It happened! I made Pumpkin laugh, and it was a real belly laugh!! I was singing the Sesame Street classic “Rubber Duckie, you’re the one, you make bathtime lots of fun..” and that tickled her funny bone (finally!). She wasn’t even taking a bath – it was just a random song I started singing when we were in the kitchen. Anyway, sure enough, she knows how to laugh! Thank goodness we can call off the circus clowns and parade that I’m pretty sure Daddy was starting to arrange. Of course, she’s not going to make this too easy for us because I tried the song again today and didn’t even get a chuckle, but that’s okay because now at least we know it’s possible! 🙂
Friends of ours said they knew right from the start (and we really are talking about a days-old baby) that their daughter was going to be a cook. Other friends told us that by time their son was two months old they were sure he was going to be a lawyer. Another couple said they were predicting a career as an opera singer for their three month old daughter (actually, I think everybody agreed with that one – that girl could carry a high note like you wouldn’t believe.) Are our friends nutty? Well, we used to think so. But now we realize that we have indeed joined the ranks of we-can-predict-our-child’s-profession parents. But really…. in our case it’s just so obvious… 🙂 When we walk Pumpkin in her stroller in a wooded area, she stares up at the trees the whole time. We can see her eyes move from one to the other and she seems to smile at each one, as if addressing them individually. We keep saying that she will likely be an environmentalist, or at the very least will have a real appreciation for nature. But then when we see her smiling and moving her arms and legs to music, we are equally convinced that she will be a musician. And now that her latest trick is grabbing both feet and flexing her legs in and out, it seems certain that gymnastics is in her future. As for her constantly grabbing and flexing the arches over her activity mat – definitely the actions of a future architect. And – we hear all the time from people how alert she is and that she seems to notice everything, so we’re thinking a future as a detective is a real possibility.
It is so amazing to watch her grow and learn, and I’m sure we’ll keep making predictions along the way. Of course, all we really wish for her is happiness – the rest is just details – but it is fun to think about. Who knows – maybe next week she’ll have us convinced that she’s going to be a dog- loving, museum curator who speaks three languages and likes to sail… or a fashion-forward writer who likes cooking and gardening… or a mountain climber who loves her hobbies as a singer and a juggler…or…..
Most of us have a lot to be thankful for. Sure, we can all imagine our lives could be better in this way or that, and sure it would be nice if we had more money or a fancier house. But – if you really think about it – if you have a roof over your head and family and friends to support you, things are pretty good. One of the things my husband and I feel is so important for Pumpkin to learn is that part of her responsibility as a human being on this planet is to help those who are less fortunate. And that doesn’t have to mean spending money. Spending time is a wonderful way to care for people who are lonely or in need of help. My husband and I have done volunteer work here and there throughout the years, but feel that we could both do a lot better. Since we feel that it’s much more meaningful to teach by example, we have both decided to spend at least a few hours each month doing volunteer work. We hope that if Pumpkin sees us getting involved, and then if she can participate when she is old enough, she will grow up thinking that it’s just a normal part of “what you do.” While it’s true that having a baby at home makes it easy to say we just don’t have time to think about anybody else – raising a child and being responsible for how she sees her place in this world has given us that extra push we needed to get us back out there, making a difference and setting a good example.
I am writing this not to give myself a pat on the back, because I know I have a loooong way to go before that’s going to happen – but rather with the hope that it may inspire some other parents out there to think about what they could do to teach their little ones not just to see what they can get from the world, as our culture often encourages, but rather to see how they can be part of making this world a better place for all pumpkins.
Feeling somewhat badly that Pumpkin’s main exposure to animals so far has been via her very colorful activity mat, we took her to the local zoo so she could see real animals. On her mat the giraffe is yellow with red spots, the elephant is purple with green dots, and the monkey is blue. It actually gets more complicated on the giraffe front because she has three other giraffes in the house – Sophie, who looks the most lifelike of the bunch (she’s the little squeaky teether that everybody raves about that I could not believe I was buying for $20 but it turns out was so worth it), and two other stuffed giraffes – one green and one pink – that were gifts, and as far as I’m concerned, are complicating the situation.
The monkey house was somewhat of a bust because Pumpkin was cranky (I’m guessing because the monkeys were being fed while we were there and she wasn’t). She didn’t seem to be paying any attention to us saying “look at the monkeys” and so I’m guessing that in her mind monkeys are still blue. She took a little nap on the way to the giraffe area but luckily woke up when we got there. There were eight of them and they were very active. Pumpkin perked right up and watched them so intently – it was the cutest thing. Daddy noted that she was probably wondering if her little Sophie had grown, and we laughed that she was probably afraid to go back to sleep after that for fear that when she woke up again, mommy and daddy would also be huge. Eventually we moved on to the elephants but they were not a big hit, probably because of their blah color that’s not very eye-catching to a baby. I’m sure there was no connection in her mind between the little purple elephant whose trunk she likes to chew and the giant gray creature behind the fence.
I knew it was time to go when Daddy started taking pictures of squirrels (yes, squirrels, the little fuzzy creatures that are all over our yard) and Pumpkin wasn’t even interested in the zebras (don’t babies like color contrast? does it get any better than zebra stripes?)
It was a fun trip but I’m not sure we clarified anything for Pumpkin. Then again, I’ve read a lot of baby books and I don’t recall seeing anything about confusion later in life resulting from exposure to different colored stuffed animals, or about any mix-up between stuffed animals and real animals. But – you can bet that once Pumpkin can talk, one of my first questions just to make sure will be – what color are giraffes?
Pumpkin loves the swirly cast iron coat rack we keep by our front door. I know babies like to stare at objects that have a lot of contrast, but she doesn’t just stare at it – she adores it. Really. If she’s upset about something and we’re not able to cheer her up in a more conventional way we’ll say “try the coat rack.” It makes her smile every time. All we have to do is carry her over to it and let her look at it. She just beams sunshine when she looks at this thing – she will actually stop mid-cry and smile. Just this evening we were on our way out the door to take a walk and we put a hat on her that was a handmade gift from my aunt. As this was the first time she had worn the hat, I wanted to take a photo to capture the moment, but Pumpkin, although smiley as she usually is, tends to freeze in front of the camera. So after several minutes of both of us saying “Pumpkin, smile, over here… look at daddy… smile…” with no luck, I moved the coat rack behind my husband, the photographer, and – voila – a beautiful picture of a very happy Pumpkin in her adorable hat. Now I’m wondering if I can find a dollhouse-sized version that will work the same magic to keep in my purse to treat on-the-go grumpies.