For a couple of weeks now, one of Morgan’s favorite things to do when she isn’t tired or hungry has been to stand (with mommy or daddy supporting her, obviously) in our laps. Her eyes get wide, her mouth gapes in a massive smile, and she usually starts laughing or babbling. Despite not having much balance yet, she actually does a good job of supporting her weight on her own legs, too, which surprised me at first. I guess I didn’t expect a 2-month old to have the strength OR the balance.
Recently, Morgan has progressed from just being held up by us, to trying to pull herself up either to fully standing or to sitting up by holding on to our hands, which she does phenomenally well, with the adorable end-position of having one of our fingers, her hand, or both stuck in her wide-open mouth (wide open because she smiles hugely while pulling herself up).
She likes playing with mommy while sitting in her Bumbo seat, and it is no exception to the pull-up rule. She can hold herself up pretty well with no help, but if we let her grab our hands, she pulls up to them and gapes open her mouth.
She isn’t crawling yet, but with her arms and legs doing such a good job supporting her weight, I’m sure it’s only a matter of time! As the title says, it feels like we’re living in Morgan’s training montage right now, watching her get a little bit better every time she tries something. It’s amazing, and it has me thinking I need to get a stair gate installed sooner rather than later!
In the past week or so, Morgan has started to babble, which excites Jen and me to no end. Saturday evening, I was singing to Morgan (like you do) when I started humming a random tune and pausing in between bars. At first she didn’t know what to make of it, although she thought it was rather funny, but eventually she figured out that I was giving her a chance to be a part of the song. Suddenly, almost every time I would pause in my humming, she would babble something back to me. We kept it up for a good 3 or 4 minutes and, young though she is, I think Morgan appreciated the thought that daddy wanted her to sing along.
Sunday morning, I woke up to the sound of Morgan babbling happily away and walked, bleary-eyed, into the living room to be told that Morgan had been carrying on a conversation with the Ninja Turtles on Jen’s water glass for the past ten minutes. By the time I woke up, she was mostly finished with her conversation, but I can only imagine the wisdom she felt Leo, Don, Raph, and Mikey needed to hear. It’s going to be a lot of fun to sit down with her and actually watch Ninja Turtles cartoons when she gets a little bit older.
We have found out, however, that Morgan is either camera shy or techno-curious, because all her babbling ceases within 5-10 seconds of noticing a camera. Given her daddy’s love of gadgetry, I’m going to go with techno-curious.
It is fresh and amazing every day to see her sense of joy and wonder at the experiences I take so much for granted. Something as simple as standing on my lap while I hold her up lights her face up unimaginably bright. Something as simple as not understanding the body mechanics involved in consistently rolling over gets her incredibly frustrated. So many things that are as mundane as peas on a plate to me are fascinating to her. In fact, I’m sure peas on a plate will be pretty fascinating the first time she gets to try them.
The sum of our experiences help make us who we are. It is almost obscene to imagine that something as simple as standing on daddy’s lap singing between the bars of a nameless tune has forever etched and shaped a small part of Morgan’s personality. The language of a child is the language of creation itself, chaotic and vital and beyond our comprehension. It truly is a thing of wonder.
While it’s not true every time, lately Morgan has been very fussy at naptime, as I jokingly observed in my last post. It makes me so curious as to what might be going through her mind, and it does feel as if she gets mad at the cruel injustice of being denied new observations by her tired mind.
When she first starts to get tired and is just a bit fussy, nothing makes her happier than being held facing outward (back to my chest, one of my arms “buckling” her torso, one supporting her legs and butt). If she isn’t so tired that she’s just about to drop (and, thus, fighting the Jabberwocky for dear life), she stops fussing as soon as she’s facing out. That simple act of opening her visual horizons up is enough to negate the perceived problem of impending sleep.
It’s an amazing thing to see a child so desperately hungry to see, to learn, to do, which makes it even sadder to see adults so desperately hungry to keep to a routine and avoid new things. As a parent, I want to preserve that germ of intellectual and experiential curiosity for the rest of Morgan’s life. I want to nurture it and grow it, even knowing full well that she may well seek out experiences that I do not wish for her. That hunger for knowledge is more important than my own plans and desires for her life. Yes, as much and as long as possible, I will always be there to pick her up when an experience turns sour, and there are certainly some experiences I will protect her from, but I do not want my actions to ever indicate to her that seeking knowledge is wrong.
It is a great crime of our time that so many who have such a vast wealth of knowledge at their fingertips use it to do and know so little.
I have decided that, if Morgan has a Jabberwocky, it is naptime. Not bedtime, mind you; just naptime. I was walking her around last night on my shoulder after feeding her and she fell asleep, so I slowly sat down and leaned back, only to have her start fussing. I moved her from my shoulder to my lap and found that her eyes were closed, and I, like a terrible parent, sat there and watched for a good minute or two as she fussed and gave small cries with her eyes closed before getting her back on my shoulder and walking her around again. I couldn’t help it – it was so absurdly funny that it bordered on ludicrous while still being absolutely endearingly sweet.
Walking around put her back to sleep in pretty short order, this time for a good couple of hours, but it just made me stop and wonder what it is about naptime that can put so many kids into a bit of a cranky mood, and that’s when the thought of the Jabberwocky struck me.
That extra need for sleep when the world is so new and fascinating must seem like the greatest inconvenience imaginable. Sure, they’re happier after a nap than they are if they don’t get one, but their minds aren’t entirely logical yet, so the correlation between nap and better moods isn’t a concrete one for them yet. Instead, this lurking monster of sleep comes creeping up on them when they least expect it, taking them out of the world for an hour or two. At the very least, that has to be annoying, but to have something so far out far out of your control when you already have so little control has to be a somewhat fearful thing.
Walking around bobbing up and down, rocking back and forth can help distract from that creeping sleepiness, which Jen and I are all too happy to do, but it seems like once Morgan is aware of the Jabberwocky’s presence, only sleep can make her forget it. At least this Jabberwocky is really good, because she always comes back happy as a clam!
Fresh off a trip to see the Jabberwocky
There is something absolutely magical about waking Morgan up. It may change as time goes on, but I have never seen a baby who is happier to be woken up. Her eyes come open and she immediately starts smiling, which is, if possible, even cuter if she somehow manages to keep her pacifier in all night, because her eyes light up in a smile while her gums grip the pacifier like Popeye’s pipe.
Sure, if it’s time to eat, those smiles can turn into frowns and fussiness pretty quickly, but even if she’s slept all night, she always has at least one smile for mommy and/or daddy when she first wakes up, as if she knows that we would never let her go hungry, so even if her tummy is rumbly, she wants us to know how much she loves us before she tells us that she’s hungry. There is nothing in the world like those smiles.
I never new just how much my heart could melt until I saw her smile at me. Nothing compares to the abject joy her face expresses. That’s all I’ve got for you today, just a little bit of sappiness.
MMORPG gamers (and lovers of Diablo-style games) are, I’m sure, familiar with sockettable items and the interesting little juggling match that comes with figuring out where a generic socket item is going to give the best benefit. Should you buff damage output or a specific damage type, or should you buff armor, specific avoidances, or another stat entirely? Even simple games like Torchlight make sure that your sockettable items give you at least two options, making you think long and hard about where they’re going to go.
I’ve already lost most of you, haven’t I? The point is, RPGs like to give you items that provide very different benefits depending on where you use them. So how on earth does that relate to babies?
As I’m slowly learning, there are different bonuses for different ways of holding Morgan. Laying on the lap is good for play and feeding; cradled in my arms gives me a +10 fussiness debuff; holding her with her butt in one hand and her head in the other hand gives me a bonus against gassy fussiness and a playtime buff; and holding her over my shoulder while patting her back and walking around gives a huge buff to calming and a moderate buff to sleepy baby. It’s all about knowing where to “socket” her.
If you’re wondering, Jen has general socket bonuses to calming and sleep across the board – no debuffs for cradling when mommy does it, and plenty of play and calming buffs for any position where she can see Morgan’s eyes.
It makes sense that mommy’s socket bonuses are better…after all, she had to undertake a much harder quest than dad did.
Thank goodness that babies, unlike sockettable items, can be resocketted at will until an agreeable location is found, eh?
In my last blog post I made a cheap joke about Oxytocin, meaning to convey that the sense of bliss it imparts was part of what helped even the most anti-child women become loving mothers, but my most important reader pointed out to me that the cheap joke’s tone came across far more serious than I had intended, and rather than jokingly implying that the sense of euphoria caused by the release of Oxytocin helps bad moms become good moms, it more closely implied that all mothers and babies get high off each other and that was the only reason they had a good bond. Far from being a joke, what I appeared to be saying was, quite understandably, seriously offensive. More importantly, it was offensive when I had no intention of it being offensive.
I have occasionally written inflammatory statements in the past (not yet on this blog), but the important thing about any inflammatory statement I write is that I intend to be offensive when I write it. I have even occasionally told offensive and off-color jokes, but, again, the important thing is that I expect the possibility of my listener either laughing or being offended. If I tell a (lame) joke that I consider to be largely harmless and find out that, in actuality, it could be taken as broadly denigrating the bond every single mother shares with her children, well, that’s a problem.
As a result, I changed the wording of the offending paragraph last night. I realize that this is just a blog, and I realize that I may never have a wide readership, but I am still a writer, and I still want to strive for excellence in my writing. The editorial process is an important part of the writing process, and, just as I would want to go back and remove typos or factual errors pointed out to me, I want to remove or rework statements that just don’t work in their present form.
I doubt I will generally point out edits that I make, as (I hope) they will usually only consist of minor corrections and formatting adjustments, but this was a big enough change that I wanted to draw attention to it and say mea culpa. If you read yesterday’s post before last night’s edit and found it to be offensive, I want to apologize for my careless wording. I conveyed a message that I absolutely did not intend to say, and I am truly sorry for any and all offense I caused.