Sunday, August 10, 2008


Zoe understands much of what I say. She’ll identify objects I point out. If I ask her to pick up a specific toy and hand it to me, she will pick it up; than drop it inches from my hand. If I ask her to put the toy in the toy box, she will, or at least attempt to (unless she gets distracted on her way). If I ask her to give daddy the breakable or dangerous item she knows to run in the opposite direction, screaming like I’m taking away her favorite toy. And if I ask her to give daddy the keys she will drop them in a hard to reach spot then run in the opposite direction, laughing. These actions indicate that she understands what I want of her, even if her response is not exactly what I was hoping for. So why, if I ask her where something is—“Zoe, where are your shoes?”—she will stare at me with a blank look. “Zoe, shoes? Do you know where you put your shoes? Shoes, Zoe?” Nothing. Just a blank look. Why can’t she at least glance over to where she was playing with them, or at least scan the room to as if she cared where they are? Personally I think she is taunting me. I fear that this is just the beginning of what may be years of rebellious behavior.

Every night Alison and I plot a treacherous course through the turbulent seas of Zoe’s bedtime routine. Eight o’clock is her bedtime, but there are nuances to timing it right; too early and she’ll bounce on the bed and even voluntarily hand you her pacifier—reserved only for sleep time—in a defiant, “I’m not going to bed,” move; too late and she can’t get her overtired body to shut down. Either way she usually fidgets so much that one wishes that Dr. Spock had okayed the use of chloroform as a sleep aid. First, though, is teeth brushing, which is sometimes not unpleasant. Zoe has a low tolerance for this necessary task and at times she makes brushing the cat’s teeth seem easy. We then move on to some warm milk. She will recline against one of us and give us the false impression that she is going to simply doze off as she drinks. Not so. Next we read her three or four books, chosen from a stack of a dozen or so, all of which have been read many mind-numbing dozens of times. Then come the wiggles and the face touching (past the point of endearing and into the territory of wanting to break her little fingers). At some point she is transferred into her own bed and Alison and I spend the rest of the evening trying not to step on the creaky part of the floor.

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