A Creature with a Will

This is her cousin-watching face, which she wore basically the entire time we were in California. She took it all in. 

So we're home. We were in California for six days, and now we're home and reeling from the slap of real life--laundry and grocery shopping and doctor's visits and insane sleep trouble and jet lag and dinner. I'm supposed to make dinner. Can you believe that? It's nutty. And I think Henrietta is missing her cousins. Her cousins (ranging in age from 3 to 15) were fascinating. My baby is a social creature, it turns out, and she watched them as intently as you see above, as if what she learned from them would shortly save her life. Watching her cousin B jump on the trampoline was, as it turns out, totally hysterical. And her parents, on the other hand, are just not that interesting. The poor, bored dear.

While away, she amassed a number of firsts: she played the drums, played in a pool, stuck her toes in the freezing Pacific Ocean, tried an apple, ate a few baby crackers, went for walks galore in the mountains and on the beach boardwalk, watched kid TV, and pet a small dog (don't tell Sam that last part ...). There was this marvelous day, last Sunday, when I attended church with my family, and then we all made ridiculously good fish tacos together. (Don't worry, I ate fish tacos three times in the first three days I was there.) We ate them outside (!), on my sister's pretty patio, and the baby laughed at her cousins' antics. Though she laughed, Henrietta wasn't feeling well, so she took a very long nap in my arms, and I sat quietly, giving myself entirely to her for a good long sleep while the rest of the grown-ups took a long walk. Then we all made healthy(ish) desserts and my nieces dyed Easter eggs, and we watched a movie together. It was one of those perfect days, you know? I lay in bed that night, thinking back over it, and I just wanted to do it again.

Maybe all of that cousin-watching is to blame, but she came home an entirely different baby. And I know I keep talking about how fast she's changing, but she really is changing so fast. She now has two tiny bottom teeth. Teeth! And the teeth seem to have coincided with a new surge of willfulness. She has opinions she's more sure of, and she's more adamant about them. I find myself, to my astonishment, beginning to tell her no. I don't know why this is so astonishing. I suppose because, for the first 5+ months of her life, I didn't have occasion to say no to her. I mean, I said no, but it was in that sweet sort of way you tell a newborn no. No no, darling, no no. And now I'm beginning to say no and mean it. I mean, I really mean it when I tell her, "No! Don't roll over and eat the basket while I'm trying to change your diaper!" "No! You may not dive head first off of the couch!" "No! Let go of the kitty's neck!" I know all of this is mostly worthless to tell her at this point. And I know this is just the beginning. We will bang our wills together for the rest of my life, I'm sure. But it's odd to watch it beginning, to just begin to see and feel her wanting things very badly, and to not be inclined to allow it, either for her safety, or because it happens to be my bowl of brown rice and peppers and chicken.

It's all at once lovely and disturbing to watch these changes. I miss my six-week-old, and I can't wait for her to toddle around behind me. And of course, all I can really do is try to drink in moments, like this one: trying to hold her off from bedtime this evening (so she' d get good and sleepy), I sat on the couch with her, looking right in her eyes and singing her "I Am a Child of God." I don't think she's ever been so attentive while I was singing, and she watched me so so carefully, watched my lips and my eyes and smiled at me very slightly and sweetly, as if she knew that song from somewhere, as if she remembered it from when I've sung it before. I could hardly get through singing it, I was so moved.

All told, it's good to be home.


eden said…
i must say, i wish my cousin-watching face was half as adorable.

but maybe it's not my fault. i mean... if my *cousins* were half as adorable, then maybe my face would be.

anyway - what i'm really trying to say is she is a beautiful baby. you done good dej!
Douglas said…
On saying "no," have you read this?


I aspire to be a "French" parent. Sarah was born to it.
heather said…
I had no idea how powerful singing I Am a Child of God to my babies would be.
Terry said…
Well, what fun we had, playing the drums and "dipping" our feet in the Pacific together. I would not have traded that time for anything. Thanks for sharing our little treasure.
Deja said…
Thanks, Eden! I think she's pretty adorable, too.

Doug, I have read it, and the book the same author wrote about it, but it was while I was still pregnant and things were starry and theoretical. I could stand to remind myself. I can absolutely see that Sarah would come by it naturally.

Heather, is it because we're telling ourselves as much as our babies?

Dad, it was one of the loveliest weeks of my life. Glad you guys were there.
belann said…
What a lovely time we had. Makes me really sad to think we won't see her for awhile. She is such a charmer.
Meeshab said…
"Our wills will bang together for the rest of our lives" or something like that. My favorite line. And you know
I have to say it! Wait till number 2! Or 4! Day one!
Also I think when you grow up your will somewhat aligns with your parents. If they're good ones! We got good ones!

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