- The Lesson
- Yes, my fretting,
I could cross
The room to you
But I’ve already
Learned to walk,
So I make you
Come to me.
Let go now—
This simple lesson,
In later years
You cry out
With tight fists
“Oh, help me,
And you’ll hear
A silent voice:
I would, child,
But it’s you,
Who needs to try
--Carol Lynne Pearson
I asked Mom for a suggestion on a poem today, and she gave me this one. It's about a child learning to do new things, and so, in that way, it's appropriate. This child seems hesitant and fearful though, and Elizabeth is anything but as she clamors for more new and interesting experiences and feats of locomotion. One of these days, we'll have to teach her some healthy fear, but for now, it's fun to watch her try everything, and take all kinds of stuff in stride.
Ordinarily, a newsy post like this would be full of pictures and video, but the cord to the camera is in my suitcase in the room where Elizabeth is sleeping, and I don't want to risk waking her, so you'll have to wait. Sorry.
The plane flight was long and hard on both of us, but not as bad as I'd feared. They sent me through a special line in security for people who'll need extra help and time, and I had ZERO wait, and nobody breathing down my neck, pushing me through. Because of their open seating policy, Southwest doesn't let small children preboard, but does give them a special spot between the "A" group and the rest of the crowd, so I had a decent choice of seats. For the first and longest leg, we had an empty seat beside us, so Elizabeth could sit or crawl/climb a little. She wanted to eat the bald head of the poor guy in front of us, but he also had an empty seat in his row, so he moved over. She was pretty good, all things considered, but we were both happy to get off and stretch.
The second leg was only an hour or so, but the flight was completely full, so there was no chance of an extra seat. When I got on, I saw that there were two large men in the first row with an empty space between them. There's extra legroom in that front row, so I asked if I could sit there to let Elizabeth have some space to stand or crawl if she needed to. It was a really good decision. The men were both Grandpas (well technically, only one of them was, but the other was a Grandpa at heart even though his kids hadn't seen fit to provide him with any little ones to shower his grandfatherly affections on). They welcomed Elizabeth with open arms (literally) and held her, tickled her, let her climb all over them and try to eat their glasses, and were all around the best seatmates I could hope for.
Mom was a bit late getting to the airport, so we had to wait outside for a few minutes before she arrived (there was a slight misunderstanding about the time), but that was all right because it gave Elizabeth the first of her animal experiences for the trip. A woman with a little dog was waiting on the bench next to us, and both Elizabeth and the dog were delighted to make a new acquaintance. He licked her hand, she tried to grab his tongue and ears, and everybody was happy as clams.
The next paragraph might be T.M.I. for guys not comfortable with frank discussions of breastfeeding, so skip it if you just don't want to go there. Elizabeth is so interested in the world around her that she has a hard time eating or sleeping anywhere but her own room because there's just so much to see. We woke up at four-thirty to get on the road, and that was the last time she was willing to nurse for the whole trip. I knew that this would probably be the case, so I packed plenty of milk and baby food, but though she wasn't too disturbed by the change in the method of geting food in, MY body was. You can't warn yourself ahead of time to not bother making milk today 'cause the baby isn't gonna eat it. By the time we got home, I was so engorged, I thought I was about to explode. I warned Grandpa not to squeeze too hard when he hugged me, or I might pop. I went straight upstairs and got out the pump that I had been clever enough to bring with me, and pumped THIRTEEN ounces out of ONE SIDE!!! No wonder I was so uncomfortable! You have to go through something like that to really get the scripture in Isaiah 49:15, "Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee." Physically, you CAN'T forget a sucking child.
Along with the dog at the airport, she's also met Susan Hatch's lovebird and dog Niko, the bunnies and puppies at Golden Acres, our family's cat, lots of enormous ants, and the lobsters tank at Red Lobster.
Susan blogged about our visit here. She's a dear friend, one of the few I've kept in touch with since I've moved. We read each other's blogs, so I knew that she'd done a lot of work moving into her new home, and while I was in town, I wanted to see it. She generously invited us over for lunch, and we had a delightful couple of hours catching up and talking about china patterns. As I said above, Susan has a Lovebird -- a pretty green bird with a read head -- who did not seem to like Elizabeth. It spent most of the time with its feathers puffed to show the baby who kept trying to grab it through the cage that it was big and dangerous. 'Lizbeth thought it was pretty, but we didn't spend much time by the cage because the poor bird looked so stressed.
Niko wasn't at all intimidated by the baby though. For one thing, he's about twice her size, and for another thing, he's an energetic puppy. He was jumping up on us to spread his love around from the moment we walked in, to the minute we left, with short spaces in between to savage his dog toys (OK, I'm exaggerating. He did calm down toward the end of our visit, and also let us eat in peace). Elizabeth was thrilled that at last there was an animal that wasn't behind bars or glass, yet would not only stay in one place long enough for her to grab and pet (see our cat below), but also do fun things like licking her face and barking. She was more than happy to share her toys when Niko tried to steal them (though everyone else in the room forbade this), and after he snuck one piece of toast from her hand, she graciously offered him another. She liked his jingly dog tags, and the feel of his fur when he stood still and let her pet him. We got some good pictures and video, which I'll post when I can download the pictures from my camera.
Our family cat, Kitty, is not a child-friendly animal. When I was younger, I tried to get her to sleep in my bed, but she never would submit to my loving kindness. Now, when she's old and grumpy, she's even less likely to sit still for little fingers to grab at her fur. Elizabeth will spot her from the living room, taking a nap on her favorite bit of computer room floor, and set out to catch the Kitty. The baby crawls over, making the difficult shift from carpet to slippery Pergo, and back to carpet again. As the lumbering child approaches, the cat hears her coming and wakes up. She doesn't want to move from her spot, so she sits there, defiantly hoping that the dreaded baby will get tired before she makes it the whole ten or twelve feet across the floor. Her breathing becomes quicker and quicker as Elizabeth gets closer and closer. Finally, when Elizabeth is about 18 inches away, and is so close that she can taste victory at last, the cat stands up and walks slooooowwwwly away, shooting dirty looks at the baby and all the adults that aren't protecting her from such indignities.
The best Elizabeth was able to get was one of Kitty's patented fuzzy belly taunts. We went downstairs and found the cat waiting at the basement door, wanting to be let out. I opened the sliding glass door a couple of inches and she slipped out onto the back patio. I closed the door, and let Elizabeth stand and bang on it as the cat lay down on the cement and rolled onto her back to show off the soft fuzziness of her belly as if to say, "I know what you want, here it is, so tempting to rub, but you can't have it. I'll be off like a shot the moment you open that door again." The cat even had the nerve to watch and wait till she was sure we were watching before she did it. Then she walked back and forth for a bit to tease the baby some more before going off after some poor small animal in Mom's garden (she is getting slower, though. Daddy has seen chipmunks coming back after fifteen years, and he had to buy a trap to get the mice that were eating the potatoes under the kitchen sink).
We've been going to the Golden Acres nursing home to visit Grandma Fawnie, and Elizabeth has been a big hit with not only Grandma (I'll make a separate post about our visits with her), but the staff and other residents as well. They have bunnies and puppies to brighten the lives of the residents (and Elizabeth loves to look at them as we go in and out the front doors), but they don't often get babies in there. Everybody wants to hold her, including very old, very frail looking old grandmothers. I try to be as generous as Elizabeth is with her room brightening smiles, but it's hard to hand a squirming 20 pound baby over to somebody who looks like they could be knocked over with a feather, and is already walking with a cane or sitting in a wheelchair. So far, she hasn't done any damage to anybody, though she has grabbed plenty of glasses, noses, and ID badges, and stolen the hearts of all the nurses. I think I may look for a nursing home in Torrance to take her to during visiting hours, so she can continue to make people happy with her smile and her winning personality.
We don't have stairs at home in Torrance (well, we do have stairs to get in to the house, but Elizabeth is always carried up and down them and I don't intend to change that anytime soon, since there are spiders living there) so when we came here, I was a little worried about Elizabeth crawling over and falling down them. We've been careful about where we let her crawl, and she's slow enough that with four adults watching her all the time, she doesn't have a chance to make a break for it. While Daddy was taking a turn with her though, he decided to introduce her to the stairs under controlled conditions. She likes to crawl and climb and stand up next to things, so she was pleased to find this nice new giant plaything. With her Grandpa placing her feet, she provided the muscle power and climbed five or six stairs. I was very impressed, but even more impressed a few days later when we were down in Oberlin at Bead Paradise. Mom and I took turns entertaining Elizabeth and looking at beads, and found that the safest place for her in the store was the carpeted stairway that had NO trays of beads on it. Without any prompting or foot-placing at all, she climbed first one stair, then another and another. Before we knew it, she was on the landing four stairs up! I got some video -- which I'll post later -- though it wasn't very steady or well framed because it's hard to stand far enough away to take decent video when you want to keep a hand on the baby's bum to be there in case she falls. We also went over to O.H.I.O. (the historical society where Mom and I used to work), and saw our old friends Mary Anne and Pat, and Elizabeth even climbed the horribly steep hard wooden stairs of the Monroe House.
Of all the amazing things that Elizabeth has experienced and done over the last week, the most amazing thing happened today. She was crawling around on the floor while Mom was sewing, and I was sitting in the doorway so she wouldn't go out the door an over the balcony (Mom has moved the sewing machine upstairs to the small bedroom I think of as Steve's Room). Elizabeth crawled over to my knees and started pulling herself up on them a she often does. Then she stuck her bottom in the air with her hands on my knees -- again this is something she does all the time trying to stand up. The amazing thing is that this time, instead of getting frustrated and sitting back down, or complaining till Mama held her hands to help her up, she just did it. She stood up all by herself! She stood there, a little hunched over, balancing, holding on to nothing but the black poodle in her arms, for about ten seconds -- long enough for me to say, "Mom! Look at her! Look at her!" Then she tipped forward into my arms and got showered with praise and kisses. She's been doing pretty well with standing next to things and has figured out how to move her feet to walk along an edge, but I thought it would be another couple of weeks before she'd stand unsupported, and even longer before she'd stand UP unsupported! My sweet little baby is growing up! :) My sweet little baby is growing up. :( It's an amazing thing.