Monday, June 30, 2008

Month 14, Month 14 1/2, Month 15

Dear Will,

I have sat down to write this letter to you so many times over the past 8 weeks, but you have kept me on the move. When you are finally asleep (for the first part of the night, anyway) I am usually too tired to do anything but read a few blogs or watch something on Animal Planet. But suddenly you are 15 months old, and I don’t want to stop writing these letters to you. Maybe they are even more for me than for you. I want to be able to capture a little bit of who you are at this point in your life.

As you may have guessed from my exhaustion, you now excel at walking. You still totter around like you are a little bit drunk, and you often lose your balance or fall. But you walk everywhere now, almost never crawling. You are both fast and particular. If you see something that interests you then you take off towards it, but if there is a little step or some grass in your way, you study it for a long time before deciding whether to attempt the new terrain. Grass usually isn’t something you want to touch with your feet, incidentally; you much prefer the harder surface of the sidewalk.

Your approach to walking exemplifies your confidence, a quality I am so happy that you possess. When we were in the mall the other day, my friend had to stay with your stroller while you explored benches and wandered into stores. You loved walking into a store, stopping to listen to the music, dancing for a moment and then tottering out again. Since you love walking back and forth on the equipment, I have found a new favourite playground for us, one that has a safe enclosed area with no holes for slides or poles. You love to explore and get very excited when you see a playground in the distance. If there are any other kids there it’s even better – you wave and follow them around, and sometimes they even stop to play with you.

I have also taken you to a couple of different splash pads in the warm weather, and Will, you are fearless. You want to explore every fountain and toy, oblivious to the ten-year-old boys tearing by you with water guns. The splash pad at Zooz is a little less stressful for me; there you can wade through the water and explore the fountains more freely. When we go to Zooz you also adore visiting the goats. We are allowed to go right into their pen, and you take my hand so you can follow them around and pet them or lean in for a kiss. Grandpa gets a little bit nervous that the ones with horns will knock you down, but you are very comfortable tottering from goat to goat for a visit.

Your memory is amazing and with it, you are starting to really like some of our “rituals” (if not quite routines). When I ask if you want to get the mail, you walk right over to the door and point to the handle. Then you take my hand and lead me to the mailboxes, stopping to see the firehose, the electrical socket, the elevator, the lobby chairs and the plants along the way. You have started taking my hand whenever you want to show me something or take me somewhere. You are very strong, and it takes a lot to pull away from your grip if it isn’t a good time to follow you. I love that you can show me what you are interested in, and lead me where you want to go.

Of course, this ability to tell us what you want has exploded over the last few weeks. You now point at everything and make lots of sounds letting us know that you want something over there, right now! Some days you do this by shrieking, which is something I can do without. We try to ignore your shrieks and make a big deal out of all of your other sounds, and unless you are really excited, usually it works. You shake your head adamantly for “no” (this has replaced the waving of your hands) and very rarely nod your head “yes.” You babble more than ever now, using a lot of “nya nya nya” sounds and a sort of “fsh fsh” sound. I am pretty sure I have heard you use a few “real” words too: “up up up,” "banana," "no," "water," "Mama," "Dada" and "cat". But you also do things on your own terms, Will, and you refuse to repeat any word I repeat back to you.

You do use lots of signs consistently, and you now use them without prompting and in context. If you see a dog (or another animal, even on TV!) you make the sign for dog. You sign “more” when you actually want more of something, “eat” when I ask you if you are hungry, “cracker” after watching your video, “wash hands,” “shoes” with a pair of shoes in your hands, your version of “cat” (the petting motion), “sleep,” and “thank you.” You point at dogs and squirrels and birds when we are in the park. You love waving to anyone and everyone, but especially to Daddy when he’s leaving for work. You get quite upset when he goes out the door, but if we go outside and wave as he drives away you are okay again.

You can also point to many of your own body parts – belly button, nose, ears, hair, knees, toes – as well as some of mine and your doll’s. You love to find your doll’s belly button and eyes, and you like to pat my hair and take my glasses off to see my eyes. You use your brush (or mine) to brush all of our hair, and when you see the picture of the doctor in “The Velveteen Rabbit” who is wearing glasses, you point to them and then grab at mine. You love to stack toys, and put things in and out of containers. You are becoming an expert at your big legos, not only pulling them apart but after focusing really hard one day, you are very good at putting them together. You still love snuggling with your stuffed animals, but now you are very focused on make them sit up. This works better for some than others.

You have become a little bit obsessed with things that honk. You love the horns on your trucks and Dora car, which you have figured out how to sit on, if not actually move forward. You also love putting things on your head, not only hats but your “baby legs” legwarmers, cloths and towels, and even one of your auntie's cat toys, which made you look like you were wearing a boa. You still love reading stories, and now you enjoy colouring too. You have figured out how to make the crayon work, and you can focus for quite a long time choosing colours and making artwork in one of your colouring books.

There are so many images of you that capture your emerging personality: the way you dance so expressively when the Judge Judy music comes on, the way you look like a professor (albeit a naked one) when you walk around with your hands behind your back before your bath. The way you now drop your body weight onto the floor when you do not want to do something or go somewhere. The way you eat your Life cereal and even pieces of chicken like a big girl. The way you stretch your arms up to mimic me when I stretch, and reach up to me when you want me to pick you up. The way you make kiss sounds and pat me on the back when you give me a hug.

You are fun and fascinating and so interesting to be around. I’m so happy that I get to share this time with you.

Love, Mama

Thursday, June 26, 2008

We took Will for her 15-month well baby check-up today. It went fine; her ears are clearing up nicely from her (first!) horrible ear infection of a couple of weeks ago. But it made me remember again why it is so important to trust your family doctor, but still realize her limitations in terms of your own child.

For example, she actually asked about toilet training. Toilet training! At fifteen months! Since we are not participating in any sort of elimination communication craziness in this house, that seems a bit premature, don't you think? But of course, since the doctor is bringing it up, I did have a second of panic: should we be toilet training?!

Will is also only saying a couple of words - and those ones sporadically and without repetition - but she signs more than 10 words in context, can communicate very effectively in other ways, and definitely understands what we are saying to her. The developmental guidelines I've read mean she's right on track, so I'm not particularly concerned. Still, it's hard not to get a little defensive when the doctor suggests that when Will starts interacting with other kids, her language will really pick up.

Um, hello? Will interacts with other kids all the time! We've taken Kindermusik classes since she was 6 months old, and we go to swimming and the library's story time. Not to mention getting together with my friends who have kids the same age. My doctor doesn't know our schedule, but it seems presumptuous to make that kind of a comment. And since she does interact with other kids, does that also mean I should be worried about her language?

I'm just glad I know that family docs are not childhood development experts, and I'm the one who spends every day with Will, I know her best. And I don't have any concerns about her language skills.

But if you hung on the doctor's every word without any kind of critical eye? That would be very stressful.

Monday, June 23, 2008

That's why monkey mamas look so tired

On Saturday, my brother and his family joined us for a trip to "Zooz." Their son was born about 10 weeks after Will, so the difference in their ages is quickly vanishing. As much as Will often chooses to share, she also chooses to yank away. Every time her cousin showed any sort of interest in one of her toys, it was suddenly the only toy she was interested in.

Our invitation wasn't purely to get the cousins together for some family fun. With our trip to Vancouver coming up in a couple of weeks, we have finally put together our will. We wanted to ask my brother and SIL if they would consider becoming Will's guardians if our plane crashes. How morbid.

I sprung it on them in much the same way as I announced my pregnancy: bluntly and without grace. For that announcement, my mom had arranged for some of my siblings to be over at the house when we were visiting. As I was trying to figure out how to let them in on the news, my brother said he had to leave soon. I didn't want to lose my nerve (or the opportunity) and blurted out: "Before you go, I want you to know something. I'm pregnant."

The look on my brother's face was priceless, and my youngest sister nearly fell over. Of course, he was shocked because he and his wife were on the verge of finding out that their son was on the way. Neither one of us had any idea the other was even trying.

On Saturday, we had just ordered lunch and were discussing the upcoming trip. "Speaking of that," I said smoothly. "We wanted to ask you if you would consider becoming Will's guardian if our plane explodes. Is there any good way to ask that question?"

I'm comfortable with our decision, even though the idea of our daughter being raised by anyone other that us is so terrible (even with the sound of her sobbing now as her dad tries to put her to sleep) I can't stand to think about it for long.

Fortunately, it was followed by a fun afternoon with a vicious parrot who lured us close with a friendly "Hello!", a monkey who was mounted by her mate while breastfeeding her infant, and a splash pad.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A person of interest

For the purpose of this blog, I chose a name for my daughter that is taken from the most Western part of her given name. The name that she goes by is Western too, but it is also Indian. That's what we love about it: the name is both European and Indian, crossing cultures, just like our family.

Today Will and I went to our favourite park. There is an enclosed area where she can run up and down, without me having to worry about her falling through a space for a slide or a pole. Soon after we arrived, an Indian woman and her daughter pulled up, and we started asking the mandatory mom questions as we pushed our girls on the swings. How old is she? What is her name?

When I told her Will's name, her demeanor shifted. "That's an Indian name." We had become much more intriguing to her now.

"Yes. Her dad's Indian."

"Have you taken her to India?" An interesting follow-up question.

"No. Her dad hasn't even been there yet."

She nodded, processing the information. "We've gone back twice. Once when she was a year and a half, and again last year for a wedding. She's four now."

Within ten minutes, we had run through all the *important* information: the professions of our husbands, other Indian people she knew in my husband's career, her own level of education at the graduate level, my career and current choice to stay at home. I could sense her evaluating me, trying to decide if there was a place for us in the *community.*

Sorry, but we're not looking to be embraced by a particular group. We try not to limit ourselves with labels.

I wondered if I would have to avoid the park to avoid a possible invitation to socialize . . . then realized I was being ridiculous.

She was probably just curious.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Is it strange that the day after I started back on the Pill, two more moms from swimming class announced their pregnancies? How about that their babies are younger than Will?

It must be nice to be that sure. But I'm still adjusting to being the mother of this one, and content with that process.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A question of weaning

Will is almost 15 months old, and I am still breastfeeding. (Clearly, the term "mommy-blogger" is going to apply to me.)

When I was pregnant with Will, I decided that if at all possible, I would breastfeed. I also told my husband that I would try to stay with it for 6 months. Um, yeah.

My introduction to nursing was fairly typical, I believe. And by that I mean *excruciatingly painful* with each initial latch, gradually tapering off to a dull ache until she finished, leaving me with extreme tenderness (and trepidation) until the next feed. (Which I could not believe was to be three hours after the *beginning* of the previous feed!) Since I had been told the party line that nursing *properly* should not hurt, the first few days of my daughter's life were filled with repeated visits to the lactation consultant. She boosted my confidence (and was helpful without being judgmental when we had to supplement with formula) and soon I felt like I sort of knew what I was doing. I still had to curl my toes from the pain of Will's latch for the next couple of weeks, but eventually it got easier, and then easy.

Will's first birthday came and went, next week she will be 15 months old, and we are in the middle of trying to wean. There is a deadline looming: my husband and I are going to Vancouver for a wedding and leaving our daughter with my parents for six days.

I know this is an important step, and my parents are about the only people I believe can handle Will if she refuses to sleep for more than an hour at a time (they did raise 6 of their own kids, after all). And no matter what happens at Gramma's house, I know I will finally be getting the S.L.E.E.P. that has been elusive for so many months.

So even though I would probably have continued for a couple more months, I know this is the best time for the transition. Will is mainly nursing for comfort now, but that is making the process much harder than I imagined. When she really wants some milk she throws her head onto my chest, and although I can distract her (with watermelon or carrots!) she is just so happy when she gets to burrow into my chest, laughing.

I know that I will find other ways to comfort her. I know that I am already a source of delight for her in many other ways. Still, it is a connection I am finding difficult to let go. And when she asks, I find myself thinking, there is still a little bit of time, it's okay for today, and I say yes.

Late to the party

I'm clearly not one of the cool kids.

I am not that girl who comes back from India complaining about how there were too many tourists there. I am not the girl who rolls her eyes at the popular band's new hit single because they were "so much better" before they sold out.

The world has already discovered blogging. I'm not about to do anything groundbreaking. The media will not be flocking to my site for its new perspective on motherhood or new approach to storytelling. I do not know anything about "coding" or web design.

I do love to write, yet I haven't been writing. I want a place to share some of my stories again. I believe this is the place for me to begin.