It is one of my favorite times of the day. I am sitting at my computer, trying to squeeze in a little writing before BabyC wakes up. I like the writing part, but I especially like listening to BabyC wake up over the baby monitor. She often hangs out in her crib for a while in the mornings, talking and singing, before she starts calling to me. She seems to use this time to practice new words and sounds.
This morning, the topic of her monologue is “pip.” Pips, known as “pits” to the older crowd, are the small, round, hard objects found in the center of plums, peaches and cherries. These fruits are in season now, and we have eaten a lot of them. BabyC enjoys the challenge of finding the hard “pip” with her teeth and then spitting it out.
“Pip. Pip. Huh? Pip? Yeah. Pip!” That’s how the monologue went this morning.
A more common monologue is this one:
“Bubba. Bubba? Bubba. Aiyash? Aiyash. Aiyash. Dadda? Dadda! Mommy. Mommy. Mommy. Dadda. Bubba. Aiyash. Mommy? Mooooommy… Mommy! Mommy!”
BabyC runs through every member of our family. “Bubba” is her name for our dog, Yuba. She calls the cat “Aiyash,” though her name is Shasta, and I’m not sure how she switched the syllables around like that.
We have this conversation at almost every transition in our day. When BabyC gets up, she wants me to tell her where every member of the family is.
“Daddy is sleeping in bed. He worked late last night. We’ll see him when he wakes up.”
“Shasta is snuggled with Daddy in bed, sleeping too.”
“Yuba’s right here, waiting for us to take him outside to pee!” Yuba is in fact dancing around the room and sneaking in licks to BabyC’s face when he gets a chance.
We have this conversation when we sit down for breakfast, when we go for a walk, when we get in the car to run an errand or go to the library, when we prepare for naptime, when she wakes up from her nap, and again at bedtime. Sometimes we have to run through the list several times before she is satisfied. BabyC is keeping tabs on everyone.
When we went on a trip to Vermont last month, BabyC asked about Bubba and Aiyash constantly, at least 10 times per day, again at transition times. We would usually try to guess what Yuba and Shasta were doing at home.
“Shasta is at home. Maybe she is out for a walk around the neighborhood.”
“Yuba is at home. He is probably taking a nap right now.”
“Yeah,” she would say, nodding in agreement. She missed our family pets while we were away.
I love these conversations with BabyC. They are sweet. It is clear that she knows who her family members are, and she knows that though each of us is loved and valued by her, we are separate from her.
It seems to me that this represents a major milestone in my child’s life. It isn’t just about her anymore. In her recognition of each of her family members as individuals, she is also recognizing that we might have needs and goals that are separate from hers at this moment. Daddy is tired – he needs to sleep. (To this, BabyC has also learned to say emphatically, “SHHH!”) Yuba is excited – he wants to go outside. Mama is going out for a run, but she’ll be back soon. As long as we take the time to explain these comings and goings to her, she seems to accept them. Her sense of security of her place in our family – her world – depends on this.
Speaking of family, we’ve had extended family visiting us these last few weeks. My father-in-law is visiting this week, and my mom was here last week. Neither has seen BabyC since she was about a year old, and she has changed so much in the last 9 months. At a year, she didn’t really want to be held or hugged by anyone unfamiliar, and she was slow to warm up to play with them. These days, at 20 months, she’s excited to show her grandparents her toys, read books together, and learn their games and songs. They have joined our bedtime story and song routine, and BabyC wants a moment to say goodnight to each person before she goes to bed. I can see that BabyC’s concept of family is growing. I love it, and I know they do, too.
Meanwhile, my time to work on the blog has been minimal this summer. Visitors have been coming and going. Berries have needed to be picked, frozen, and jammed for the winter. Sunshine must be soaked. Water must be splashed. We have been lingering over outside dinners and then coming in to watch Olympics coverage. Also, I have been training for a marathon, and I’m finding that not only does it take up a lot of time to log the necessary miles, but I also need more rest. That is, six hours of sleep is not really enough for me right now. When my alarm goes off early for my writing time, I sometimes just can’t budge from bed. And finally, I’m going back to part-time teaching this fall, and I need time to plan for those courses. This is a long way of saying that I’ll be posting a bit more sporadically for the time being. I know that you all are busy with summer fun, too, so I hope you won’t mind.
Happy Summer to you all!