Tuesday, August 28, 2007

the MANY faces of H

Here's another little ditty about my wonderful almost 16-month-old. I think she's crazy.

Okay, okay, maybe that's a bit drastic. I think she's just become a full-fledged toddler in the last two weeks. When she was born, she was almost immediately serene. She nursed like a champ within the first hour or two after she made her way into the world, and she slept on me like a peaceful little angel. The following weeks and months were frighteningly easy. Yeah, she cried for a while every evening, but it was so predictable, and as soon as I nursed her to sleep, she was fine. Girl was 'sleeping through the night' by 2 months old. (Safe to say that 6 hour stretches can qualify as that, right?) What an amazing contrast to our first parental experiences with baby-from-Hades, aka J. He's a fantastic kid, don't get me wrong, even with his multiple 'issues.' But there is no denying that he was one difficult infant. Crying doesn't even describe what he did for hours on end day after day after day after day after day. (Get the picture?) So, believe me, when H joined the family, I was thanking every deity under the sun for my good fortune. Seems that my luck has run out.

A typical day with H now has the entertainment factor of never knowing which baby personality is going to come out moment to moment. I kid you not- this girl can go from happy, laughing-out-loud with a huge smile on her face baby straight to furrowed brow, NO-screaming, toy-hurling, fat-pinching baby in a split second. ('Fat-pinching' refers to her innate ability to locate a roll of fat on my body and within her reach in the blink of an eye- she's quick and she has freakishly strong little fingers.) The typical things set her off. You know, when 'Mean Mommy' tells her she can't put a pencil in her ear. Or MM taking the vacuum cord away from her as she snakes it around her neck. (Honestly- two actual events just from today.)

So yeah, I get that, she expresses her frustration when she can't have something she wants. But, then there are other situations when I can't even begin to see her point of view. Take this one. We're going downstairs after her nap to go get lunch. I've told her, "Okay, baby, time for lunch. Are you hungry?" She responds with her cave-baby grunt and something that is sounding more and more like, "Yeah!" She's carrying a random stuffed animal from her bedroom. She walks with me to the top of the stairs and realizes that she can't crawl backwards down the stairs while holding this. (I say she realizes this because she tries to do it, and motions that the puppy is in her darn way.) So, I offer to help. Here's a pretty accurate synopsis of our actual interaction:

Me: "Do you want Mommy to carry you?"
H (who until a moment ago was laughing and smiling, suddenly turns monstrously angry): "NOOO!"
Me: "Mommy will help. Can I carry puppy downstairs?"
H (tears welling up in eyes, wild look across her face): "NOOO!" (She stomps away in the opposite direction back towards her room)
Me: "Are you hungry? Do you want to go downstairs?"
H (storm suddenly passes, smile crosses her face): "Yeah!"
Me: "Okay, let Mommy help you. I'll carry you downstairs."
H (storm changes directions, comes back full force): "NOOOOOO!" (flings self on floor, literally kicks feet in stereotypical tantrum)
Me (on verge of mental breakdown): "Oh for the love... come here sweetie."
H (looks up with pitiful look on face, stands up and starts to approach top of stairs again, stops just out of my reach): **silence**
Me (lunging forward as much as possible for an extremely large pregnant woman perched at the top of the stairs, grab dear child in arms and carry her and the forsaken puppy down the stairs): "See, we're going downstairs. Okay? Now let's get some lunch."
H (sunnily smiling as if the last excrutiatingly long 5 minutes never happened): "Yeah!"

Wow, wasn't that painful to read? Now imagine experiencing it, especially with swollen feet and a sore back and aching boobs, all while standing at the top of a stairwell. Ugh. I guess I could get all child-development-talky and explain what was going through her head in the moment. How she was torn between her desires and was frustratingly unable to express it verbally, (especially since her spoken vocabulary apparently exists solely of the word 'yeah'). I could do that, but it just wouldn't be as interesting, now would it?

Tomorrow brings another day in the life of this moody little toddler. Sure, she sleeps soundly now, but it's only a few hours until I get to hang out with her multiple personalities again. I'll look at it this way- at least she's keeping me on my toes.