What’s New Wednesday: Wakefulness and the Parental Orchestra
So about that nap strike… It seems to have become a staying asleep at night strike as well. On Monday night in particular, we had a perfectly ordinary night and the bedtime routine was smooth as molasses. At 7:30pm on the dot, I put a very asleep thirteen month old down in her bed and headed off to the world of adults only relaxation. My stay was cut short, however, when not fifteen minutes later that same thirteen month old popped up with those big, bright eyes and enthusiastically squealed: “EEEE!” I went in to her room and it was quite obvious that she was not going to be sleeping any longer. She was ready to play, and play she did until 11:30 when she finally went back to sleep.
I’m glad to know that periods of increased wakefulness and activity are common in young children who are busily perfecting a new skill or reaching a major developmental milestone. I’m also thankful to have been reminded by a good friend today that “everything is a phase.” So, so true. There will undoubtedly be plenty of opportunities for adults only relaxation, and for uninterrupted sleep in the future, and so we embrace the place we’re in now … or at least do our best.
Aside from the minimal sleep, it has been a perfectly ordinary week around these parts. Annabelle, having learned the full power of her recently discovered signs, is now spending much of her day directing her very own parental orchestra. “Milk,” she begs. Then, moments later: “water!” Still not satisfied, she moves on to “food,” and of course no day is complete without a “book,” which of course must be read a few times to get the full effect, and so she asks for “more.” I won’t pretend I don’t find myself a bit worn out here and there, but it’s absolutely worth the trust and understanding we’re developing. I love that she knows that she can come to me for the things she needs and wants, and that I will respond. Naturally, I’m not always able to give her precisely what she wants at the exact moment that she wants it – milk while driving the car is particularly challenging – but that’s all part of the learning process, too.
Speaking of books, my goodness does this child love them! She has gone from becoming bored by the third of fourth page of most any story, to asking to hear the same one half a dozen or more times in succession. She really seems to enjoy the flow of the words, often nodding her head in time with them, and she enthusiastically joins in with a bit of movement. She throws her arms in the air just before I get to the word, “up” in books, which is awesome not only because she has developed a connection with that word and the action that goes along with it, but because she has also clearly memorized portions of her books, since she does the motion before I reach the word. She also had her first visit to the children’s area in the library today, where she thoroughly enjoyed pulling every board book off the shelves (I replaced them in order, of course!) and gleefully throwing herself face-first onto the super neat cushions on the floor. I can’t believe I waited so long to take her there!
There have not been any truly large changes this week, but I am noticing subtle signs that my toddler is growing up. I seldom have to clean the floor along with the table after dinner, for example, and even the table is considerably less messy after a meal than it used to be. I am no longer permitted to remove snacks from containers, as that is now the job of the extremely independent girl who is to eat them. I’m still there spotting, but I rarely get to help Annabelle climb down off the couch, and she even gets out of our bed when she wishes now. I don’t apply soap to her skin in the bathtub anymore either; a squirt of foam onto the edge of the tub is enough for her to painstakingly apply to her entire torso, neck, and chin with one fingertip.
Of course this new independence does not always mean less work for me. It also means a lot more squeals of frustration. A lot more throwing up of arms and squishing up of faces. It’s really tough when you know precisely what you want and how to communicate it clearly, yet still find that you’re unable to have it. I suppose every new stage comes with its own challenges as well as its own joys. I’m learning and growing right along with my girl.