Wednesday, August 8, 2007

stages of Frances

Mitch has been out of town for 5 days and I am not a fan of being a single parent. Especially being as sick as I am, constantly. Today I was desperate and called several of my neighbors until I found someone who would come over for an hour and play with my daughter while I hung out around the toilet. Such joy. When she said she would, I cried.

AND we’re going to France on Friday for 2 weeks. Mitch and I had talked about this trip before, had talked about not getting pregnant until afterwards so I wouldn’t be sick while we are there. At the time I thought, “Oh, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal if I were sick…” I don’t know what I was thinking. I’m rather sad about it all, because I won’t enjoy it nearly as much, I’m sure, as I would if I were feeling better. I don’t enjoy much of anything right now.

My girl is climbing. It happened rather quickly—she’s had quite a leap in abilities in the last 2 weeks. She now walks while only holding onto one of my hands, and the climbing thing. We have this armchair with an ottoman and both of them are lower than other furniture. Yesterday she was standing at the ottoman and I turned to do something, and when I looked back she was SITTING in the chair. I said, “How did you get up there?” but she didn’t tell me. It’s pretty neat to watch her learn these things, to SEE her make the connections. Oh my she’s turning into a big person. While it requires a different set of skills from me to keep her out of things now that she’s mobile, I find it’s easier on me overall. She can entertain herself; can follow me around the house rather than my having to carry her with me. Clearly we need to childproof some areas in which she before showed no interest, but she’s also learning the word no. (As well as learning to say it—she shakes her head no now, mostly when I’m trying to get her to eat a little more of her dinner.)

She’s still extremely social and likes seeing new things and people. She’s afraid of almost nothing—just curious about the world. This also makes things much easier on me. When I was traveling with her, for example, she went to other people very easily, helpful people who volunteered to hold her while I collapsed the stroller or put our bags in the overhead bin. This weekend at a baby shower she let nearly everyone there hold her who wanted to. When she goes to someone new she studies their face with this completely earnest expression. If I’m holding her, she smiles at everyone with this little blink, a flirtatious squeeze of her eyes that is quite charming. Yet she’s also becoming attached to me—but it’s not showing up in fear of strangers or anxiety when I leave her with a sitter (a friend or my mom usually. In fact, when I leave her and say goodbye at the door, she smiles big and waves.) It shows up in the house in that she doesn’t want me to put her down. She’ll play on her own nicely, but if I pick her up for whatever reason, she doesn’t want to get back on the floor and will often cry and hold up her arms when I put her down anyway.

I read about this stage recently—this attachment stage that is similar to the possessive infatuation of a lover. It makes sense. She uses my body like she wants to OWN it—climbs on me, puts her fingers up my nose, in my mouth to check my teeth, pulls my hair. The hair pulling is funny: she grabs big handfuls and is so pleased about it that she squeals and laughs and jumps up and down. I have to control myself not to laugh back at her but rather keep a straight face while I tell her, “No, Frances. Be gentle.” She also tries to bite me. This one took me awhile to figure out. I know it’s partially about wanting to use her teeth, which she loves, but there’s also something more. She’ll bite me on the leg, or the shoulder, or the stomach. She broke skin not long ago. When I hold her away from me to keep her from doing it, she completely falls apart. It’s this reaction that makes me think it’s part of this possessiveness; that, and the fact that she doesn’t do it to her dad or anyone else but me.

When we get back from France I go back to work almost immediately so it will be interesting to see how this developmental stage plays out when I’m not around as much. I have to say that I’m rather looking forward to the quiet of my commute, time to listen to music or NPR or talk on the phone, or just to watch the clouds above the interstate and think about what my girl is doing.

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