Friday, January 15, 2010

Independence Day

Noticeably taller, we begin a new year with that slap-in-the-face feeling that our baby is growing up too fast; gaining opinion (as is she didn’t have one before) and independence. Signs of this are popping up everywhere.

We used to sing “de-EV-eee, Devi Baby” in the shower and if we do this now she will immediately correct you, “I am not a baby”. To resolve this issue, we now sing “de-EV-ee, Devi Darling” which seems to have done the trick. Family shower sing-a-longs are still a favorite past time with “Shake Your Booty”, “Joy to the World”, and the Fabulous Thunderbirds song with the words slightly changed to “Wrap Devi Up, I’ll Take Her” the songs we sing most often.

She has become a great help in the kitchen. Last night she used the biscuit cutter to make our doughy cheese biscuits, placing them neatly on the baking tray, all by herself. I was amazed at how well she followed direction and how little supervision she required. As they baked and I was working on another part of the meal, she supplied two pot holders and placed them on the oven handle unprompted. She told me they were there so that I would be “all-set”, once the timer went off, declaring them done.

Buttoning things and socks still are a bit difficult, but for the most part she now dresses herself. Pajama’s, princess panties, pants, shoes, coats and mittens seem to be mastered and along with this honed skill comes a very strong opinion as to each specific article of clothing she would like to wear. Devi also possesses a strong desire for things to match. I am usually a multi-colored girl at all times, so I think this trait must come from her father. If given the choice, the girl would wear a dress everyday of the week, preferably with tights, but I think this may stem from long ago when someone at preschool said princesses only wear dresses. Although we stressed that she is a princess every day and that princess qualities come from one’s heart, she still is convinced that attire has something to do with it. If a tiara were available, she would most likely wear one even to bed.

Blessed with the kindest of souls and extremely sensitive of others’ feelings, Devi is forever consoling others, giving pats on the back, hugs and kisses and lately has started calling us pet names like Hun, and Sweetheart. She loves to ask, “How was your day, Hun?” when I pick her up in the afternoons, which is so darling it is hard not to bust a gut when I hear it each day. She talks so much like a grown up at times it floors me. “Aww, the baby is soooo cute” she’ll utter in a raised forty something year old mom voice just like I would talk about a friend's baby.

For the past couple of weeks, when I arrive at preschool she is holding the hand of not one, but two little boys. Innocent as it may be, they appear to be approaching her, which I’m not sure is reassuring or not! And, of course, hugs must be doled out when she leaves along with goodbyes to friends, some of which are not even in her room. This is really of no surprise, as she still is quite friendly and greets complete strangers wherever we go. She has begun to ask them very personal questions. What are you doing? Who are you? Why is (insert item) in your shopping cart? Why are you wearing that? Whose daddy are you? and various other interrogating questions can pop out of her mouth at any given moment. So far, most tend to be polite with our precocious child and find it cute. Meanwhile I am turning various shades of pink as I correct her and apologize profusely.

Hanging on the handles of the refrigerator one evening and growing impatient for me to get her something to drink, Devi discovered she now possesses the strength to open the doors of our side-by-side all by herself. This may not sound like that big of a deal, but to a string bean standing 36” tall this is like scaling a tall building in a single bound. She has worked on mastering that task for months and is quite proud of her accomplishment. Devi kept opening and closing the doors and yelling “WWWoooowwwww!, mom look!” It was priceless and yet one more reminder that she is no longer a baby.

In typical story time fashion, beginning with “Once upon a time...” and ending with “and they lived happily ever after” we have told made up tales to Devi as she would sits on the toilet. Those times have now been replaced with her saying “Mom, let me tell you a story....” Role reversal on the toilet. My how times have changed. Thankfully her tales are imaginative and short.

The clincher came recently during our new years clean up mission. We were finally labeling some tapes from the video camera and came across images taped when Devi had been home only a few weeks. It was then that it hit me how much growing, maturing and changing have happened since September of 2007. Devi was astonished too. “Is that MEEE?” Yep, the curly topped little giggling bundle taking those first wobbly steps was her. The images that made her laugh out loud, dropped me in my tracks. When did this happen? Did I blink one too many times? When did she go from 6 month clothing to a 2T? or from size 2 in shoes to a 7? When did her babble become words? I instantly realized that the ole cliche is true! They really do grow up over night.

Still in a state of shock, I have made that internal vow to keep my eyes wide open from now on....until we label the next set of tapes during another new years clean up and I feel, once again, that sting of new found independence on my cheeks one more time.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Just a Healthy Dose of Pirate Spray

Containment being a key feature of a crib, we have been reluctant to make the transition to Devi’s “big-girl” bed. For whatever reason, however, Devi has recently taken an interest in taking this step. It might be because much of her conversation these days revolves around the fact that she is going to be a big sister and with this comes the need to free up the crib for her sibling.

This sibling news, spoken as if it is going to happen tomorrow, comes as quite a shock to some who don’t know that we have been in process to adopt a second Indian princess for over a year and a half; and to those who are aware of this tumultuous journey, spurs them to question if we have received “news” of which we unfortunately have not. In any case, Devi is convinced that her sister is waiting in India for us to come and get her, and so she is preparing herself to be the best big sister she can by asking the important questions...Can I hold her? Can I kiss her? Can I share my toys with her? Can I feed her? Can I sleep beside her? These welcomed conversations come often and are always genuinely sweet.

With this in mind, on January 1st, Devi asked if we could put up her big girl bed. We’ve held off for months, but felt this milestone was a good way to start the new year, as just a year ago, January 1st, she began wearing princess panties; no more diapers.

Together, the three of us took apart the crib, thoroughly dusted and vacuumed the vacated room, and directly on the floor, positioned the box spring and mattress, donated by my sister, in the spot the crib once occupied. Adorned with the hand-me-down quilt sewn by Devi’s namesake, her great great Aunt Rose, and with all the various stuffed animals, security objects and blankets in place we declared the transformation done. Devi was thrilled, immediately trying it out to check fit, cush and comfort. She was so proud and somehow, knowing that two of her cousins also slept in this bed makes it extra special!

Night one. She asked if we could have story time, lullaby and prayers in bed, rather than in the rocking chair as we usually do. Great! It seemed that this transition was seamless. On cue, her thumb had taken it’s sleepy time position in her mouth and pokey, her blanket square had miraculously wrapped itself in it’s special folded way around her hand with a furry part on her nose, and silky part between her first two fingers. Kisses and the closing of eyes was all that was needed to complete our night time ritual. But, this didn’t happen.

I’ll be the first to admit that we have been blessed with the easiest of children to raise thus far, which does make me more fearful of her teenage years, but suffice to say, she has waltzed through infancy and toddler milestones practically raising herself. Sleeping, feeding, talking, babysitters, potty training, entering preschool, vacationing - have all come naturally (knock on wood) while we, the first time parents have watched and...okay, have probably taken some undeserved credit for.

On this night came the “stall” of questions, whines and cries. Finally exhausting all her efforts, I made it out of the room, closed the door and listened as she whined a bit. Then she screamed out “mom” and although I thought I might have been manipulated, I went into the room, more to check that she was still in bed than anything. I settled her down, tucked her in and left the room. Somewhat baffled, I was unsure of how to handle this new development. Gone was my lights out 7:30pm to 6:30am kid, and because she has always been so easy, we never learned how to handle real sleep issues. In the course of one evening we had gone from old pros to inept parents.

Night two came on an evening we were entertaining friends for dinner. I was encouraged because our guests did receive a Devi guided tour of her new bed, complete with test drive. Devi was an absolute pill through dinner, however, so when lights-out time came, I decided to take the tough momma approach and not enter the room if she fussed. Although whining a bit when I closed the door, I knew that she would momentarily drift off. This did not happen. After a good 15 minutes of crying, I heard the intonation change in her cry and decided I needed to get things in check. I entered the room and raised my voice, in that tough momma tone, that it was night night time. I was surprised to see that she was out of bed, crying real tears and throwing things. Oh boy, I flubbed-up! She was truly scared and needed me. Feeling awful, I took her into my arms, calmed her down and eventually got her back in bed. As I was rubbing her back, she looked up at me and asked between those almost crying gulps of air, “Momma, is it okay if I close my eyes?” Melt my heart, poor baby. Okay, so now feeling massive guilt, I’ve given her reason for life long counseling!

The next morning her first words to me were , “Momma, I’m sorry for my bad behavior.” I apologized for my bad behavior too and cuddled together, we had a long discussion. I discovered that she does not want to bring the crib back but has two big fears; the dark and pirates. The dark is understandable, the reason for her night light, but pirates? It turns out, in passing, she witnessed part of a scene from Pirates of the Caribbean at a Best Buy store while shopping recently with daddy and it has definitely stuck with her. E-gads, pirates, pillaging and turning into skeletons, how do we dispel that?

Third night, we tried leaving the hall lights on and door open, with not much improvement. At this point, I doubted that even bringing the crib back would solve our pirate issue and I was silently praising parents of children with sleep issues because I do not possess the patience required for this on a nightly basis. Even after a long conversation about how pirates are really just daddy’s in Halloween costumes, she was still frightened and unbelieving.

Fourth day. I had another long talk with Devi about the big girl bed. She insisted that she did not want the crib back. Okay, onto plan B. Daddy, Devi and I entered her room in the early afternoon and I explained that all mother’s have cans of invisible monster and pirate spray. At first she shouted, “No, no!” until I told her it is a repellent and keeps them away forever! I passed a can of spray to her and daddy, we each gave them a good shake and together we gave her room a healthy dose, laughing and even spraying each other along our way. In the closets, around the furniture and in the drapes we sprayed until she was sure we had hit every spot. When bedtime came, we negotiated leaving her India hanging light on until she fell asleep and that was that. Absolutely no fussing! One last final kiss, closed the door and silence...I got my girl back!

Update! Tonight there was a bit of fussing...15 minutes max and she is now snoozing away!