Friday, July 28, 2006

Fourteen Months Old

It is high summer now. The sun comes up blazing and the air vibrates with cicada song. Pearl is fourteen months old and we've been having lots of fun doing warm weather things.

Summer Girl


We've been to the lake a few times now. Pearl enjoys splashing and walking in the water a lot, and after a while will even relax her body and let it float. I enjoy it too, seeing her learn to play in the water, her delight in such a large amount of water to try to lick up.

Walking in the Water


We got to a playgroup at a local park on Thursday mornings, and Pearl loves toddling after the older kids, climbing on the jungle gyms, digging in the sand, and of course swinging before it gets too hot. We go to the park in the evening with Daddy some days, too.

Toes in the Sand


So we have been having fun, but this was not as idyllic a month as last month was. Part of this is because Pearl has cut not one, but two new teeth this month, bringing the total to a whopping six chompers. Teething always interferes with her sleep and makes life a little harder for her in various ways (and me, by proxy).

The other reason this fourteenth month has been a trying one is that Pearl has really begun communicating her will, and also communicating her displeasure when she isn't met with what she wants. She will come to me with a book and cry when I do not read it to her, or react similarly when something she isn't supposed to have is taken away from her. Now that her wants are no longer necessarily what she needs, it is more difficult for me to know how to respond. Is it ok if I don't respond to her the same way every time? Is it best? Should I comfort her when she cries over things not going her way, or just distract her? I do not want to give her the impression that she can have whatever she wants when she wants it; nor to I want her to think that her attempts to communicate her desires are pointless. I don't know what I'm doing. I feel like I'm stuck at sea without a map, but I'm not really sure I need a map. Maybe I just need to pick a direction and go.

This new development marks a change in our relationship. For months, once she was an older baby, I felt like we were a single unit as we shared sleep, food, the activities we did throughout the day. I could read her well and she was in tune with me too. That is all still pretty much true, but it's subtly different now. Less oneness, leaning more toward togetherness.

Angry


So that is the cloud in our sky this month.

It amuses me to no end to see her imitating us do everyday things - scrub at her belly with a washcloth in the shower, look in her mirror and brush her hair, try to put a shirt on, clumsily bring a spoon to her mouth. She loves to brush her teeth and insists upon it every time she is in the bathroom.

We have a bedtime routine that she has really taken to. We change her into a tee shirt and night time diaper, then there are usually a few books read. Then I nurse her in bed. Sometimes that puts her right to sleep, if she's really tired, but most nights she stops nursing and reaches her arms out for Daddy to bounce her in his arms, then rock in the rocking chair, and she is out like a light. She has a similar routine for falling asleep for her one nap a day, though without the Daddy, and she is more likely to fall asleep during nursing then.

She has nursed a ton this month! She is eating more solid food too, but I was surprised at the increase in milk intake. She still shows signs of reflux when I eat dairy so I avoid that still, though she doesn't scream in pain like she did in her early days.

She knows a few more signs now: fan, bite, and she's almost got airplane down. She'll present her face for a kiss if I ask, then say her approximation of "kiss". She also brings her stuffed toys over for a kiss, too. When she's happy she'll do this really funny little fake laugh. It's cute.

Pearl is very cute in general. It's fun to have a little baby toddler wandering around with me from room to room with me as we go about our day, delightful to hear her voice run through a string of unintelligible sounds. I often have to scoop her up and cover her little face with smooches. She's pretty much irresistible!

Most Recent Spaghetti Face, Complete with Hairdo

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9 Comments:

Blogger Pusillanimous Wanker said...

"Should I comfort her when she cries over things not going her way, or just distract her?"

If by "not going her way" you mean "doing things outside the boundaries I have established", then redirect her. I think comforting her when she is (and will be for a long time) pushing limits only reinforces defiance. I know small children don't think logically, but her idea may be "I know what mom will not allow, but I want it anyway. By persistantly protesting I will either get what I want, or a hug and cuddle with mom."

Win-win, in other words. If she gets all or nothing, the protests should die down.

This has been my two cents as a psyc major. I have no kids. I have trained several dogs, though. Ahem. Cough.

6:20 PM  
Blogger Pusillanimous Wanker said...

By the way, you are either an incredible art photographer, or take a bazzilion pictures and then have an incredible eye for what works. Either way, except for today's second one, I am blown away by your photography.

6:28 PM  
Blogger fuzzypeach said...

Thanks PW, I would say I am somewhere between the two;)

8:05 PM  
Anonymous Mama C-ta said...

What a perfect pic to end with.

I feel the exact same way, I don't know what I'm doing or how to deal w/these new frustrations Julian is showing. Am I creating a monster by giving in? Do I distract? What the hell do I do???

I wish we lived close, I know Julian would love to be Pear's playmate!

3:49 AM  
Blogger sarahgrace said...

Oh, how I know how you feel...when your cuddly little "can do no wrong" baby suddenly starts getting an independent streak. I'd say if her demands are reasonable, than meet them, if they're not say no. Every time is different, and that's where your mommy intuition comes in. But I know it's hard and frustrating...I'm there with my 16 month old right now.

Beautiful pics, btw!

9:50 AM  
Blogger doow said...

Oh what a photo to save 'til last - hilarious!

6:56 AM  
Anonymous S said...

Beautiful pictures as always. I love her sitting there like a buddha, with her hair flying about and food spread all over the place. She looks so content, and rightfully so! When is it that we start getting so uptight about messes?

"Less oneness, leaning more toward togetherness." What an apt way to describe this forward journey.

M has also started showing her displeasure when she doesn't get to do what she wants. I grew up in a family where I wasn't ever allowed to be angry or mad or sad, so I've always felt distant from and confused about my emotions. I am determined I won't do this to M. I always try to make room for her feelings, even if I find them annoying or inconvenient, or don't necessarily agree with them. My approach is to reflect back to her the way she is feeling (not agree, just understand and reflect). If she starts crying when I take a book away (because it's time for nap, she's chewing it to bits, etc.), I'll say something like, "You're very upset that I took your book. I can understand why you would feel that way ... playing with books is fun." I don't give the book back, but I consider it okay and age appropriate for her to be upset that I took it away. So I don't try to distract her or get her to stop being upset. I just acknowledge her feelings and reflect them back -- this lets her know that I hear and see her, that she exists, that she is okay just the way she is. I know of several books that discuss parenting in this manner. I will try to come back later and post the titles in case you're interested in reading a better description than I'm able to string together at this late hour ...

8:59 PM  
Blogger fuzzypeach said...

S, I would indeed be interested in those titles!

6:29 AM  
Anonymous S said...

Okay, here are two books I know of:

Between Parent and Child by Dr. Haim G. Ginott

This was originally written in 1965, and it shows in a lot of the examples they give. But I still felt like it is a very informative book (and it isn't ridiculously long either). It's my understanding that Alfie Kohn (kind of the Dr. Sears of Gentle Discipline) based his work on Ginott. I haven't read any of Kohn's stuff yet, but it's high on my list, so you might want to check that out too. Here is a link to an online article he wrote that I thought was very interesting.

The second book is Giving The Love That Heals by Harville Hendrix and Helen Hunt (no, not THAT Helen Hunt, lol). I have mixed feelings about this book. I am familiar with the authors' book on couples and attended a workshop based on their theory, so am well-versed with many of the concepts in this book. For that reason, I may find it somewhat boring and repitious. Or, perhaps it's because it really needed a better editor. Or maybe because their stuff is sometimes presented in a rather hokey manner, although it makes it no less relevant. I still feel it contains lots of valuable information, and it expands on the concepts in the above book by discussing the idea that parents can use strong reactions they have towards their children as flags that this may be an issue they need to work on THEMSELVES. Again, I'm familiar with this idea from their other work, so this is going back to the library today only half read. I would still recommend it if you can find it in your library, however, and if it's dull and intolerable, then you can send it back!

I hope this helps. The one other thing I always try to keep in mind while dealing with my daughter is that emotions are never "wrong" or "bad". So for example: anger is okay, hitting is not. I try to separate the emotion from the action, and if the action is inappropriate then try to help her find a more appropriate way of expressing herself. But I try to never stifle her emotions.

And when I explain myself to her (e.g., I have to take something away because she's chewing on it), I don't say "I'm taking this away because you won't stop chewing on it." Chewing on things is a totally age-appropriate behavior for a 12 month old, so it's foolish to expect something else from her. When I find myself in that situation, *I* am the person to blame because I let her have something she shouldn't have. So I don't want her to feel like she is to blame, or to shame her in anyway for doing something that's natural to her. So in those situations, I try never to use the word "you" in my reason. Instead I'll say something like, "I'm taking this away because it's not safe to chew on."

And I think "should" is a word that, ahem, should be banned from my vocabulary.

It isn't always easy ...

6:33 AM  

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