Archive for October, 2010|Monthly archive page

The Peanut Gallery

In Peanut, Tolkien on October 28, 2010 at 7:52 pm

My husband Tolkien (totally his real name) and I have had our irrepressible daughter, the Peanut (also totally her real name), in our lives for nearly 14 months.  It is hard to believe.  I still feel like someone will accuse me of lying when I introduce myself as “Peanut’s mom.”  It reminds me of the months it took for me to get used to being “Tolkien’s wife.”  It always amazes me to think about how far we have come since Peanut was born, about how many stages we’ve already been through, and yet whenever anyone asks “Can you believe it’s been over a year already?” I have to answer yes.  I do.  It definitely feels like a long time.  All that sleep deprivation did not make those months seem shorter.

Like all new parents, we’ve found it fascinating to see how much personality a little baby can have, and how early they can show it.  I mean, let’s be honest here, do they even count as full humans before kindergarten?  Here is the answer I have discovered, and I am imparting this unique knowledge to you free of charge: YES.  (You’re welcome.) 

P has been a character pretty much since she was born.  She’s loud, excitable, and loves a party.  While we simply assumed that because she was a baby she would get cranky, tired and anxious around crowds, P astonished us by ratcheting up the personality around a raucous group of new people the first time we took her to a big event.  Even though she has some stranger anxiety like most babies, in that setting she was dishing out toothless grins and holding out her arms to be held every which way we turned.  (Really, it became somewhat embarrassing.  She was holding out her arms to other women who were already holding their own babies, with the solid comfortable assurance that “Of course you would drop your own kid to hold me — I am, after all, THE PEANUT.”  I whispered to her that she needed to be careful if she didn’t want to provoke one of those other babies into beating her up at the kiddie table.)  I didn’t know that babies could be extroverts, but I think P is in the purest sense — she truly seems to derive energy from being around a lot of other people.  My mother-in-law called her an adrenaline junkie, and I think that’s true.   How can that be??  She’s not quite 14 months old!  She barely has self-awareness!

I don’t know where she gets it.  As much as P appears to be extroverted, her dad T is a classic well-adjusted introvert.  He enjoys socializing and spending time with others, and looks forward to it, but at the end of the day he recharges best with alone time.  (Just T and his hobbit hole.)  (I don’t know anything about the real Tolkien, do hobbits live in holes?  I should ask T.)   People assume that I’m an extrovert because I can be boisterous myself, so they always say P gets her personality from me, but I don’t think she does.  I like people and I like action, but I’m not sure I’m such an extrovert at heart.  Remember the Myers-Briggs test?  I took that thing something like eight times in college, and my result switched back and forth between an E (extraversion) and an I (introversion) pretty equally.  I love to go out, and I love to stay in.   P, on the other hand, seems to just love going out (we are so dreading the teenage years.  She’s not going to be allowed to go anywhere, and I am so not kidding.)  I never thought a baby could get bored, but I definitely got the sense even very early on, at just a few weeks old, that she was actually bored on days that just she and I hung out at home during my maternity leave.  So since then I’ve tried to plan interesting activities on days that I’m not working (which is more challenging than I expected because what can a not-quite-mobile being DO?) so she doesn’t become a big fat cranky-pants.

I’m lucky to work part-time so I have more opportunity to be with P, particularly because T is in a stage of his career where he is working 80+ hours a week, but man, it’s hard too!  Now I understand why, once they get a taste of it, everyone says they have the utmost respect for stay-at-home-moms.  (Not that I didn’t, before I had a child, it’s just that now I have actual empathy more than just some vague sense that it’s not the cushiest of jobs.)  P is particularly high-maintenance.  We never really knew if we could claim that, her being our only baby, with us having nothing to compare her to.  But the observations of outsiders, including her new pediatrician who was in the room with us for five minutes, and our observations of other kiddos has led us to this conclusion.  What Peanut wants, Peanut wants NOW.  Not two minutes from now, NOW, people.  She’s not quite old enough to throw tantrums yet, but she definitely makes her displeasure known.  And she absolutely never wants to be left to play on her own, ever.  The staff at the two daycares in two different states that she has attended both noticed that.  It’s kind of amusing, except when you’ve worked a 10-hour day on 2 hours of sleep, when it becomes decidedly … not.  Although this is a really fun age, I have to admit that both T and I are secretly looking forward to the day when P can read a book herself and I can finally take that bathroom break I’ll have been putting off for 4 years by then. 

P was a very bad sleeper, often waking up 10-12 times between 11 PM and 5 AM, leading T and I to frightening levels of sleep deprivation.  For months, I truly thought I was going to get into a car accident every day I had to drive to work.  She finally started sleeping through the night at 7 months (after we tried literally every method we could find and had to give in and do cry-it-out, which to our attachment-parenting chagrin worked like a charm) and can I just tell you, LIFE in general looks so much better now that we’re all fairly regularly getting at least some sleep each night.  (She still wakes up at night, but puts herself right back to sleep, but not without waking us up via the baby monitor.)  So I’m now much more able to be philosophical about our baby girl and her outsize personality.  P may be loud, and she may be high-maintenance, and she may be none-too-eager to reach her motor milestones because WHY BOTHER WHEN THERE ARE SO MANY ABLE-BODIED PEOPLE AROUND TO TRANSPORT ME, and my vertebral discs may be groaning with the heft of her, but she is also incredibly smiley, very snuggly, regularly hilarious (she silently gazes at me with wise-beyond-her-years pity when I try to imitate her babbling) and possesses our favourite cheeks to kiss in the whole wide world.



In Writing on October 11, 2010 at 9:08 pm

Joining the blogosphere is an interesting thing.  I’ve been standing here at the water’s edge for ages, dipping a toe in now and again, changing my mind and heading for the refreshment counter while I watch others splash away, then coming back and debating again.  At first it seemed to me that the only people who had blogs that anyone actually read were strangers with well-paid publicists, so what was I really missing.  But as the years went on, more and more people I personally knew were pulling on swimcaps to play Marco Polo in the pool.  These days, I enjoy reading not only the blogs by strangers who now seem like friends, but also the blogs by my actual real-life friends who often share minutiae for which our real lives don’t always allow time.  And instead of doing all the taking, it’s about time I put some minutiae out there too, don’t you think?

I have always loved to write, and for most of my childhood and teenage years, being a “writer” was a huge part of my identity.  Writing started to get pushed to the back burner in college when more ambitious career goals demanded all my time and energy, and it stayed that way for a good long while.  Now I finally feel like I have the option to devote a little time to dusting off that rusty skill and reclaiming that part of myself that meant so much to me way back when.  If for nothing else, this blog will be a useful method of exercising that flabby part of my brain.  Drop down and give me fifty, brain!

The issue of anonymity, however, is a tough one.  Anyone reading this blog will most likely be reading it because they know me, and thus, there’s nothing I need to hide from you.  However, I know this isn’t the equivalent of my pink polka-dotted 3rd-grade diary under my mattress (“I hate eggplant SOOOOOOOO much!”) and that there is potential for strangers to stumble upon my site.  (Welcome, strangers!  If you are out there, I’m glad you’re here! ) However, given the nature of my job, and in order to protect my family/friends from any nutcases out there, I won’t be sharing too many personal details, at least for now.  I’ve already re-written this post a million times, wondering if I’ve revealed too much (“Can people figure out what year I graduated from college?  That I can’t swim?  That I speak English?  CRAP!”)

Turns out it’s really true.  Thoughts, opinions, dreams, latent paranoia?  There’s much more where that came from.