Friday, January 30, 2009

The Case For...

Kevin, my nephew (not to be confused with Kevin, my husband), and Jennifer, my sister, came to visit us for a nice long weekend. Seeing Jennifer again—and watching Sophia, shrieking with delight, scamper up the stairs after her cousin--has tipped me in the direction of maybe, possibly having another child.

Sure, she used to sneak into my room and rifle through my things (once eating all of the Hershey’s Kisses off of a felt wall hanging I had purchased for her as a Hanukkah gift—ahhhhh, the satisfaction in watching her open that ravaged piece of felt with empty foil wrappers attached to it.) Yes, she used to grab the remote, lean back on the bed and kick me in the stomach so I couldn’t get near it (or her, for that matter). Of course she pestered me, asking the same questions over and over again, “Can I have a turn?” “How does this look?” “Will you play with me now?” Isn’t that what little sisters do?

But there were good times too—putting cold wash cloths on each others’ red tushies after dad spanked us for getting red paint on the rug, holding hands as we made our way down the staircase towards our goyisha four-foot fake fir on Christmas morning, pretending that we lived in rooms 4444 and 4443 of a grand hotel (NOT in a house with our parents), calling each other by our made-up pet names “Joanurn and Junurn” and chatting away in a mysterious language we invented as we went along.

My sister: the thorn in my side, encroacher on my only childhood, thief of parental attention, insanely cute, golden, curly-haired, wide eyed, skinny screaming child who can make me laugh until my stomach hurts, who IS my memory and the witness to my childhood, who loves me for no reason other than I am her older sister.

She left this morning, and the house feels so empty without her.

And then there is Kevin—halfway between a little boy and a teenager, still unabashedly affectionate, his mouth constantly moving, his brain constantly whirring. Kevin, who still calls my sister “momma,” who would eat the contents of my sugar bowl if he thought the deed would go unpunished, who stood in the family bathroom of the Franklin Institute and said incredulously, “25 cents for a napkin? What a rip off! I could get one for free!” Kevin who spontaneously tells me he loves me when he feels it, who patiently reads to Sophia with a fluency unmatched by most adults, and who wanted to know if there were any secret passageways in my house.

I hadn’t really thought anyone was missing from the table, until I had more at the table and, suddenly, they were gone.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Gotta Get Down

Among Sophia’s first words are: mama, dada (in that order), maw (as in “give me more”), bo (as in “read to me”), gain (as in “read it again”), moon (as in “Goodnight Moon”), mi (as in “yes, milk sounds like a fine idea”) and DOWWWNNNN (as in, “I want to go downstairs; I want to get down from my highchair; I want to get down from my car seat; I want to get down on the floor; etc.”)

This list deviates somewhat from that of the “Top 10 First Words” put out by the MacArthur Foundation. In the spirit of New Years, lets's count them down:

10. Dog (no dogs in my house)
9. YumYum (no sugar allowed…at least not for babies)
8. Bottle (nix on the bottle too)
7. Grr (bears fear me—and how does this count as a first word? When was the last time you heard grr come up in a conversation?)
6. Uhoh (granted, this is part of her repertoire—totally my fault; I love it when babies say it)
5. Hi (yes, but only when prompted)
4. Bye (if you put your coat on, or if she’s listening to “Birdie Bye Bye" on her fridge radio)
3. BaaBaa (along with, a cow says “moo,” a sheep says “baa,” three singing pigs say “lalala.”)
2. Mama (number one)
1. Dada (number two)

So if first words are all about relevancy, not frequency (which research says they are), then Kevin and I aren’t simply asking Sophie if she wants “to get down” over and over again (if anything, we’re avoiding the word at all costs)—emblematic of her personality, Sophie simply wants to get down. She’s a girl with places to go…few of which are places I want her to be.

Does this irk me?

Not in the least. From the moment she could roll over, like a teen with her first set of wheels, she was off. Whether she’s got a destination or she’s just cruising because she can, Sophia is on the move. And really, who am I to stop her?