Another month has come and gone, so I need to try to get some of Maddie’s current developments down for posterity.
While every moment of her life has been special in its own way1, I recently realized that we have entered yet another glorious stage that I want to treasure forever and sometimes wish I could pause in time.
Without my noticing it, Maddie has become a full-fledged little girl.2 She spends her days exploring her environment by engaging all her senses. She crawls around and over and through. She tries to climb—on to a chair or couch, up and down a set of stairs. She engages those around her—saying hello to strangers3, giving five, giving fist bumps, and waving wildly.
She is more often than not jabbering to herself in a vaguely Slavic-sounding tongue and increases her actively understood vocabulary every day—both in terms of what she can begin to emulate and what she clearly understands that people around her are saying.
If you pose a question to her these days, she will either nod affirmatively4 or say “No…” in this rising sing-song voice, whether she actually means no or not. For example, on a recent weekend Theresa asked Maddie, “Do you like having both parents around?” She replied, “No….”
She also has enhanced her ability to ask for things. In addition to doing sign language for “more,” she adds an urgent “nah nah” sound that she just came up with on her own. We have no idea what it means to her or where she got it from, but she will say it repeatedly and with increasing feeling if her request for more food, another book, or the continuation of a pleasing activity is not met with enough haste. She has also started randomly screaming for things, but we’re trying to nip that in the bud as much as we can. I can’t overstate the catch-22 frustration of parenting a small person who has specific wants but lacks the ability to fully articulate them. Sometimes she thinks screaming is her only recourse. Sometimes I think it’s mine, too.
At Mass this past weekend, we made the mistake of sitting in the third pew from the front. Maddie—blissfully unaware of any social norms to modify her behavior in church—was actually pretty well-behaved, but engaged in some of her regular social behavior that is less appropriate during Mass. When songs would end, she would yell “Aaaaaah,” her standard indication that she wants the music to continue, usually employed during the short space of silence between songs on an album. The priest pulled out his guitar to open the homily and performed a couple verses from a Christmas song. When he was done, Maddie did her “nah nah” sound for more, as she wanted him to keep going with the song. We had to distract her with a Cheerio in order for her to stop. At other points and for no particular reason, she would just yell “Bye byeeeee!” and wave at someone in another pew.
The highlight for me was during the Eucharistic prayer, however, when Maddie took the opportunity of everyone’s silent praying to whip out her favorite chorus—“Barbara Ann” by the Beach Boys. While she doesn’t know many of the lyrics, she can perfectly hit the “Ba Ba Ba” notes and does it over and over again until I join in.5 Maddie is constantly surprising me with the way she interacts with the world and it’s downright delightful to watch. Hopefully the rest of the parish appreciates it as much as I do…
On the movement front, Maddie is still not walking yet, but she has very recently started standing up without holding on to anything—a serious point of pride for her. When she does it, she starts hilariously flailing her arms around to maintain her balance while excitedly laughing as we clap and encourage her. She then falls on to her bottom and gets up again to repeat the experiment.
One time, she was doing this while Theresa was in another room, so her excited laughs were punctuated by calls for “Maaaa!” so that Theresa wouldn’t miss the opportunity to clap for Maddie’s spectacular show of daring physical feats.
She has recently become more attached to baby dolls, and is showing them real affection by offering unbidden hugs and kisses. This bodes well for baby #2. Maddie has also mastered the art of kissing other people on the cheek, and if you ask her to kiss one person, she won’t stop until she’s kissed everyone in the room. This has become a new ritual whenever we leave a location and are saying goodbye to people. Rather than simply waving, she now makes the kissing sound and wants to go around doling them out.
She also loves to play Patty Cake, and makes a “Baa baa!” sound while clapping her hands to indicate that she wants to see the routine. She will also grab her baby dolls’ hands or feet and make the Patty Cake sound while clapping them together, just like we do to her. The mimicry of doing things to her baby that we do to her continues in hilarious ways. I told her to put her baby to sleep, so she put the baby on the ground, gently pushed on it and then leaned in close to the baby’s face and made a shushing sound.
We also accidentally6 taught her to say “butt” when we are changing her. Now sometimes when we say we’re going to change her diaper, she yells “Butt!” and smiles. Once we actually start changing her, she can’t seem to stop saying it. I’m sure my Father of the Year Award is in the mail.
It’s amazing how much she picks up on, and I am overcome by how intelligent she seems to be. That pride falls away a bit when she then calls for Theresa by yelling “Daaaa.” I always say, “Daddy’s right here. Do you want Mom?” and then she makes the switch to “Maaaa!” The Harvard admission scouts are really going to be put off by this, Maddie.
Speaking of “Maaaa,” we are now in the 18th week of pregnancy with baby #2 and Theresa is starting to finally leave morning sickness in the rearview mirror. I type this while knocking on a giant piece of wood, as we seem to always pronounce the death of morning sickness and then it rears its nauseated head once again. Suffice to say, this pregnancy has been easier than the first in that regard, even if it still hasn’t been awesome.
The baby is beginning to show on Theresa’s belly, and we swear we both felt the baby move for the first time the other night when Theresa was lying down in bed. Maybe we have another fetus who likes nighttime dance parties as much as Maddie did. We will soon have our ultrasound to reveal the gender7, and we look forward to the pregnancy feeling all the more real with that knowledge.
As Maddie continues to learn, mature and communicate, it’s becoming even more fun to picture her as a big sister and think about how she will react to the new creature we will bring home from the hospital to join her little kingdom. The first half of this pregnancy is flying by8, so I know #2 will be here before we know it. It’s going to be exhausting, but I can already imagine the fun, hilarity and sweetness that will ensue. Fatherhood rocks!
- Some more sleep-deprived than others
- I’ve said this before, but this time she really is a little girl!
- repeatedly…even if they have already responded once
- usually when she means yes
- This is my own fault, as I have been singing that song to her for the majority of her life, ever since she first learned how to say “ba.”
- OK, not really
- Yes, we are finding out again!
- probably because we have Maddie here to distract us…