Friday, July 24, 2009

Placating the Baby Without Touching

            Wow. A whole week has passed and I haven’t written a thing. Work has had me running. Meetings and proposals. Driving to help with installations, and across the border to meet with legal and accounting folks. Go, go, go. It’s hard to take a moment and write in the middle of it all. Not to mention helping my buddy by taking photographs for a fundraising event, DJ’ing for a friend’s birthday, helping paint the church, compiling the year’s expenses for my corporate tax return, plus the usual hanging out with friends, exercise, soccer, and Bible study every Monday.
            No down time whatsoever.
            Gosh, when I write it all down, it seems like my life must be hectic! But it doesn’t feel too bad. I still seem to have lots of time with my little munchkin.
            She’s so clingy right now, it’s quite amazing. Let’s see, she’s almost ten months old now. The books all warned us that at nine months she’d have more trouble leaving her mother’s side. I guess that’s what we’re experiencing. She’ll play totally happily on her own, as long as one of us is in the room. Leave the room, and she’ll either start to cry or frantically dart across the room on all fours to be wherever we are.
            She also likes to cuddle more these days. She’s generally a pretty squirmy person, so it’s quite a change to be able to hold her calmly for long stretches of time. Usually any holding sessions were a full squirm-a-thon, with Celia taking first place for the most squirms of any child on the block. Now, she might squirm a bit, but when she flips the switch into “Needy Mode” she just holds on.
            The most difficult moment I had with the baby this week happened after I took her on a long run in the hot sun. She was happy for the whole jog, and does this thing where she grabs the bar in front and lifts herself as high as the straps will allow so that she can see everything happening. Whenever she sees a dog she gives a little squeal of happiness. I think if she could talk she’d be saying, “Daddy! Look! A dog! Just like the ones you read to me every night.” I read her this book called Doggies or something like that, with all sorts of barking and howling. Whenever I pull out the book, she just goes nuts. In fact, when I was playing soccer a couple days ago, and Michelle and Celia were on a blanket next to the field, a big old dog came right up to Celia and gave her a humongous slobbery kiss, and she just absolutely loved it. Maybe we need to think of getting a dog…
            Anyway, back to the story, by the end of the run I was completely drenched with sweat. I lugged the pink stroller up the stairs and got myself a nice, tall glass of water, unstrapped her and let her roam around. But no sooner had she gotten onto the floor that she wanted me to pick her up. She crawled over to my sweaty legs and leveraged herself up them. Standing, she looked up at me as if to say, “Pick me up, Daddy!”
            “Not now sweetie,” I said, “I’m all sweaty.”
            I moved away so she’d go back to the floor, and dashed back to the kitchen to get another glass of water. By the time I’d come back, she was starting to get frantic, and in her attempt to get near me she wonked her head on the floor and started crying.
            “Daddy! Pick me up! I need comforting!” she seemed to wail. The tears kept coming, and the wails began to escalate.
            “You’re okay sweetie,” I said, without touching her. It was the hardest thing ever, trying to comfort her without touching her. Every last inch of my body was covered in sweat, and I didn’t want her to get all slimy or stinky.
            I tried dancing for her. I tried distracting her with toys. Finally, what worked in the end was singing. “It’s alright, my Sweet Delight. You’re okay, my Dear Bay-bay. Calm yourself down, my Little Clown.”
            By the third verse, she kept her bottom lip puckered out, but stopped wailing. Success!
            When I think about it, I’d have to say that she’s graduated to having less tangible needs than before. A couple months ago it seemed like all she really needed was food, diaper changes, sleep, and love. That’s it. Do those things right, and she’d be happy. But now she’s starting to become more complex. More of a psychologically faceted individual. She has needs beyond a clean diaper, and if we don’t attend to them, well, she’s going to wail.
            Add to that the fact that she now makes it her goal to tear apart the house by the end of each day, and Michelle and I definitely have our hands full. No time to even wash dishes with her around, because she’ll want more attention than that. Nope, the house can become a disaster within the first twenty minutes of the day, and it seems almost impossible to do anything about it till she’s asleep. It’s a good thing we’re such boring people with no outside activities, or we’d never be able to keep the place clean! ;)

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