Thursday, December 28, 2006

A Few Little Lines About a Really Big Girl

In honor of Jarrah's birthday, and because I hate to see my liberal arts education go to waste, I compose the following anaphora, drawing from today, December 28, 2006:

I Love You When You Ride The Doot-Doot

I love you when you sing "Eat, eat, eat!" along with the Wiggles
I love you when you are sporting sunglasses
I love you when you steal other children's toys
I love you when you cry because we missed the doot-doot
I love you in a sparkly BIRTHDAY GIRL t-shirt
I love you when you're digging in the sand with a coffee cup
I love you when you're waiting on top of the slide
I love you when you scream because you see your daddy getting out of his car
I love you when your eyes roll back in your head from your first sip of chocolate milk
I love you when you throw fistfuls of sand in a ditch for half an hour
I love you when you run into the street as fast as you can
I love you when you are covered in mud and chocolate and snot
I love you when your hair is full of knots
I love you when I see you yawn in the rear view mirror
I love you when you yell "Doot-doot!" because you recognize this parking lot
I love you when you peer through the fence at the train going around
I love you when you ride the doot-doot
I love you when you wave each time you pass
I love you when you say "Juice?" seventeen times because we see a Jamba Juice
I love you when you drop every crayon within three seconds of sitting down at lunch
I love you when you eat mac and cheese with a soup spoon
I love you when you drop noodles in your friend's cup
I love you when you descend the stairs with great concentration
I love you when I say "Nap?" and you say "No!" and then yawn
I love you when I cover you up and you grab my hand and wink
I love you when you fall asleep immediately
I love you when you're sleeping and I can't see you
I love you on your birthday
I love you all year long.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

I Bow My Head

Well, I guess gloating gets you a humbling kick in the ass. Tonight we went to the Wild Animal Park Festival of Lights with Olivia and her parents, and let's just say Jarrah won't be gathering any more laurels for her sophisticated attention span. Riding a rhino on the carousel was fun, and stringing plastic beads on a pipe cleaner bracelet surprisingly absorbing. Running amok in the dinner line was par for the course, as was the terrifying diaper that preceded the meal. We were right on target for a typical evening in a crowded public amusement spot as we made our way to the piece de resistance: the doot doot. Now, strictly speaking, the Tramway is not a doot doot. There is no doot, for starters. No chug-chug sounds, and no "All aboard!" (an exclamation that Jarrah recently has begun shouting at surprising intervals.) But we figured that these deficiencies would be nicely corrected by the addition of actual wild animals frolicking to the right and left of the cars. Well, we thought wrong.

She was quite excited as the tram exited the station, and seemed to be waiting for it pick up speed. Instead, of course, it poked along at about 5 miles an hour, and stopped frequently so our laconic guide could point out rabbits (truly, it was a slow night for the African plains.) Since it was, as mentioned, NIGHT, there wasn't much to see, and what there was was sort of beige and difficult to differentiate from other less kinetic patches of beige around it. And most of the beigey beasts were snoozing anyway. Which is what our own more colorful beast would have been doing, had she been at home.

Within five minutes, she was over it, and began pacing the length of our car, ramming her way past our knees and those of our companions. Soon after, she added climbing onto the bench in any available crack between occupants, and either burying her hands in the hair of those in front of her, or staring impolitely at those behind her.

The real delight came when she fixated her affections on a slight, bald fellow behind her and considered him thoughtfully while murmuring "Ma-muh. Ma-muh. Ma-muh." in plaintive tones, while the poor guy tried not to notice, difficult since her face was about three inches from his and he had nowhere to go. At this point, David and I tried to contain her in some fashion, quietly suggesting she sit in our laps or admire some Chinese cows, but that was when she started whining, moving dangerously close to the tantrum zone. The histrionic sobbing, like a final pinch of paprika, was added when our companions quite brilliantly diverted her with a talking cat--unfortunately the cat was also the beloved companion of their daughter, so this arrangement could not continue peacefully. At this point I just leaned my head out in the cool night air and wished us back into the station.

Jarrah's birthday is Thursday, and we had planned to take her for a ride on the Coaster train to meet David for lunch. I figured she'd find this plan to be heaven on a stick. Now I'm reconsidering. ;)

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Cineaste: Take Two

Last night we took Jarrah to the movies for the second time. And I wanted to take a moment to gloat that it was an unqualified success. Ever since our flight to China, when I happened to see a trailer for it on the laptop where we were watching March of the Penguins, I've been itchin' to see Happy Feet. I love tap dancing, and I love Stevie Wonder, and throw in a cute baby penguin and it really was a trifecta of deliciousness. So we had this idea that maybe Jarrah might actually want to see it, too.

We've brought her to the movies once before to see Cars and it went okay. She demanded to wander a few times but between David and I we saw a whole movie. Now, of course, it's been several months and Jarrah has a whole lot of staring-at-screens practice under her belt. So we packed up her booster chair and a lot of snacks, and when we got to the mall, we bought her a great big colorful lollipop like you see children holding in cartoons. We knew she didn't know how to use a lollipop, but we figured, how hard could it be for the Copycat Queen?

The movie was incredibly loud, and for once I was glad. We also sat down in front, away from the serious moviegoers. So far, so good. I dashed out during the preview to get a drink for David and me, and bought Jarrah a White Cherry Icee on a whim. She likes slushees, and the lack of color was appealing in case it ended up all over her shirt.

When I returned, the movie was just starting and David whispered that Jarrah had been so enthused about the trailers that she shouted "Oh nooooo!" when they finished. I handed her the Icee, a bunch of singing penguins emerged onscreen, and we were off and running.

The movie was long for animation: 1 hour, 48 minutes. I want to brag that for at least an hour, Jarrah was a model viewer. She chewed her straw to a nub, kept her eyes on the screen, and occasionally shouted "Uh oh!" when our hero, Mumble, was faced with a particularly hairy challenge, but that didn't seem to bother anybody.

Around the hour mark, she started to fidget, so we pulled out the big gun: the lollypop. Readers, here's where we made our fatal error. First, she wanted to hold the lolly by the candy part. Then she wanted to rub the entire surface over her face, turning it blue. But the real delight came when she felt moved to "share" her lolly by reaching over and pointing it into my air space as I cowered away from the sticky, slimy surface the size of a butter plate, whispering, "No, thanks!" At one point, she accidently rubbed my retreating arm with the thing, and I gasped "Argh!" which she obviously thought was great fun, because then she wiped the lolly up and down my arm and side several times, just for the pleasure of watching me squirm and yelp. I was about to get furious but then the whole thing struck me as so absurd that I cracked up instead, so hard that I worried I was the one disturbing people.

Soon enough, we were able to divert her attention, hide the lolly, and replace it with an apple and some Cheerios, both acceptable substitutes evidently because we heard no more about it. Occasionally, she'd lean her head into one of our laps and gaze up at us, but mostly she concentrated on the screen, and that's what we all did until the last frame of the closing credits. Well, that's a slight exaggeration. Once the credits started, David and I watched them, and we let her out to dance in the aisles, much to the amusement of departing viewers.

We were really quite triumphant, I tell you. The movie was cute, rollicking good fun. David and I love going to the movies, and we're hoping that so much progress in just two visits means we are going to have a pliable convert on our hands. To make it a bit sweeter, we got in just a few days under the wire for free admission for children under two. Score!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Yellow Fever

When I first met Jarrah, she had already developed a prurient interest in stacking cups and rings, so I wrongly assumed that learning the bold, primary colors that differentiate these items would be her next task. In fact, I have known Jarrah more than 10 months, during which time she has memorized the names and sounds of every barnyard animal, mastered the moves to most of the Wiggles songs and learned the difference between Bosc, Bartlett and D'anjou pears, all without the slightest awareness that purple and green are different, or even that purple and green are states of being.

Until last week sometime. She pointed at a banana and said "yellow," plain as day. I was so thrilled I went into a paroxysm of clapping. Shortly thereafter, my glee was slightly dampened when she pointed to her high chair and said "yellow." It is, in fact, blue. Hmmm. "That's blue," I told her, hopefully in an encouraging way. She was undeterred. "Yellow," she said, pointing to her green crib toy. "Yellow," she said, indicating my blue car. "Yellow," she said, holding a red apple. Clearly, she was having a breakthrough in the sense that she understands that things have a color, but now that she's found one she likes, why muddy the waters with too many options?

So, for the time being, everything is yellow. We wake up each day to a monochromatic world, with a yellow sky and yellow trees, and we romp in yellow parks full of yellow dogs and yellow flowers. We all wear yellow and eat yellow food. We love our yellow world.

Don't Mention It

Jarrah has begun saying "thanks" whenever someone gives her a snack or helps her up or retrieves an out-of-reach toy. For a while, I didn't know she was saying it, because it comes out like "deetz." She would pause and make eye contact so meaningfully, though, I started paying more attention. What I find most adorable is I never knowingly taught her this word. Of course I meant to, when it seemed appropriate. But clearly she beat me to it. It gives me a little thrill when I hear her say it, because she hasn't started preschool yet and she spends most of her time with me, so I guess (slight pause here, suggestive of modesty, completely false) I can take credit for this small infusion of manners in an unruly toddler world. Do I get a gold star? Don't answer that.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Hear Me Roar

I am brazen. Sometimes this a problem. I'll say a shockingly rude thing to someone because it seemed funny in the millisecond it took to travel from my brain to my mouth (why do other people get more time? Why, why, why?) Also, I ask the questions that everyone else is standing around not asking, wisely I might add.

Occasionally, my brazenness has helped me ask for something I want. When I wanted to teach writing but kept getting passed over at interviews without explanation, I showed up at the director's office one afternoon, loins girded and extensive list of qualifications at the ready. As soon as she said, "What can I do for you?," I opened my mouth and burst into tears instead. Shortly thereafter, I was offered a job. Hey, whatever works.

When I arrived at college, the Freshman Dean made a speech at opening convocation about wanting to know each and every one of us. The following day, I knocked on her door at College Hall. She was puzzled, and if I'm not mistaken, nervous. Was I homesick?, she asked. Hating my new roommate? Sitting alone in a dark dorm room slicing up my arm while everyone else was romping in fall leaves? Everything's fine. You said you wanted to meet me, so I stopped by. But there must be something you need, she pressed. Well....I said. I groped around in my untrammeled brain. I guess I was a little bummed that I auditioned for Advanced Acting and didn't even make the waiting list. After all, I am an actress, I told her. She didn't protest. The following day I was called out of lunch for a phone call from the Advanced Acting professor, who let me know that a spot had "just opened up" in the class. Gee, thanks!

In grad school, I felt certain I had a connection with the green-eyed boy who sat across the seminar table from me in my poetry workshop. Beyond this innate sense, I didn't know the first thing about him--we had never even exchanged a hello. But one afternoon I slipped a note into his mail cubby just the same. "You might think this is sort of brazen," I wrote, "But I was wondering if you would have coffee with me sometime?" The following day there was a note in my cubby: "I like coffee. And I like brazen." Yowza! That one didn't go well, but it probably had more to do with his live-in girlfriend than anything I did.

All this is a preamble to my current situation. I am no longer that dreamy co-ed, penning poetry by the bank of the Charles and fluttering my lashes at green-eyed men (well, there is one in particular, but we'd actually spoken before I asked him out.) Now I have very different, but just as pressing, concerns. These concerns are various, but most of them, necessarily, loop back to Jarrah. So when I spot a good thing, I don't want to risk it slipping away.

A couple months ago, Jarrah and I were at the park. It was empty. It was hot. We were both bored. Suddenly, a car rolled to a stop in front of us. Jarrah pointed. When the door opened, out stepped a lovely little girl. "Hello," she said to Jarrah, "My name is Olivia. What's yours?" I was extremely impressed by her self-possession. I could tell Jarrah was, too. Even better, Olivia's mommy was right behind her, smiling, and not acting the least bit put out that her daughter was talking to us. I know it might sound odd, but very often when Jarrah plays with another child at the park, the child's mom or dad pretends not to see me. They talk to their child and follow their child, and I follow their child because Jarrah is following their child, and it's just about the most cringe-inducing awkwardness you can imagine. I could tell this was not going to be one of those times. Within minutes, Jarrah and Olivia were holding hands and laughing, and Jessica and I were gabbing away, two fast-talkers in a slow stay-at-home world.

They had just moved here, and we were some of the first people they met. I didn't know this when I thrust my business card (hush, NIA teachers are allowed to have business cards :)) at her as we were leaving and said something akin to: "Let's do this again. I actually mean that, by the way." It seemed like a brazen thing to do, but I couldn't see any way to avoid it if we ever wanted to see them again. We've had a few more playdates and it delights me that the girls get along just as well as their mommies do.

On Thursday, we went to the zoo together to celebrate Olivia's birthday. She was turning four. Yes, that makes her two years older than Jarrah, but somehow, the age gap doesn't get in their way. Olivia is a big talker, and Jarrah doesn't talk at all, so it's a beautiful arrangement if you think about it. You know what they have in common, though? They're both brazen. And they're making it work for them.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Mama's Got a Brand New Bag

This holiday season has me feeling reflective because last year at this time we were officially "AJ" as opposed to "BJ." (After Jarrah vs. Before Jarrah.) Of course, last December I didn't know her yet, but she was present, filling up my thoughts on a minute-to-minute basis. Either I was collecting items for her care package, arranging her room, shopping for travel, or filling out more paperwork. All the while, I was staring at her picture in my wallet, at the cue ball shaved head and the slightly lolling tongue, and feverishly wondering what she'd look like in motion.

Because she was 11 months old when we got our referral, we had the opportunity to celebrate her birthday, even though she was half-way across the world at the time. I have attended many first birthday parties this year, and each time I've found myself studying the proud parents, imagining them thinking, "Wow, where has this year gone? My baby is growing up so fast." And each time I've done this, I've felt a little twinge of sadness that I never knew a Jarrah who weighed less than 27 pounds, or one that I could nestle in my arms while she drank a bottle.

It was wonderful to eat cake and sport tiaras with Mary in a dual celebration for our girls who had no idea who we were yet. I am grateful that I had that opportunity. But lately it feels weird when I talk about Jarrah's upcoming birthday and I realize she's turning two. It's like my time as a mother has spun into hyperdrive somehow. How could she be turning two? I've only known her a few months!

Her second birthday makes me reflective about the past year in other ways. Very soon, she will be starting preschool two days a week. In preparation, we've been "visiting" her classroom together, just for an hour or so, and I grow anxious when I see the other children, so well-trained at sitting for storytime, even speaking to me in full sentences. Granted, Jarrah is the youngest in her class, and she is coming to the party four months late, but I fret that she will be confused and frustrated, and (horrors) that not only won't she speak like the other children, she won't even understand what her teachers say. Everyone from the director of the school to her teachers to my friends have reassured me that she is going to do fine, thrive even, so I know this is one of those times when I really just need to work on me. But still!

Looking back over the year, I also have an indulgent smile for my early mom self, who was so tired and befuddled that I signed up for a music class a half-hour drive from our house because, well, we needed something to do. That same self tried every children's gym in the county as if we were touring colleges. Just this past week, Jarrah and I checked out a newly opened gym (Reader's Note: this gym shall remain nameless because, unbelievably, I have been flamed by representatives of said gym who have Googled me--who knew I was so important? :)) and as I watched Jarrah climbing up and down the vinyl blocks and scooting down the tiny slides, I was struck by the stunning notion: she is too old for this place. Wow. How did that happen? Then she was scared witless by the colorful clown who arrived to "dance" with the children. She leapt into my arms, making a moaning sound and pointing accusingly at the clown, who, I must admit, inspired a little terror in me, too. Jarrah, who flies up tall ladders, sails down steep slides, and marches up to huge dogs, was terrified of a stuffed clown. Good for you, Jarrah. :)

So, I don't think we'll be going to any more gym classes, or having our bellies stamped at Borders Babies. And while I'm a little nostalgic for the babyhood that lasted less than a year, I think it will be good for her and me to set our sights on new challenges. But that doesn't mean I won't be thinking about what once was, or never was, or what will be.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Pavlov's Baby

Lately I've gotten the idea from other blogs that I read that "You Tube" is a fun little diversion, and Jarrah has been particularly partial to videos that feature other babies. Mostly, these babies are shown laughing or dancing, but she's not fussed on those. Yesterday afternoon, however, during "The Witching Hour" between afternoon snack and Husband's Arrival Home, I discovered a little clip (evidently from America's Funniest Home Videos?) that bewitched and enchanted her. So much, in fact, that we would still be watching it now if David hadn't finally come home (we were on Round 15 at that point.)

Anyone have any theories about the appeal of this one?

Friday, December 08, 2006

You Scream; I Scream

I'm having some mommy growing pains. Before I had a child, I swore I would never yell in that way I see parents do, in situations that are obviously futile. I wondered, contemptuously, what was wrong with these people--didn't they know that their 2-year-old wasn't rational? What good was yelling?

Readers, I've become one of those yellers, and it's no good. Not because it might scar Jarrah (but ack! what if it did?) or make her tell her friends "My mommy yells a lot for no reason" (though she probably will) but because it scars ME. First, there's that bit about not wanting to have to eat my hat (see above.) Then, there's the logical part about the recipient being totally irrational (again, see above.) But the real reason it scars me is I don't WANT to yell, and sometimes, apparently, I lose control. I say "lose control" because the outbursts often surprise me, and because they sound really maniacal and pointless and desperate in the air.

I feel especially guilty because Jarrah is generally an easy child. Everyone comments on her sweet, agreeable nature. She is enthusiastic and playful most of the time. I am frequently grateful for all these traits.

But I get really furious sometimes, about stupid things. In the big picture, these things don't matter, but sometimes in the moment, I am really, really angry that I can't get Jarrah to sit still for shoes and socks when I'm already late, or because I fall over her toys with the sharp edges while I'm trying to make dinner. I find myself yelling about that aforementioned big picture, in a way that is not comprehensible to Jarrah: "Don't you know we're going to miss circle time?" "The kitchen area is off-limits for toys!"

Those aren't the serious times, though. The serious times are when I just sit there and scream "STOP IT! Stop it, stop it, stop it this instant! I can't stand another second of that noise!" At those times, I am really, really loud, and my face is all screwed up and hateful, and I pound on the table with my fists. Kind of like a two-year-old having a tantrum, now that I think about it.

David has seen me do this and is quietly shocked. It's not his personality to be hot-headed, first of all, and he's always been more rational than me. But also he hasn't been worked over for 10 hours already, or used up the patience reserve that was already low, the one that sometimes I can only replenish on odd-numbered days. I think in those moments, when Jarrah and I are both screaming, he wonders what he's gotten himself in to, sharing his home with two nutso women. But he is wise enough to keep it to himself, instead stepping in with soothing words for both of us.

Jarrah, at least for now, seems completely unaffected by my outbursts. By which I mean, not only doesn't she cry or look scared, she doesn't even seem to notice. She wavers not a whit in whatever she was doing that made me start screaming in the first place. Sometimes she even starts laughing. I dread the day that I frighten her or hurt her feelings with my loud voice. I don't want her to associate me with the bad parts of life.

Also, I wish I could stop yelling because it makes me feel small and petty and pathetic. I thought I was going to be tougher and wiser and more saintly, being a parent at my age. What happened? Readers, I don't know. I just know that by the time I realize I feel like yelling, I already have.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Say Please and Watch the Magic Happen

Today was the Families with Children from China annual Holiday Party. This year, it was celebrating their 10th anniversary in San Diego. But we were celebrating our first. December 9 is our anniversary of Match Day. On that day last year, David and I were waiting by the phone at 6 a.m. after a sleepless night for "the call," followed hard upon by "the photo." It sounds so hyperbolic to say this, but it was the day that changed our lives. By 9 a.m., we had become parents in our pajamas, and learned we'd soon be on our way to Chongqing to pick up a very round-headed baby with gigantic eyes.

We attended the FCC party last year just an hour after the Fed-Ex truck had brought us the full report on little Mei Ruo (e.g., "she gets annoyed when nanny feeds another baby, and moves closer to nanny after that," which, if you're wondering, is still the status quo), and two more pictures in which she wore a yellow dress and we could see her perfect bare feet. I remember we stuffed our photos into a plastic sheet protector, and that it was good we did because by the end of the afternoon they were covered in lo mein from the fingers of congratulatory folk who had passed them around.

This year's party had a different theme, but it was held at the same location, a place called "The Barn" in San Marcos. It was a long drive, but Jarrah was in a good mood. No sooner had we turned off the main road and glimpsed the group of red wooden buildings that include "The Barn," she began to speak urgently about "zhe doot-doot." (Lately, most of her exclamations are preceded by a vaguely French-sounding definite article, e.g. "zhe ball" and "zhe beach.") For the next few minutes, Jarrah narrated our arrival in a sort of Muppets-esque nonsense French, punctuated by occasional clear repetitions of "zhe doot-doot." After a while, I figured out that she was confusing this place with the similar-looking train yard in Poway we visited a few months ago. She couldn't wait to get out of the car seat, and couldn't even be distracted by a brief detour across the street to see "zhe naaaaay" (gorgeous race horses saying hello over the fence) so excited was she for a reprisal of "zhe doot-doot." David and I were pretty nervous that the whole day would just not deliver without said "doot-doot." I also remarked that already this was a thousand miles from last year's experience, when we simply pulled up and parked and, after showing our pics around, ate our plate of lo mein in the quiet courtyard, unperturbed by thoughts of doot-doots, real or imagined.

Because there was fruity cream cheese, Jarrah abandoned her pursuit of the doot-doot, and we caught up with friends who have returned even more recently than we have and had baby-babies to hold and show off. We would have liked to show off Jarrah, if we had been able to find her. She had a lot to see about, including covering herself in permanent marker that was intended for older kids decorating snow globes, and shoveling whole marshmallows into her mouth from the end of the buffet table.

The event culminated with Michael the Magician, and I really could not stop laughing when I saw that Jarrah had taken her place with the other children, all older, and that she was madly applauding on cue. Was it because she enjoyed the show so much? Quite the contrary, I could sense from her expression that she had no idea a) why that man was doing so much leaping around with scarves and, even more puzzling, b) why the kids were laughing and shrieking when he did. As her wonderment at this spectacle grew, her expression became more and more concentrated and brow-knit, but she didn't move. You know why? By gum, if the other kids thought this fellow was the bee's knees, she was going to dedicate herself to thinking so, too. Peer pressure is so tragic, at any age. ;)

I found myself noticing how serene the event seemed this year. Despite attendance by nearly 200 people, the time rolled along, with noshing and shmoozing and admiring rabbits in hats. Then I remembered that last year, The Barn was teeming with children, who, I had occasion to notice, are extremely unruly and prone to speaking louder than strictly necessary. They are grabby with food, and run when they could easily walk. They get overly excited by magicians and puppet shows, and laugh with too much enthusiasm. Last year, I remember that the reason David and I ate outside was that I couldn't hear myself think over the shrieking and laughing of 50 children--most of whom were once again present at this year's event.

Funny how these children seemed so restrained this year, with the most impeccable manners.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Three Bits of Bloggerel

Jarrah knows her name. It seems astounding to me, for some reason. But one day when I wasn't at home, David somehow got her to answer the question "What's your name?" with a triumphant "Jar-RUH!" She expects (and receives) applause for this response. But she won't give it often. In fact, at least 50 percent of the time she gives a vaguely annoyed, sideways glance before continuing about her business. It's as if to say, "I've already told you my name. Why can't you remember it?"


David and I have a saying about the way Jarrah eats: "Once it goes in, it's not coming out." Yes, yes, of course she has a digestive system, and it works fine. But we'd heard so much about babies and their streams of spit-up, and about how they can't wait to barf all over your house. Jarrah likes to be held upside-down, and swung to and fro, and sometimes people make a pained face and shout, "Be careful! She's going to barf!" But David and I just laugh complacently because we know better. She's not going to barf. She just doesn't barf.

Until she did, that is. A few nights ago. She had bumped her head that morning, hard, and had a goose-egg that receded gradually as the day went on. But her behavior was otherwise normal, and this was nighttime and she'd already been asleep over two hours. We heard her cry on the monitor, and it sounded a little more urgent than usual. So much so, that when David went in to comfort her, he broke with policy and picked her up. She coughed a few times and then spewed chunks all over his pajamas. It happened so fast that I was still in the kitchen, and heard his gentle "Oh dear." over the monitor. I came running. "Is she poopy?" I asked, and as he turned towards me I could see the barf on his shoulder. "Oh nooooo!" The long run had ended. Amazingly, I felt completely calm. I murmured sweet nothings, mopped some vomit off of David as he held her, and wiped Jarrah's face and hair. Her pajamas seemed clean, but just in case, I stripped them off. Now she was trembling, which made me very sad since I'd never seen her do that before. I tried to speak in soothing tones as I quickly dressed her in something warm and gently washed her face. I instructed David to get us a bottle of Liquilytes. Weirdly, I wasn't thinking of rehydration, just of what I would have wanted: to get the gross taste out of my mouth. By now, Jarrah clung to me like a starfish, her head burrowed under my chin. She accepted the bottle, and I held her in the big chair and rocked her slowly, thinking to myself that I couldn't remember the last time we'd rocked in this chair that took us months to pick out: had we EVER done it? David smiled at us from the doorway: "I'll leave you two alone." When Jarrah had finished and seemed a bit more relaxed, I laid her gently in the crib and covered her with way too many blankets; something about covering her made me feel more proactive. She was already drifting back to sleep.

Normally, I hate to get up during the night when she cries, but that night she cried two or three times, and I was through the door within 10 seconds. She didn't want much, just--as Piglet would say--to be sure of us. To be reminded we were still there, and that it was okay to sleep, and that if she barfed again, we'd handle it, as many times as necessary. By the morning, she was fine, and ate a huge breakfast.

Something about this night made me feel like a mom. You might be thinking, are you daft? You felt like a mom because you have a BABY, and one that was barfing and crying to boot. But I don't think that's why. I think it's because I knew she needed me, and unlike other times when that's been apparent, I knew I could actually help. If I couldn't totally fix the problem, I could come close. And not only did that feel like a big responsibility, it felt, for once, like one I was ready for.


I have moments when I think Jarrah might be a genius. Yes, Readers, I know that all parents have these moments. But not everybody gets to brag about it in their blog. ;) A few days ago, our friend Lisa gave us a Teletubbies costume (Tinky Winky, to be precise) she'd inherited from another mom. Jarrah is partial to the 'Tubbies, though they couldn't take the Wiggles in a fight. She spotted the costume, lying with all the other junk in our house, in the front hall. "Would you like to try it on?" I asked. "Yeh." Since Halloween, she is no longer afraid of costumes, as she got such a positive response from being Tigger. I Velcro'd the ear headpiece under her chin, and slipped the purple mittens over her hands. "Go look at yourself in the mirror." She did, and was enchanted. She stood there whispering incoherently to herself (probably, "You like divine, simply divine") and patting the mirror with her furry purple hands. Then I said a single sentence. I did not say it slowly, or extra loudly. I just said it like I'd say it to you:

"Maybe next Halloween you can be a Teletubbie."

She looked at me, then turned and walked away. I didn't think much of that, since she is prone to whims, but she went around the corner and I heard her rummaging in her "toy area." (Depending on the day, the "toy area" can take up most of the living room.) I didn't think much of this, either, assuming we'd moved on to another activity. But then she emerged, and I couldn't believe what she was holding. Triumphantly, like the Statue of Liberty with her torch, she raised it towards me: her plastic pumpkin candy holder.

"YES!" I screamed. "THAT'S WHAT YOU USE FOR HALLOWEEN! VERY GOOD!" I was a kvelling maniac. She smiled at me, with patient indulgence: "I know that, Mommy. You can be very slow."