I'd like to take a second to thank the dear lord baby Jesus, the tiny infant with golden fleece diapers and tuxedo t-shirt who fights off evil samurai, for giving us these past few weeks of no sickness in our household. I have to say it's been nice having everyone relatively healthy again and our routines back to as normal as possible. Jodi and I have been able to resume working full weeks, while Olivia has been able to both attend daycare and keep up with her responsibilities as a part-time hair stylist. She's well versed in current trends and specializes in two styles: 'Big Girl Hair,' which involves taking a scrunchie (only she can pick out the color) and either giving you a pony tail or a Pebbles Flintstone; or the ever popular 'I don't care if it looks like I'm starting dreadlocks, get that brush away from my hair.'
Yet while it's been quiet on one front, things have been very loud on others. Olivia is still pretty anti-daddy when all three of us are together, and in some ways it's gotten worse. What started as her just asking for Jodi has turned into complete attachment to her. We now have days where Jodi is the only person who can do anything for Olivia, be it comforting her, giving her a cup of water or reading her the business section of the Wall Street Journal.
I've been studying up on this and apparently it's actually a very healthy and normal thing for her to be attached to one parent, because she's learning how to develop relationships and exert choice. I'm glad that's she's developing into a functioning human being, I just with it could be with a little less 'daddy sucks ass.' I'm still working on not taking it personally, but it's diffficult. It's hard to see your own flesh and blood turn on you, no matter how old they are. It's also hard to cope when the struggle is over something seemingly so insignificant, like who puts her to bed at night. But I have to remember that all of these things are super important to her because her world is that small still. Developing a connection to Jodi is the most important thing in her life right now, and who am I to get in the way of that?
Speaking of bedtime, there have been some changes in our routine that have filled us with equal parts amazement and frustration. We're seeing her mind develop and figure out how she can affect her world, and that includes doing anything she can to delay going to sleep for the night. Our bedtime routine has always included reading a handful of books (mostly her favorites) that we picked out while she drank her milk/water/cocktail. Now we must submit every selection to her scrutiny, and we'll have to guess which book she means when she points to the two full shelves and says, "I wan read dis one." Right now I feel like I'm better at bidding for items on 'The Price is RIght' that I am at figuring out which book she wants to read.
'Goodnight Moon,' the book that we use to signal the end of storytime, is now her cue to do any and everything to keep bedtime at bay. Her tactics have ranged from comical to time-out worthy and include the following:
- requesting to read books she previously turned down
- having a complete meltdown and flopping around like a fish out of water
- grabbing the book away from us (although the thing is imprinted in our psyches now that we've read it every night for well over a year, so we just recite it)
- shushing us like she's a librarian trying to keep the peace
- doing the "la la la la, I'm not listening right now" routine
The most serious tactic she has used is straight up slapping us in the face like she's in a 'Three Stooges' short film. I can usually see her eye pokes coming and counter those, but the slaps always seem to catch me off guard. If this happens we have to determine whether giving her a time-out is counterproductive to keeping her somewhat calm and capable of getting to sleep quickly. So we normally choose to skip the timeout and opt for putting her head in a huge vice until she cries uncle.
I have to say that even amidst the frustrating stuff it's incredible to see her brain develop, watch her figure things out and continue to become a little person. She's talking a TON right now, which is fun in its own way. We'll ask her about her day and she'll tell us how she went to the park and played on the slide (and what color the slide was). She'll also bring in absurd stuff about how there was a monkey and an alligator there with her, and that they used the slide too. I love that our little Mowgli's imagination is blossoming, but I'm not looking forward to the day she brings home a giant blue bear and tries to explain how he hired her to help with his air freight company and she gets to ride the clouds on an air surfboard. I draw the line when it comes to my child's safety.
On the flipside, her bossiness mixed with chatterboxing (is that even a word?) has some down sides. She'll command us to do something and then ask what we're doing. Dude, we're doing what you just decreed we should be doing! She'll leave a room with Jodi in it and come to me asking, "Where mama go?" I'm fairly certain she's still in that room you were just in, kiddo, unless she saw her chance to escape the madness and dove out a window. When we have visitors or Skype with family she'll be shy and not say a thing, no matter how much we prompt her. Then as soon as we end the call, or our company leaves, she asks where they went and sometimes gets upset because they aren't coming back. And, most recently, Jodi was subjected to the 'Family Guy' "Mama, mama, ma, mama..." moment which they nailed on the head so perfectly. Witnessing that almost made me think I didn't have it so bad after all. Almost.
All in all I think it's really cool to see her testing how she can influence the world she lives in, even if at times it's frustrating for her, us or other people in her life. I've watched her eyes light up in astonishment and heard her yelp as she found out that she could break a Cheerio in half ("This half a Cheerio was a whole Cheerio just a second ago! Wizardry!!!"). I've sat back and tried not to laugh as she took a piece of toast, scraped off tiny pieces of it and then sprinkled those same tiny pieces on top of the toast, as if she was adding a pinch of seasoning for flavor. I've listened as the daycare owner exclaimed how frustrated she was when Olivia wanted to cross the street by herself, like a big girl, and refused to hold anyone's hand or the rope that all the kids need to hang on to when doing so. I've felt sadness over being so caught up in frustration over these things I've written about that I sometimes neglect what a gift it is to have her in my life.
If anything, I need to focus more on the little moments we have together, and as a family, that are happy and mean more than any of that other stuff will. Of course there will be other growing pains, some with and some without Alan Thicke, but we'll get past those too. I don't want to have any "bad" moments be what sticks out in my memory down the road. So even if it's just a fleeting moment or two each day, I try to appreciate the things she does that put a smile on my face. Her infectious giggle, the way she has to wear sunglasses upside down, sharing a bowl of cereal with her, listening to her sing for an hour after she's supposed to be sleeping and, on nights like tonight, spending the last few minutes before bedtime pretending to eat each other's elbows. Did I mention we're weird?