trying to chat them up. So, I had to go get her and bring her back. Then she wanted to go play with the big kids. But, they were playing with a ball. A ball that most likely would have clobbered the baby if she got to close to the game. So I had to go get her. We tried to make staying with us seem fun. Jami put up a valiant effort, but, alas, Charlotte could not be appeased. She very magnanimously uttered a few courtesy laughs at Jami's exuberant antics: putting the Polly Pocket on a green dog, making the dog fly, making the dog talk, putting it on her head, but soon enough, Charlotte was ambling across the grass, chasing after Samantha and the other kids. I mean, come on, Charlotte. A talking, green dog that flies? What more do you want? So, I spent the rest of the afternoon alternately chatting with my friend and collecting the baby from various locations.

And when you pick that kid up when she doesn't want to be held? Oh, man, you should hear the squawking. Yes, squawking. Like a bird. Like, a loud, obnoxious bird. And her whole body gets stiff as she attempts to maneuver her way out of your arms. The best part is that she does it in public! Like yesterday, at the coffee shop when she tried pulling candles and mugs off the display shelf. My mom and I took turns scooping her up and away from the forbidden fruit. Meanwhile, the other patrons of the coffee shop shoved biscotti into their ears to block the horrendous squawking. Why not just lead her away from the breakables, instead of picking her up? Because that's when she throws herself onto the floor and cries, a la tantrum! I'm telling you, this girl is a piece of work.

For our next course we have "I can do it myself" followed by a little "If you try to take that spoon away from me, I will cut you" (With a knife. Which we totally let her have). Charlotte likes to feed herself. I wrote about it once before when she was first starting on solids. She liked to hold the spoon herself and put it into her mouth early on. But, now the mealtime shenanigans are on quite another level. She eats very little pureed food these days, which means most of the time, she is deftly shoveling tofu, peas, or avocado into her own mouth at an alarming pace. But, hey, it works for me. I can clean the kitchen while she chows down. UNFORTUNATELY, there is the matter of her very favorite food ever, and that, sadly, is yogurt. When I pull a container out of the fridge, she starts grabbing and bouncing and chattering like a monkey about to be given a banana. It starts out with her wanting to hold the container, while I dip the spoon in and feed her. Then she squeezes the container, and yogurt gets all over her hands. At which point she begins to SUCK the yogurt off her hands, making a slurping noise that almost makes the squawking bearable. I said almost. Then, my worst nightmare is actualized, as she decides it's time for her to hold the spoon. This wouldn't be so bad except that she is a baby. A baby with very under-developed motor skills. A baby with little coordination who sometimes falls down when she laughs. She can't actually get the contents of her snack onto her spoon. So, in a last-ditch effort to feed herself without my help, she DRINKS the yogurt. I laugh and laugh because it is adorable and funny and then I realize that FUCK! I have to clean this off of her. I figure it's not kosher to just dump a bucket of water over her head, so I begin the arduous process of wiping her down with a warm washcloth. Lots of batting away of the hands.

More squawking.

I know, I know. This is all par for the course with a toddler. And, honestly, this isn't what really bothers me. The (pathetic) fact is that sometimes her independence makes me sad. I feel like I spent her first few months on this planet sleep-deprived, and wishing I could lay her down for five minutes without her waking up and screaming. I was stifled by her neediness. And now I can scarcely get her to slow down for a drive-by hug or to let me hold her for more than a few minutes. I tried to listen when everyone told me to relish the days when all she needed was me, because those days were numbered. They were certainly right. I remember those words ringing in my head when she took nap after nap on my shoulder, her sweaty head sticking to my skin. I'd be hungry, hot, need to go to the bathroom. Everyone would tell me to PUT THAT BABY DOWN. But, I wouldn't. I remember marveling at the fact that Charlotte "tricked me" into cosleeping It was something I had never planned on doing. Chris and I would complain about the kicks to the head, the snoring, the tossing and turning. But, secretly, I loved it. No matter what kind of day we'd had, there was my sweet little girl (while she slept, at least), snuggling up to me, her hands on my face. I was a little relieved, but mostly heartbroken, when she wouldn't sleep anymore, and we had to move her to her crib. I forced the issue long past its expiration date, bringing her to bed when she wouldn't sleep, thinking "This time it'll work!", only to be thwarted yet again. I'd like to think I savored every minute of her neediness, but in my heart I know there were times that I wanted her out of my bed, off my boob, and maybe even in a different time zone. I don't know if that could have been helped. But, I do know that I miss those days, in a way. Even though where we are now, and where we are headed is so much more exciting.

Ah, simplicity!

I suppose all I can do now is continue to marvel at her powerful, little spirit. And enjoy every minute that she allows me to hold her, smelling her hair, feeling the weight of her on my chest as we watch Sesame Street in the morning (one of the only times she cuddles with me), watching her drift off at her 4 A.M. feeding, and even the cumbersome bulk of her on my hip when I am trying to cook dinner and NOW she wants to be held. I know these days are numbered, as well. Sigh!

See ya!


  1. Wow, we so aren't here yet, but I guess it's just a matter of time. E is just working on getting his balance long enough to take a step.

    I can't believe there will be a time when he wants to go play with other kids instead of being bjorned to me. (And the sad part? I prefer the bjorn because it's easy! Chasing down a toddler? Not so much.)

    Also: Adorable bunny picture! She's even got the posing down!

  2. Man, that's not sad. I wish she would just let me wear her more often! She goes for it once in a great while, but usually, she just wants to be off, doing her thing. :)

  3. I forget about these parts of motherhood, until I read your writing. You forget almost all of the bad stuff as soon as it's over. Great work, Grasshopper!

  4. LOL. Our daughters should meet! A is equally fiercely independent. She cried for 1/2 an hour yesterday until I figured out what she wanted was to 'eat' applesauce with her own bowl and spoon. Needless to say this exercise was followed immediately by a bath.