Monday, June 6th, 2011
Tonight, I laid my child in her crib, and she immediately rolled over and went to sleep. No screaming, no repeatedly standing up, no thrashing about like one possessed. She didn’t even need to hold my hand.
I was stunned at first – literally, mouth-hanging-open stunned – but taken in the context of the past two weeks, it isn’t so surprising. My baby girl is a year old now, a toddler, a big girl. It’s been a year of whirlwind change, spinning faster than I ever thought it could, but lately it seems even more accelerated. Every day she does some funny new thing (or not so funny when Mama is tired).
So, so quickly she went from toddling a few wobbly steps between us to careening around the house, stepping blithely over thresholds, toys and pets. Where she used to hang onto your fingers so tight they turned white, now she lets go and takes off in her own direction – usually toward the stairs or the dog food bowl.
Today I trailed behind her around the house for a long time, soaking in all the adorable things she’s doing now, knowing how fleeting they are. Like when she tried to get to a standing position while holding a jar of baby food in each hand, concluded it wouldn’t work, then looked from one to the other of them, made a decision which would go, and flung it away. She doesn’t set anything down anymore; everything is chucked down like it’s hot to the touch. That won’t last.
Nor will the way she opened a kitchen cabinet today for the first time, leaned over to look inside, shut it back, and moved on to the next cabinet. Or the way she talks to herself while she’s playing. She has abandoned most of the words she rapidly acquired, replacing them instead with constant cheerful chatter in a babbling language all her own. The only words she’s retained are “mama” (which she also uses to mean “paci”), “dada” and her favorite, “book.”
When she shows me her wicked little grin, I see her five front teeth (she has two more molars in the back), and I both fear and delight in how the new ones will change her smile. Already, she asserts her independence with the toothbrush, yanking it from my hand and “brushing” her teeth herself (and mine, because “teeth” are her favorite body part to point to).
I knew this child would be independent, but I didn’t realize it would be so soon. My girl, who for months wouldn’t let me put her down to do so much as a load of laundry, now tries to buck and slide her way down to the floor to walk at every opportunity. Once the car seat is unbuckled, she wants to wiggle free and climb into your arms herself. She still eats baby food in a pinch but vastly prefers things she can stuff in her mouth herself – mandarin oranges, green beans, carrots, grapes, strawberries, chicken, pasta, broccoli, and string cheese, oh how she loves the string cheese.
(She also now likes to offer people her food, or her paci, or the strip from the top of the yogurt melts bag that she’s been waving around, and she thinks it’s hilarious when I make a growly “yum yum yum” noise and pretend to eat the soggy, half-chewed cracker in her hand.)
After these past two weeks, I know age is not just a number. I’d thought the clock would roll over from 11 months to ONE YEAR OLD without much ado, but I was wrong. The girl walking all over the place at her own birthday party, not a bit afraid to be one tiny person among the legs of 40 big people, that girl was no infant anymore.
And tonight, she fell asleep without holding Mama’s hand.