On the morning of October 21, 2019, I sit in the semi-darkness of dawn and berate myself that if I don’t start Beatrice’s six-month post now–and it is already over two weeks late–I may not write it at all.
Outside the wind blows eagerly through the branches of the maple trees; they are still covered in leaves which are in various stages of their transformation from green to orange and red. It reminds me that, a little over six months ago, Beatrice was born just as the leaves were beginning to sprout and unfurl. On the day we brought her home it seemed that every tree and bush was in flower.
On that day she was only a little lump of baby, “like a potato,” Ephraim would say, repeating of her what we have said of him as a newborn. These days she is not nearly as passive. She’s rather demanding, actually, though in a sweet, babyish sort of way.
She usually wakes me in the morning with an impressive set of vocal exercises. Though she doesn’t sleep in our room at night anymore (she was exiled due to those self-same vocals, only practiced in the dead of night versus the early morning). When I come, stumbling, to pick her up and feed her, she is so delighted to see me that she kicks both feet so hard she nearly scootches the pack-n-play along the floor with the force of it. I bring her back to our room to feed her, then we lay in bed a bit as she continues to practice her vocal range until Daddy also wakes and pays attention to her.
Once he’s up, she’s usually laughing. I think he can just look at her to make her laugh. Actually, almost anybody can–the girl loves to laugh. Most of her laughter is a deep-chested guffaw, but if she’s really tickled, she slips into this falsetto giggle that sounds exactly like the Pillsbury Doughboy, only more ecstatic and maniacal.
She’s learning to sit up this month, though she’s a little slow at it, as she’s given to slouching and her bottom is rather egg-shaped. If you put her on your lap, she would much rather be up on her knees than sitting on her backside. Her sitting difficulties are exacerbated by her tendency to reach for whatever toy or object it completely out of her reach instead of the pleasant array of plaything that Mama has set right in front of her. This, of course, results in her falling over and flailing about on her side and crying, though because she’s fallen or because she still can’t reach the thing, I’m not sure.
She doesn’t crawl yet, but she’s very adept at spinning herself around on her belly. She likes to be on her tummy on the shag rug in the colloquium, which has pretty colors and is good for scritch-scratching. Other pleasing scritch-scratchable things are: the sofa upholstery; jaquard-weave throw pillows; the pages of books Mama is reading; the screen-printed designs on her brothers’ shirts; the netting on the pack-n-play.
If I am completely honest, her timeline of gross motor skills seems to be lining up very nicely with Clive’s, for which I am both grateful and a little worried. I am grateful because of having gone through it already with him (he was immobile until twelve months and didn’t walk until almost twenty months) so I will not need to worry so much this time around, should she prove to be like he was. Also, it is lovely to have a baby that stays put for so long. On the other hand, it is extremely tiresome to have to always be telling people “not yet, not yet, not yet” as an answer to everything asked: is she crawling? Walking? Sitting? Teething? No, no, no, no. And even though I know I shouldn’t, I will still worry. It’s my prerogative as her mother, I suppose.
I have said that she is demanding. As her day goes on she becomes more so, until by the afternoon I am almost always trying to go about teaching or cooking with her on my hip, because she won’t stand for me putting her down. She really loves people, and is not content to be over on the rug (not even to scritch-scratch it) while the rest of us are gathered at the table together or are off busy with other tasks. One day I brought her to Ephraim, who was playing in his room, and asked him to keep her company while I tried to get some work done. She lay on her tummy listening to him tell her what he had learned in school that day, and was perfectly content.
Because of her exacting tendencies, I have arranged her schedule so that she goes to bed at 5 p.m. and wakes up at 5 a.m. This gives me the ability to do most of my dinner prep after she is in bed, and carry her around for her worst (in terms of clinginess) time of the day.
Despite her social personality and demands to be held in the afternoons, she is not much for rocking at bedtime. She prefers to be placed in bed with her blanket and her pacifier and maybe her dolly, whose face she likes to scritch-scratch as well. She smiles when I put her down and plays for a bit (and probably plans what vocal feats she’ll wake me with in the morning) before quietly going to sleep on her own.