One of the most thrilling things about being a first time parent, and there are so many, is witnessing the development of new abilities every day. Sure, when they all come in the span of three days it's a little overwhelming. Despite repeated requests to slow down, this kid started crawling, sitting up, and talking in sentences all within half a week. And by sentences, I mean long strings of "DA-DA-DA-DA-DA-DA-DA-DA-DA." But it's awesome (and I mean that in all earnestness- I'm often literally in awe these days) to see her just do new things all the time, without any prompting or modeling from her parents.
My favorite example of late is her capacity to listen to and enjoy music. Of course it is. You know me. A few days ago in the car she interrupted a really stellar car seat tantrum to chime in with the refrain of NA NA NAs at the end of Hey Jude. What can I say? The kid has good taste, and loves a sing-along hook. And NA is one of the three words she knows well, aside from the aforementioned DA and EEEEEEEEEEEEEE.
Lila also has a penchant for offering her opinion on the quality of different musics without hesitation. I wonder where she gets that from. Just before bed one night we sat on the rug in her room, my iPod plugged into her little stereo. As I scrolled through track after track she looked at me and eagerly gave either an approving laugh or a red-eyed wail, though never a neutral reaction. Some of her favorites include Nena's 99 Red Luftballons and The Polyphonic Spree's Light and Day. The one song that made her cry the hardest was Rick Astley's Never Gonna Give You Up. Yeah, that's right. Rick Astely, you made my daughter cry, which you specifically promised you would not do. Astely-jerk.
After the tears we had a pretty good dance party, which is the first one we've had since Lila has been out in the real world. Here are the ones that really got her moving and giggling:
Mutato Muzika Orchestra, Hey Jude.
Nelly Furtado, I'm Like A Bird.
Nena, 99 Red Luftballoons.
Phish, My Sweet One.
The Polyphonic Spree, Light and Day.
Ahh, what the H. Here's a little Astley for you all. Try not to cry.
You know what, Lila? I won't give you up, let you down, run around and desert you either. But I will flip you upside down and kiss you. See?
When I was pregnant, I blogged about how watching the Anderson kiddos was great preparation for parenting. Talk about good blog-writing material. One day we took a road trip to visit Eric at work for lunch. Isaac was a bit enamored with Eric (who he calls Derrick, or rather "Dewick") so, despite Eric's attempts to get a conversation going, Isaac spent the first 30 minutes shyly eating his cheesy hotdog. But after a while, he got up the courage to talk to Eric. The culmination of this conversation has become a regular catch phrase in our house:
Isaac: Hey Dewick!
Eric: Yeah Isaac?
Isaac: (banging on the table) Am I a good dwummuh?
Eric: Yes, Isaac! You're a very good drummer!
Isaac: (jumping to his feet on the bench and crouching down) Am I a GWEAT snowbowduh?
Eric: (laughing) YES!
Well, as prepared for this parenting gig as I thought I was after last summer (on top of my many years of baby-sitting), I have something to tell you.
I repent! I repent! I will admit that I have been harboring a bit of self-righteous pride for my genius daughter's ability to sleep for long hours at an early age AND for the relative ease with which we have been able to get her to sleep. Swaddle her, bink her, kiss her, lights out. She would "yell" for 3-5 minutes and then she'd nod right off.
I ashamedly remember that silent tsk, tsk I would allow myself when other mommies would tell me about how they nursed, rocked, sang or bounced their babies to sleep, breathlessly laid them down and tip-toed out of the room with the hopes that they wouldn't be back in for round two, three or four. I would honestly think, "They're doing it all wrong!" And my sweet little sleepy angel was my proof.
But I repent! I confess my pride and condescension for, my friends, the tides have turned. Bedtime has become the torture that I thought we would never experience (at least with this child). Gone are the days when Eric and I would sit in the living room giggling at the cute little squawks of protest coming from Lila's room. They have been replaced with hour-long minutes of watching the clock, enduring the howls of anguish from my tortured daughter, telling myself "5 more minutes, then I'll go in there." She gets herself so worked up that she starts choking on her own saliva and her voice goes hoarse. Lila is screaming her little heart out for someone to come comfort her.
The thing is, it's not comfort she really wants. She wants to party. After a few minutes of calming her down, the shrieks stop and she grins at us through her bink as if to say, "Oh, hello! Is it time to play now? Are we done with all this bedtime silliness?" And I think to myself, "Self, you are a sucker."
So the only solution is to just let her cry. And as Lila cries, her mommy has to fight back her own tears (and guilt and questions about her sanity and the quality of her parenting and, and, and). In those moments, I think about how tough I used to be. In my many years of babysitting, I never let kids walk all over me like this! But there's something about your own baby. Not only does it just break your heart to hear her that upset, but you also have to fight the desire to be the rescuer, the comforter, the healer, the problem-solver! Because every time I give in to the crying, my self esteem gets a bit of a boost. She's so relieved to see me! All she wants is for me to pick her up and hold her! And I know that won't last forever - I mean, she's gonna turn 14 someday, right!?
But it's not about giving her what she wants or even what I want. It's about what's best for her. And the girl needs to sleep. So tonight as I was sitting at the table listening to her wailing and resisting the urge to barge into her room, Eric sweetly came up and kissed me on the top of my head and said, "You're a good mom." And then he added, "And a great snowboarder."
I'm beginning to understand the appeal of the "stay-cation." In the last 3 weeks we have logged more than our fair share of travel time. We took Lila on her first plane ride to Denver for my Uncle Mark's wedding. The trip was short and sweet and Lila did mostly well on the plane. I am learning more and more that I have NO idea what I'm doing as a parent. I had about 8 lists (no joke) going as I was preparing for the trip: Lila's Stuff, Mommy's Stuff, Lila's Carry-on, Mommy's Carry-on, The Stuff Mommy Couldn't Fit in Her Bag So We're Stuffing it in Daddy's Bag, The Last Minute Stuff, etc, etc. Mock me if you will, but those lists came in handy when we took our second family "vacation" to Tan-tar-a this week. This time, via automobile.
The car ride wasn't necessarily better than the plane ride, but it wasn't necessarily worse. Just a different monster. On the plane, we were cooped up for 2 hours straight with not even the option to stand up to bounce the happiness into Baby Girl. In the car when Lila wasn't sleeping, we stopped every 45 minutes or so to give LJ (and Mama) a break which turned the 3 hour trip into a 5 hour trip. Every time Lila woke up from a "nap" (if you can call 20 minutes a nap) she would immediately begin the "Squawk of Protest" routine. The high-pitched squealing that seemed to say, "What?! I'm still in this carseat? What's the DEAL?!" After our breaks, when I would try to buckle her in, she would arch her back or lean forward to avoid being strapped into the carseat again. On the way home as a distraction from shrieks of distress coming from the backseat, I began my mental pros and cons list in preparation for our trip to Minneapolis this fall.
- quicker trip=less torture
- forced moderation for my over-packing tendencies
- the airlines (which are notorious for not being customer-friendly) are surprisingly kid-friendly and give families flying with kids preferred boarding and check-in options
- although less torture for us, more torture for the poor suckers who get stuck on our flight
- forced moderation for my over-packing tendencies (what if I forget something!?)
- we're on their schedule
- we're on our (or rather, Lila's) schedule
- we can bring whatever the heck I want as long as I can shove it in the car
- we don't threaten the birth rate by convincing innocent fellow passengers that they do not, in fact want to have babies of their own
- 8 hours - no, wait probably more like 11 hours = more torture
- we can't find the baby in the midst of all the junk I have shoved in the car