Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Manic Digression

One of the joys of this age is that Zephyr is displaying a wider range of emotions. Instead of being joyful all the time (which I love, don't get me wrong), he's actually starting to reveal a moodier side typical of toddlers. So now, when we're playing and having a grand old time, he's prone to going from manic grins and peals of delight...

...to disgruntled sneers and indignant whining, in mere seconds. The unhappy times are usually directly related to the focus of my attention. Specifically, when my attention is on something other than Zephyr, he's mad. He wants to be held all the time, and is nursing a lot more than he did months ago. He has recently discovered that if he shoots me a soft look and delicately strums at the collar of whatever shirt I'm wearing (while uttering "neh, neh?"), that I will nurse him. Now that he knows how to ask for it, he does. Frequently.

Lately he's really into reading, which is an early relief from my fears that he will have inherited one of his uncles' demeanor instead of that of his bookish parents. It's still early, I suppose, but Scott and I have been nurturing this love of books at every turn. He loves books so much, in fact, that he will grab our fingers to point to each word and picture on a page, and now even grabs his own feet to use as pointers on the pages, which looks like he's trying to breakdance on his books. When he thinks no one is watching, he will use his own fingers and mumble to himself the words of the story.

He also really loves balls these day. "Buh! Buh!" he'll insist, and then we play a rousing game of Roll-and-Catch, or if I need a break, Fetch. He loves his big green ball so much that he will lay down with it and give it a little hug (Scott thinks he's just pressing his ear to the ball to enjoy the warped sound, but he does this to his soft toys too, and I can't imagine they distort sound much. I also choose to think Zephyr is engaging in this activity for the cuter of the two possible reasons.)

Lately I've been feeling really disconnected from my own family. Most of it is my own doing - I haven't talked to my father since last summer. I'm pissed that he forgot to call on Zephyr's birthday, and prior to that, he'd only called me to ask to borrow money (this was the same day as Zephyr's surgery last summer, and he never even called to follow up on Zephyr's progress). My brother and dad, as far as I can tell, think that my dysfunctional childhood is a figment of my own exaggeration, and that I should "get over it." For the better part of my adulthood, I thought I had buried most of it, and I have been pretty stalwart and callous about it all, but motherhood is dragging up a lot of heavy shit that I thought I dealt with a long time ago.

I'm furious that my father hurt me, my brother and my mother, and that he continues to gloss over all of it as excusable because he was drinking at the time. Yes, I'm still pissed about that. I'm furious that my brother idolizes a man that was so disrespectful and irresponsible to his children and partner, and I'm furious that my father allowed my only brother to walk down the same tragic, mistake-fraught path by preventing him from experiencing any of the consequences of his own fucked-up decisions. I have missed out on a brother that could have been a great man, and I am really pissed about that. I'm tired of being treated as a self-righteous martyr because I chose not to become a statistic and instead fight to be the opposite of these people.

I will do anything to make sure that Zephyr has everything I didn't have, not the least of which is stability, predictability, and freedom from violence. The other shit - opportunities to develop his talents, to have friends stay the night for pizza and too many video games, to be in sports or plays or band or whatever the hell tickles his fancy - I will make sure he has that, too, frivolous or not. If it means I need to check out of the family for awhile (or forever), so be it.

Choosing to have children is the greatest act of egomania in which person can indulge. Having a child says, "I am so important and special that more of my DNA should be in the world." To have children without at least the intention of doing a better job than our parents is smug and lazy. To be a survivor of horrible shit and to then say, "it was good enough for me, it's good enough for mine" is utter sociopathy.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Lucky 13

Zephyr is 13 months old, and as you can see, still has only 3.5 teeth (the second top incisor is still only halfway down). He still crawls and cruises more than he stands unassisted. In a characteristic fit of motherly concern for the truancy of his milestones, I finally peeked into my and Scott's baby books to find out who's genes were to blame, and I am happy to say that it's Scott's fault. He didn't start walking until 14 or 15 months. I started walking at 10 months. So I guess I should say "oh Jesus Christ, thank goodness that Zephyr takes after Scott and not me."

I recently read that infants who spend more time in the crawling phase statistically test higher in preschool than those who walk early, as reported in this article. It turns out that late walkers tend to be smarter. I wonder how much of this is related to later walkers' tendency toward caution and easy demeanor; Zephyr is just more content playing studiously with blocks or drumsticks than he is running around in fitful expression of gross motor skills.

I also recently read that babies who get their teeth late are more likely to require orthodontics later in life (according to a study reported in Science Daily). Scott had braces as a kid and still requires quarterly maintenance on his self-described "fucked-up grill." I, conversely, have naturally straight teeth, which is a good thing because my parents never would've coughed up the dough for orthodontia, had I needed it. I had five teeth by 11 months, Scott didn't get his first tooth until he was 8 months old. So this one is his genes, too. I still that hope Zephyr misses out on the allergies and asthma, but if it didn't stop Scott from having good times as a kid, I can't see why it should stop Zephyr.

Here he is catching a cat hair in a sunbeam, the little genius. Note the perfect action sequence of his dropping the purple ring to grab the bit of sundander.

Another trait of Zephyr's that is typically linked with smarts is long sleeping. Last week, we made a one-night attempt to let him cry it out (going in to pat him on the back instead of nursing), but it was a complete failure. I ended up caving like usual, nursed him for comfort and returned him to his crib and he slept fine the rest of the night. The following night, he woke twice but soothed himself back to sleep. The two nights following that, he didn't wake up at all. I got all excited that maybe he figured out that we're getting serious, but the past couple of nights he's been back to waking up once or twice to nurse. I am still trying to figure out if it's just that he's teething or has the sniffles, and whether or not we should bite the bullet and go full-on Ferber with him, or if it'll just pass as soon as he's back to 100%.

It's official: Zephyr's first sentence is "more food." That's my boy! He knows all of the words that pertain to food. If you ask him, "Zephyr! Are you hungry?" he says "fffffuh." "Zephyr! Do you want breakfast?" "Ffffuh." Lunch, dinner, snack: "fffuh!" After he's finished a bowl or plate of whatever he's eating, we ask him if he wants more and show him the sign language. He can now say "muh! fffffuh!" while clapping his fingers together. Yes, there is a chance he is actually saying "motherfucker," but in this context I am choosing to think he means "more food." I usually do give him more, except yesterday he ate almost all of two full adult-sized side dishes of beans and tofu and kept opening his mouth for more, before I decided that I didn't want him getting a tummyache and put the breaks on it. He got mad and whined about it.

Speaking of food, he's got a few food milestones that I'm proud of this week. A few weeks ago I put a sturdy box (about 6" tall) on the floor and taped a place mat to it so I have a place to give him a snack without having to get him all suited up at his high chair. Things like berries or cubed cheese are an easy thing to feed him, and he loves them, so he's unlikely to dump them or make a mess. He's gotten so tall, though, that he sort of hunches over the "table" and looks like he wants to sit down, but there's no place for his legs. So I seated him on top of the box and pushed one of those small Ikea bent wood end tables in front of him - it fit perfectly, and he just sat there all matter-of-fact like, "yup. this is mah snack table and I have snacks here." And he just ate his little fruits and drank his little cup of milk with a straw instead of the usual throwing-the-sippy-cup debacle. And now that he's suddenly interested in drinking cow's milk, I can quit sweating the constant nursing and pushing cheese on him, because I know he'll get his RDA of calcium. Now nursing can be for comfort and snuggling, and he'll get his antibodies from me.

Today he fed himself completely and neatly using his spoon. This might sound like a non-event, but until now I've had to either give him finger foods or put food on his spoon and hand it to him, then pick his spoon up off the floor after every bite. Today, he spooned his chicken and stars right into his little mouth like it wasn't even a Thing. But it was a Thing! I think what may have tipped the scales for him is that I let him use a "real" spoon instead of giving him his usual baby spoon. And I sat there with him, eating the same food as he was having.

We just chatted like old friends, eating our soup and crackers, and then we cleaned up and had some story time in the living room.