Sunday, June 29, 2008

Am I Too Old for This?

What’s for breakfast? Jelly and cheese. Dad toasts a slice of bread, covers it with jam and cuts it into three-quarter inch squares. He slices some cheese into strips and puts a full-frontal bib on child. To eat, child presses a square of jam-covered toast into mouth and after a few moments of moving about in said mouth removes toast, sans jam. Child places soggy square on table beside plate or hands to dad. If dad does not respond fast enough child drops soggy square on floor while staring dad in the eye; follows with cute ‘no’ shake of head. Child periodically grabs three of four strips of cheese and crams them into her mouth with ball of hand. At end of meal child rubs jam-covered hands over tabletop and hair and presses thumb into and through remaining pieces of food on plate. Child then sweeps food off plate and onto floor and laughs hysterically. Child twists and screams when dad wipes child’s face and hands. Once removed from strapped-in position on chair, child eats pieces of food off floor before dad has a chance to pick up all said pieces. Child climbs on dads back while dad wipes jelly off floor. Dad grimaces when he remembers that there are still two meals and countless snacks remaining in day.

A mom at the park recently gave me a CD of children’s songs by Elizabeth Mitchell. The music is pleasant to listen to, not the usual saccharin, insipidly worded music of most children’s collections (think Raffi). But even better than the quality of the music, it seems to relax Zoe. Every time I put it on she will sit in a corner of her mat playing quietly with the half dozen toys closest to her. She will go back and forth from one to another, completely focused. When she gets into one of these zones she behaves as if it’s the first time she’s ever seen each toy. She'll turn the knobs, lift the balls, remove the parts, and laugh to herself. Lately I’ve been pleased to see her experiment with her toys, mixing them up and stacking one toy on another because they have similar characteristics. Ultimately this means she is thinking more about how things work. She is also becoming more dexterous, her balance is improving, and she is climbing and puling herself up onto everything. She especially likes to perform feats that will ultimately result in a bonk on the head, such as standing on her rocking chair, jumping on the couch, or balancing on any item that she can climb on, big or small. I like to see her climbing about like this but it is exhausting, both because I’m required to participate and because it’s nerve-racking to see her teetering on the edge of the couch. Which is why when I put on some pleasant music it’s so nice to have her just sit quietly for a few minutes.

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