We need a new vocabulary to talk about babies.
It makes me crazy that people talk about babies being good or bad, and it’s not as if people are making character judgments, but that’s just what we say, and it makes no sense. It’s just luck.
When I brought Zeke to Zoe’s school recently for a reading celebration, a teacher said, “he’s so well-behaved!” as if I had trained him or he had chosen to be especially quiet and cute during the activity. Totally luck.
I think one of the reasons the limited language irritates me is that I am paranoid about the implied appraisal I fear in everyone’s probably innocuous conversation. One of the first questions people ask when they see Zeke is “is he sleeping well?”
The answer is no. He does not sleep well. He sleeps very lightly and, although he slept through the night for a glorious three weeks this summer, he has not done so since. I cannot get him to nap, although others can, unless I drive him to the airport. He wakes himself up a lot. And therefore wakes us up a lot. But this is just a fact. It has nothing to do with Zeke’s intellect or spirit or soul or character in any way. From what I understand, many babies do not sleep well. It’s a well-known characteristic of babies. They are often awake.
Of course it is paradoxical that I want to take pride in things that are going well with Zeke’s development, all of which are equally unrelated to merit. For example, he loves to eat and he has eaten all kinds of food (all pureed of course, except for those little puffs which he grabs and desperately tries to put in his mouth but they just adhere to his palm with slobber and I have to pry them off and place them on his lips). Since I’ve discovered these awesome little pouches of baby food, he’s eaten spinach and pumpkin and lentils and blueberries and quinoa and eggplant in addition to the usual babyfood suspects. He devours ALL OF IT with relish. (No, we don’t serve him relish). And I am thankful for his appetite and that so far he hasn’t been allergic to anything.
He exercises his abs with vigor. He really wants to sit up. He can sit up supported pretty well and unsupported for about a second. He’s really working on it. He can also scoot and rotate pretty well. I remember Zoe doing this too. It’s kind of amazing to not be able to crawl but somehow move yourself from one location to another in the crib or on the floor.
Zeke is talkative. He babbles in a way that sometimes sounds startlingly like words. He loves it when you imitate what he says, and he enjoys his sister repeating words such as splash and spleen over and over in different tones of voice. We are determined to sign with him, and so far we’ve mostly done milk. But I think he recognizes it. When I sign milk he divebombs my shirt. We’re working on the signs for more and all done. If nothing else, he smiles at the sign for all done. We’re also working on high fiving. Why this is an important first trick for babies, I’m not sure, but it’s fun to tackle.
Zeke is big. At his six-month checkup yesterday the nurse exclaimed, “he’s as big as some two-year-olds!” Whoa. I’m not sure about that, but he’s a substantive fellow. And a wiggly one. It is increasingly difficult to change his diaper because he wants to revolve while you’re doing it. He likes to tap, pat, whack, and smack things. Especially wood and hard surfaces. Also people. He also likes to chew on everything. I bought a teething bling necklace to keep his mouth entertained and protect my jewelry, and Zeke loves it.
Zeke adores his sister, and she him. His face lights up when hers comes into view. Thank goodness she is kind to him and entertains him sometimes and wants to hold him. She’s still not quite coordinated enough to hold him without us holding our breaths, but we’re all working on that.
At one of his post-op appointments, he smiled at the nurse who was taking his vitals and took hold of her finger in an unusually gentle and inquisitive way. She was charmed and told me how special he was. Of course, we think so, but it’s always flattering to hear someone else say so too. That’s a word I appreciate.