i hate that stage. it was my first taste of real honest-to-god want-to-pull-my-hair-out, biting-my-nails, developing-nervous-twitches introduction into the parenting scene after ruth was born. then, of course, i quickly forgot what it was about this age that makes things suddenly so…twitch-inducing, and i moved on to bigger and badder things. i held in my mind, though, a vague notion that things seemed to get easier with the first six months after having a baby and then they took a sudden turn for the worse, the more difficult, though the specifics of why eluded me. until now.
because, dear reader, i am back there. in the weeds. with an “after six-month-old-but-before-walker”. and how clear it all is. how quickly it all comes rushing back. how familiar. i guess i should feel relief that joel is mirroring ruth in so many ways. yet relief seems to be one of the furthest things from my scope of feelings on a day-to-day basis around here.
it’s small, tiny, minute things, really, but added all together and the difference is striking. i wrote in a previous post about how joel is now crawling and that is making life difficult. on top of this, however, his entire brain is changing, and along with it, his behavior. his brain has reached that level of sophistication where he is able to grasp just the bare minimum of life going on around him, just enough for him to make as much trouble (for me) as possible.
for instance, he has reached the very special age of rejecting his car seat, high chair, or anywhere else you might like to place him, thank you very much, and arches his back and squeals in disgust and fights against you until you have no choice but to put him happily crawling back on the floor eating dust bunnies where he was before you interrupted him. i love these times. they make things that used to be so easy take forever. like getting ready to go. or eating lunch. then, once he’s in the high chair, the clock is ticking, my friends. the game is how long will joel stay in his high chair? sounds simple and boring, until you start adding elements. ruth is eating too and shouts out various demands at random, such as, “i want a piece of cheese!” then, when you take it to her, says, “no! not that cheese! i want the orange cheese!” on top of keeping a constant watch on joel for choking or allergic reactions, i am often trying to simultaneously feed myself. and just see if you can make it through a meal without heartburn or indigestion with all of this going on. the food is falling on the floor. the dog is eating it up. i am tripping on the dog. i am yelling at the dog. ruth wants something to drink…milk! no! not milk! she hates milk! water! not in that cup! the princess cup! where the hell is the damn princess cup?! i don’t know, ruth! it’s missing! just drink out of this cup! NO!!!!! then joel starts gagging and i rush in with his water which he promptly throws on the floor. the dog goes over and smells it. i take one bite of my sandwich and of course need to jump up before i finish chewing to get something else for ruth. plus, i’m also usually working on the dishes as well. there’s dirty spoons flung into all the corners of the kitchen, food splattered, joel’s outfit is ruined, the dishes…teetering, threatening to end it all in a swift plummet into the hard bottom of the sink.
he’s also become violent with his hands. he hits his sister. he hits me. he pulls our hair and even somehow managed to scratch the inside of my lip today. all innocently. which is ok for me. i can shake off the battery, see it coming, block it. but it often catches ruth unawares and makes her furious. “be nice to your brother, ruth.” if i recorded every time i said these words all day long, i could hand greg over a tape five minutes long (ok, i just aged myself pretty damningly) that he could sit and listen to and eat his dinner (in peace) after he got home from work. the soundtrack to my freakin’ life these days…
and that little stinker. he’s getting smart about sleep. he’s learning to avoid it. to keep himself awake when he should, by all reason, be asleep. he now knows when i hold him just so, he might, if he doesn’t revolt immediately, be placated into a silent (blissful!) slumber. and he can’t let that happen. he’s learning that he doesn’t have to go back to sleep after the early morning feeding. hey, he can actually just stay up, while he’s at it. the sun is dimly lighting the horizon. technically, it’s morning. you can’t fool him.
he’s eating everything small. or poisonous. or just plain nasty. he’s pissing his sister off all damn day long so i constantly have to save his life which is in consistent peril. he wants to be held. a lot. and will seek me out like a missile if i’m within range. and he squawks that squawk that you know is going to morph into, “Mo-OM!” in just a little while.
please pass me the wine. i need to self-medicate my nervous ticks. how many months until he starts walking? he’d better be an early walker.