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.

  1. Peanut is outrageously adorable! I like that she’s, um, resolute in her preferences, in your doctor’s professional opinion.

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