Tuesday, February 15, 2005

11 months

Tonight Geoff asked, "When did we stop being spring chickens?" And I answered, "11 months plus 9 months ago." He did the math -- "So, twenty months ago?"

"Yes," I said. "In four months, we can celebrate the two-year anniversary of the demise of our spring-chickenhood."

You can tell we have an eleven-month old baby because on Sunday when we got home from swimming, we decided not to get out of the car right away because Jacqui was napping. We sat in the car, engine running, for about a half-hour ... and no lewd or lascivious acts took place. We napped.

She always has such a wonderful time in the water. This time there was no hesitation at all -- she wanted to go in a specific direction, so she WENT. She jumped up and down in the water; she held her legs up behind her when we swam her around; she played with adults and other children alike. We're going to try to start going twice a week instead of just on Sundays.

Yesterday in the mail we received a box from my younger sister. It held a plastic cat that giggles and vibrates when you press a button, and a set of Peek-a-Blocks. Jacqui was entertained by the cat and completely enthralled by the blocks. Thank you Mandy!

She had almost as much fun getting the new toys out of their boxes as she had playing with the toys themselves. She loves a puzzle. Earlier, before the arrival of the box, I had given her the wicker basket full of her toys. Instead of pulling toys out of the basket, she started pulling the basket apart. Geoff asked me why I hadn't told him we were having a Maguyver baby; he warned me never to give her bubblegum, because she surely will blow something up. I figure she's safe with gum as long as we keep her away from duct tape.

At eleven months, she seems both huge and tiny at the same time. She's still so little -- she opens her mouth as wide as possible to put food in it. But she's so big! Sometimes she looks at me with an expression that is much older than she has any right to.

She's still my baby. She cries when she's tired; she doesn't realize she's got teeth yet, so she BITES occasionally; she's becoming independent, but then she realizes it and clings tenaciously to me or Geoff for hours. She's becoming who she will be, and we get to watch it happen.

More than that -- we get to help SHAPE it. When we got Jake, a lot of our friends told us that raising a puppy would be great practice for raising a baby. That's sort of true. You at least get to learn patience -- a dog can only do what a dog can do. Which means that if you don't give the dog something it's SAFE to chew on and destroy, he'll chew on and destroy something you'd wish he hadn't. And then who will you blame? The dog, for being a dog? That doesn't make much sense -- you CHOSE to have the dog.

A baby needs tangible love and reassurance for a lot longer than a puppy does. You get to hold her and love her when she's screaming in your face. When you can't take another second of it and want nothing more than to just put her down and WALK AWAY because nothing you are doing seems to make her happy, that's the time to remember she's only a baby, and she can only do what a baby can do. And all I can do is hold her and tell her how much I love her, until she's peaceful in my arms -- or until she finally gets distracted by a light-switch, a lamp-shade, or a door-knob.

And this is what Jacqui teaches. For all the giggling, squealing, squeaking, babbling joy she brings, she also sometimes feels lonely or afraid or angry. She's a package deal, just like we all are.

And I wouldn't trade her for anything.