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Archive for November, 2010

The other day I tried to stage some photos for our holiday card.  (Yes, we’re going to be Those People and send out cards with photos of our baby looking festive.  Just go with it.  And if you want one, please send me your address.)  I put Miles in a green striped sweater and positioned him near a sunny window, in a rocking chair.  Usually, I just let the photos come naturally, but this time even Miles could tell I was forcing it. 

“Miles, look innocent and holidayish,” I commanded.

He rewarded me with this gem of an expression.

Satan baby.

“Okay, one more time.  You can do it!” I enthused.  “Think snowflakes, wonder, gifts, family, Santa, doves, yada yada.”  I lifted the camera.  And Miles did his best impression of the Bad Seed.

Wicked fun.

“Miles, really.  I said look innocent.  Let’s try again.”

Miles heaved a sigh and slumped down miserably.

Joy, shmoy.

Clearly, Miles was not feeling it.  Couldn’t he be festive on demand?!  I needed my perfect holiday-card photo.  Couldn’t he embody all that is pure and gorgeous and ideal about the holidays?  Is that so much to ask, I beg of you? 

Apparently, however, it is.  He’s a baby, not a symbol.  I got a couple of nice shots.  I even thought I got The One.  But ultimately, for the cards (we made two different ones), we chose photos from a few weeks ago.  They have both been published on the blog already, so they are clearly not “holiday” photos.  But they are authentically joyful, tender moments that I had been just lucky enough to catch because I happened to be paying attention.  They’re photos that capture the Miles-ness of Miles, just as he is. 

Okay, this might be gag-a-licious, but I’d like to see a lesson here.  This holiday season, maybe I won’t try to orchestrate perfection.  Maybe I won’t hold up in my mind an image of unblemished beauty and togetherness, only to feel crestfallen when life is messy and full of petty irritations. 

It’s difficult, isn’t it?  We have this idea in our minds of what the holidays should be.  The pressure is on to feel loved, to achieve harmony, to recreate for ourselves and for others that magical childhood potion of anticipation, frenzy and satiety. That pressure is why so many people hate the holidays — because life falls short, because family wounds surface, because we feel absolutely nauseated by television commercials telling us to buy diamonds and cars and sweaters, oh my.

What if, just for this year, I could be open to experiencing the holidays just as they are?  What if I could be a patient, loving observer of myself and my family members?  What if I could capture and watch the moments as they unfold, even the unhappy ones?  The stressed out why-did-I-come-to-the-mall ones?  The everyone-is-being-crazy-and-driving me ape-sh*t-bonkers ones?  The this-gift-is-so-not-what-I-wanted ones?  The my-cookies-are-burned-and-my-fudge-is-runny ones?  What a crazy idea!  Just experiencing the holidays as they are and not projecting my desires onto them?  Have I been reading too many books by Jon Kabat-Zinn?  Um, yes, I have.  But why the heck not?  It could be fun.  If nothing else, the pressure would be off.

Okay, enough crazy talk.  Here are the rest of the photos.  Do they capture the essence of the holiday?  No.  They capture the essence of a boy being plonked into a rocking chair on a sunny morning.  And they are absolutely perfect.

Here and now.

 

My darling Clementine.

 

Green, gray, orange.

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Step Routine

He’s walking, folks!

After holding on to his moms’ fingers for months, after taking his first independent steps in August and then seeming to lose interest, after adamantly refusing all exhortations to just please, pretty please, walk to Momma, Miles is really and truly walking.  He’s been doing it for about  a week, but I held off on announcing it in case he was faking us out.  It looks like this walking is legit!

He can walk across a room or across our entire apartment.  He can speed up when another kid has a toy he wants.  He can walk while carrying or dragging something.  He can walk across the room and touch Luna’s eye.  He can walk while gnawing on UCOs (Unidentified Chewable Objects).  He can change directions, and he can even squat down, pick up a half-eaten cracker from our living room floor, and keep walking. 

In a happy bit of Kismet, this coincides with his sudden interest in giving hugs and kisses. Other babies, like his friend Mya, seemed to come out of the womb kissing and being affectionate.  Miles, a sweetie in his own way, just did not kiss.  Finally, we’ve hit a jackpot of baby love. He swaggers toward us grinning lusciously, throws his arms around us, and plants a wide wet mouth on our faces.

He’s just so much fun right now.  At the end of every day, I tell Robin about at least twenty-seven new or ingenious things he has done.   I’m fully aware that it’s all the usual stuff that 1-year-olds do, but I nonetheless find him enthralling.  He giggles at dogs, licks tree trunks, signs “all done” when he wants to get out of the high chair or bath tub, and has learned to get our attention from across the room by chuckling conspiratorially at us.

I don’t have any photos of the walking because I’m usually gaping open-mouthed as he does it, but I have other photos to share.  Most of them show him doing the stuff I gushed about in the last entry, like staring at trucks and wrestling with eating utensils.   Enjoy.

Truck spotting.

 

Cruisin'.

 

Mmmmwah!

 

Fork.

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This and Dat

Look into my eyes.

“What can Miles do?” a friend asked us recently.  “I mean, I know he’s not a dog, but what are his things he can do?”

People have been asking this a lot.  We usually start by explaining that Miles says four confirmed words: cat (his first), truck (his current favorite), bye-bye, and ball.  He often stands at the window gleefully announcing the trucks that go by.  “Tuh!  Tuh!  Tuh!” 

Once, at the playground, he fell on his face on the pavement.  His nose, upper lip and chin were one big scrape, and the blood and screams started flowing.  As I scooped him up and headed home, I was mentally calculating the damage. Should I put up a nonchalant front or go into full-scale soothing mode?  Just then I heard, with total clarity, “Tuh!”  We were passing the ice cream truck that parks by the playground.  The screams had stopped.  “Tuh!” 

I started walking and the truck passed out of sight; the screams resumed.  Then, half a block later, “Tuh!”  A UPS truck this time.  We made it the two blocks home with very few tears thanks to a mail truck, a produce truck, a bus, an SUV, and a garbage truck.

Other words he has said once or twice but not consistently, or he says them in the wrong situation.  (“No Miles, that spoon is not a dog.”)  Or they sound a little fuzzy.  Like, when looking at a picture of a duck, Miles might innocently say, “Cack,” and we spend the next few minutes trying to figure out if he meant “quack.”  This involves pointing at the duck and cheerfully asking, “Duck?  Quack?  What does a duck say, Miles?  Quack?  Quack?  QUACK!?!?”  It’s quite confusing for everyone involved.  So four words, we tell people, over and over. 

And then, invariably, Miles will point at a window or a table or a dog or a street performer and ask with utter clarity, “Dat?”  

“That’s a dog, Miles.  Doggie.  Dog.” 

Miles will point at something else.  “Dat?”

“That’s a stop sign.”

“Dat?”

“That’s a jack-o-lantern.”

“Dat?”

“That’s a cocktail shaker.”

"Dat?"

And so on.  Finally whatever friend we’ve just explained the four-word thing to will say, kindly, “So I guess he says ‘that,’ too.”  Um, yeah.  We guess “that” is a word.  It just seems like this annoying sound Miles makes all the time!  But he’s clearly using it to ask us to identify objects.  And, as a question, it is the most powerful word Miles knows. It opens up knowledge.  It gives him access to the names of things.  It is even beginning to eclipse “truck” as his favorite exclamation. 

Miles goes into “dat” overdrive when he’s in a new setting.  We met Robin in Manhattan for an afternoon coffee break yesterday and then stopped by the office to visit Miles’ fan club.  Inside RJ’s office, Miles’ arm was swinging this way and that like the needle of a compass.  “Dat?  Dat?  Dat?” 

“How many times a day does he say ‘dat’?” RJ asked.

“Five hundred and seventy-two?” I guessed.

He’s so very busy.  He seems to master new skills every day.  In addition to pointing and talking, he waves hello and goodbye — but only when he’s in the mood.  He’s also clapping now.  He claps most often for Robin, as a form of greeting.  He sees her, his face explodes with joy, and he starts clapping and grinning at her.  Another thing he does with Robin: cackling into the mirror.  She holds him and they admire themselves, chuckling.  Then the chuckles turn into belly laughs and finally shrieks of laughter so violent they cause vomiting and hiccups.

He’s still not walking on his own, except five or six steps very occasionally, but he’ll run if he is holding my finger, and he is standing up while holding things more often.  He likes to put lids onto and off of things, or cap and uncap pens.  He wants to know how things work.  He can put the circle piece into the shape puzzle, but not the triangle.  The triangle frustrates him.  He recently learned to climb into the rocking chair by himself and stand on it, gripping the slats and rocking.  This makes me nervous.

Rock on.

He also signs “more” when he wants more food and, occasionally, “all done” when he is done eating.  And speaking of food, he insists on feeding himself with a spoon these days.  He’s positively obsessed with utensils and will fly into a rage if other people are eating with spoons and forks and he’s not.  Then, he wants to dip his spoon into every available container at the table and mix everything together.  If he has finger foods, he dips those too: ravioli dipped in yogurt, crackers dipped in marinara and then into yogurt, yogurt spooned into water, drippy cracker-laden marinara yogurt spoon up to the mouth, and then he uses the back of his hand to shove it all in. 

And then, with a flourish, he points the spoon across the room and asks, “Dat?”

Somebody get me a fork!

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