Another busy weekend of firsts for our Miss Jarrah Rose. Saturday we met Mary, Paul, Joy, Alison and little Luke (I held him--18 lbs. felt like a featherweight after our solid girl!) at the Birch Aquarium for a little fish action. Turns out Jarrah and Joy are as wild for fish as they are for ducks! It was so incredibly fun to see them not knowing where to point first. And for the first time I noticed that many of the displays are at kid-level--nice! Jarrah really enjoyed pressing her nose and hands against the glass and making her appreciative "uh-UH!" noises. She's not doing any of that annoying tapping and knocking that older toddlers do yet, so I figured a couple of handprints were okay. ;)
She is like a completely different child since she's been walking. (And that's only been four days! Wow!) David and I were joking that she seems so much more mature. Her confidence has increased, and there were several times that she scampered back into the dark, fishy, watery world of the exhibits without so much as a howdayadoo over her shoulder for us. It was sweet to see her so fearless, so venturesome, so Lewis and Clark. Now, strollers at the aquarium are another matter. It was a good thing she's walking because those narrow hallways are crowded as it is, and pushing a cumbersome wheeled vehicle through the throngs was nearly impossible. We ended up carrying her or letting her walk and just shoving the stroller off to one side.
The outdoor tide pools were another big hit, but not because she even noticed there were sea stars and spiky anemones inside. It was the steps she sought, and for the first time, she could climb them herself. See for yourself! During the day, we had a bunch of nice conversations with other parents, who admired our daughters in their squeaky shoes. And you know what? Not one weird comment about adoption. It's uncanny! Now that I've written this, of course, I'll get something freaky and maddening today, but any questions we had were the standard ones like "How long has she been walking?" and "Where did she get those shoes?" and "How is it possible she is so darn cute?" I made up that last one, but it's definitely the question I find myself asking, so I figure I'm not alone. ;)
An aside about what I've begun to call "The Code of Mothers." There hasn't been one instance of me attempting to propel myself and the stroller through a heavy door in an ungainly fashion that a mother, young or old, doesn't come gallantly to my rescue. There seems to be an unspoken agreement about it. Last week at the mall, a sweet-faced granny-type actually came clackety-clacking towards us on her heels, breathless: "I saw you, dear, and I ran so you wouldn't have to futz with the door!" Yesterday, while David was parking the car, I was manoevering a swinging gate with one hand and the stroller with the other when I saw a young mom and three children in my peripheral vision and, blinkety-blink, she instructed her oldest: "You go get that door for her; we'll wait here." It kind of bowls me over. David said I will pass on the honor of the code by instructing Jarrah to hold doors, too, when the time is right.
On Sunday, Jarrah attended her very first kiddie birthday party. Heck, I attended MY first kiddie birthday party. And what a party it was! It was Anton's "Double Bubble" 2nd birthday, on account of him missing his first birthday party because he was still in Russia. The Gillespies provided a grand time for all, and the rain obliged by holding off, just barely, with a couple of drips here and there. We had bagels and bubbles and Jarrah had her first pinwheel, which tickled her immensely when it spun crazily in the blustery wind. But the best part (and here I must confess I speak only for myself; Jarrah will have to bear witness in her own blog someday) was what Mary called "the jump-jump," one of those big inflatable thingos that kids leap around in. I have gazed longingly at these many a time when I've passed a children's party; they are incredibly bouncy and you can hear kids screaming from inside as their little heads practically bonk the roof as they leap. Sigh. As a child, I was somehow always too old or too big for those rooms full of balls in which my siblings cavorted, and I'd press my nose to the plastic window and wonder how life got so unfair. Well, dear readers, I got my karmic payback yesterday. Jarrah and Joy and little Ava had their time in the jump-jump, and enjoyed it to varying degrees. But then they all tumbled out and yours truly got her time in the sun. Well, it wasn't actually sunny, but I did get to jump and leap and bounce and fall the way I've always wanted to, and what makes it all the sweeter is I don't have radiating lower back pain this morning like I was afraid I would. Ah, youth. How I long to reclaim thee. ;)
Last night was another first. David and I had our first official date night, with our first official babysitter. Our friend Barb was sweet enough to offer to stay with the little angel, and after our fun visit with her last week we knew it would go well. We daringly planned an afternoon matinee of "V for Vendetta" (a lot of fun, Hugo Weaving makes a great hero-villian, and Natalie Portman's bald head does not actually signify that she's a bad-ass) followed by our first meal out at a non-chain restaurant for Afghan food, mmm, yum, cherry rice. I typed out a ridiculous amount of instructions, feeling v. important and knowledgeable about our child, and spent 30 minutes walking Barb around the house to annotate the child-friendly features. David left his phone on vibrate, and we took off with Jarrah in a sweet, pliant mood; she had just demonstrated her latest adorable behavior: the leg-hug. We didn't hear a peep all night, and returned at 8:45 to a dim, quiet house and Barb on the couch, peacefully reading magazines to the sound of the dryer. Or so we thought. When I said "How'd it go?" I actually thought she was joking when she responded, "You guys, she cried the entire time." What? Our girl crying? Mind you, we know she's an ace kvetcher, and not above a well-timed shriek or wail to emphasize her point. But consistent sobbing? We haven't seen that since Chongqing! Barb explained that she'd done everything she could think of to amuse and distract her, but the spates of contentment were few and far between. Aside from a mysteriously long late-afternoon nap (Jarrah napping at her dinner time? Unheard of! Are we talking about the same baby here?) she had been inconsolable through park and french fries and games and anything else Barb pulled out of her bag of tricks.
Readers, I felt so strange hearing this. A big part of me was mortified, of course, that Barb had signed on for such an unpleasant evening, and had valiantly soldiered through without calling us in desperation. Another part of me was sad for Jarrah, crying all that time. But there was a part of me, too, that felt not-so-secretly thrilled, because her misery suggested that she actually knows who we are now, and that she misses us when we're not there. And I couldn't even chalk it up to her missing David: after all, she doesn't cry all day when he's at work! I was puzzled remembering how Lindsey and Thomas had teased us after their shorter childcare stint that she didn't seem the least concerned with our absence, but then remembered that was three weeks ago, half the time we've known her ago. Apparently, something has changed.
We went to bed, feeling a bit unsettled that we hadn't seen her to say good-night. She had obviously cried herself to exhaustion because she didn't make a peep all night. But several times, I woke up anyway, thinking of her, and wondering how she was doing across the hall. I was surprised to realize that I sort of missed her, and was looking forward to seeing her in the morning, and smooching all over her to remind her we're still here.
How very strange. What a difference six weeks can make.