On a recent visit with Pumpkin’s grandmother, “Mimi,” we drove the car past the scene of an accident where there were several fire engines and ambulances. Mimi said, “holy cow!” and Pumpkin looked all around and said, “where’s the cow?” She heard us all laughing and it must have registered in her mind that it was funny because a few more times that weekend she looked around with a big smile on her face and asked, “where’s the cow?” 🙂 It’s funny how many expressions we use without thinking about the actual meaning of the words until there’s a two year old listening.
Pumpkin is not even eleven months old yet and I can say with complete certainty that there is no way that she will change in any other year of her life as much as she has the first year. In just eleven months she has grown from a tiny little peanut who slept all day and couldn’t hold up her head into a strong-willed, babbling, walking, observant, funny, playful little person who knows what she wants, knows who her parents are, waves and claps for everybody, and moves furniture around. Yes, my daughter is fanatical about furniture placement. She apparently decided that she didn’t like the location of the (large, heavy, wooden) toy chest in her playroom, so she slid it across the room and turned it 180 degrees. I’ve seen her at daycare sliding chairs across the room. Just the other day when I dropped her off she started in with the chairs and one of the teachers said “there she goes, rearranging the furniture again.” Last week I noticed that her crib at daycare was in a different location, and none of the others had moved. I didn’t even bother to ask what had happened. Knowing Pumpkin, she probably felt there was a problem in one of the adjacent cribs (i.e. a snoring baby, somebody who tried to take her snack….that sort of thing) and at the first opportunity she dragged her crib a few feet away to prove a point. Who knew eleven months ago that she would be doing all these things?? And who knew I’d be walking around the house, pushing on all of our furniture to see how heavy it is to make sure we don’t have to worry about Pumpkin rearranging our living room?
Pumpkin goes to daycare two days a week and the other day when I picked her up one of the teacher’s aides was changing her diaper. I asked if she squirms around on the table when they change her. She said no, and I commented “that’s strange – I had to move her changing pad from the top of the dresser to the floor because she moves around so much when I change her.” The head teacher heard the conversation and said “well they all have home behavior and then there’s school behavior and often they’re different.” Hmm… so why exactly then is she more difficult to handle with me? Is it because she sees the daycare teachers more as authority figures because she doesn’t know them as well? Or because she knows I love her unconditionally so it’s her chance to express herself? Or is it because she knows we have fun together and she thinks that I’ll think it’s funny if she crawls off at lightening speed before I can put a diaper back on her? (grrrr… it was funny the first time but not so much now) I’ll bet she doesn’t bite them either. (They used to feel like sweet kisses to me but then she grew teeth :)). And she probably doesn’t try to pull their hair. Gosh, what am I doing wrong? Well at least I know that her most amazing, loving hugs are reserved for mommy and daddy, so I guess I can live with the rest.
We’ve passed the six month mark so we’re onto solid foods for the little munchkin! So far we’ve gone orange and tried carrots, sweet potatoes and squash. The first two selections didn’t go too well (those meals were the first time we’ve seen her make a “what the $#@*! is this?!” face) but she seemed somewhat interested in the squash. After a few days of squash we’ll move onto something green and see how that color goes. I have green beans and peas in the queue. I’m starting to hint to my husband that I need a food processor for Christmas, since I hear all the time how easy it is to make the baby food. I’ve never been much of a cook, but I think I should be able to handle meals that have only one ingredient. Learning about a baby’s nutritional needs and watching this little pumpkin eat, grow and thrive is making me so much more aware of the importance of good, healthy food. I’m a long way from going completely organic and don’t plan to start making all of my food from scratch anytime soon, but when I shop now I find myself thinking if I wouldn’t give it to my child, why am I buying it for myself? Usually that does the trick, and I’ve actually lost a few pounds over the past few weeks… although somehow a bag of Oreos made its way home in one of my grocery bags today so I guess I’m still easing into a healthy food routine. 🙂
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.