Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Fear of the Dark and Other New Things

Some changes are afoot with our girls, one newly three years old, the other on the cusp of one.

Just this week, Lucia has become afraid of the dark. For a while now, when I turn off the light at bedtime, she’s been saying, “I can’t see. It’s dark.” I always reassure her that it’s okay, that it’s time to go to sleep and she doesn’t need to see. Lately, though, she’s wanted me to keep her door open while I sing her a song so that light from the hallway comes in, and then she started asking to keep the door open, period. And then two days ago she had a bedtime meltdown, refusing to get into her crib; Andrew managed to calm her down and told me afterward that she seemed truly distressed. So I went out the next day and bought her an adorable mushroom night light, which she loves. She is so happy that she can see all her animals. When we turned it on the first night, she exclaimed, “It’s wonderful!” (Now I just have to remember to pack it up along with the animals, and the white-noise machine, and her blanket, and etc etc when we go on trips.)

Greta, for her part, has learned the art and mystery of throwing food off her high-chair tray. Greta has always been such an eager, voracious eater that I don’t think it ever occurred her to put food somewhere other than her mouth; but when we’ve eaten lunch on the porch the past couple of days, I’ve watched as she daintily picks up a tiny square of sandwich and simply drops it over the side. Then she’ll eat a few pieces; then she’ll drop a few pieces. She likes to lean way, way over to the side, gazing down at the food she’s dropped. Gravity! Lucia always scurries over, picks up the pieces, and throws them off the porch “for the birds,” so Greta surely thinks this is a little game.

Ever since Greta renounced baby food and started eating regular stuff, I’ve been able to count on the fact that she'll eat pretty much everything. And she still will, as long as what she’s eating involves bread, cheese, and fruit. Suddenly gone is her willingness to devour an adult-sized portion of macaroni: she’ll lift a spiral to her mouth only to have it meet her outstretched, horrified tongue. Then she’ll throw it to the ground. Last night she looked at her spirals-with-butter-and-cheese with such revulsion that you’d think she just wasn’t hungry. Then Andrew made her a grilled cheese sandwich. She ate the entire thing, as well as some baby carrots. It seems my good eater is entering—sigh—a picky phase. Et tu, Grets?

Speaking of Greta, she’s onto the pacifier. Until the past couple of weeks, she liked it at naptime and bedtime, and otherwise couldn’t care less. Now…she wants it. She usually puts it in upside down when she does it herself, but she doesn’t seem to care. If she spots one, she moves right over to it. I’d rather it not become a habit, but frankly, it’s making my life a little easier, because when she has the paw-paw in her mouth, she doesn’t try to eat stones and clumps of grass. Today, after pulling one too many globs of dirt from her mouth when we were playing outside (she is sneaky, and fast), I went inside and got her the pacifier myself.

Finally, teeth. I’ve found a more-or-less reliable way to get Lucia not to fuss when we do teeth-brushing at night: we choose an animal that she must “teach” to brush teeth, and the way she teaches is to show the animal how she lets me (or Andrew) brush her teeth without fussing. This is fine, but by the end of the day I’m tired, yet I find myself engaged in exchanges like this one, which I had tonight with Lucia and a new, tiny stuffed pig Andrew brought her from Germany. This is me speaking, except when it’s the pig: “Oink, oink. Okay, backs of the top. Great job, Lucia! Oink, oink! Other side, backs. Great work! What’s next? Oink, bottoms. Oink oink. Now my [the pig] favorite part: allll around the tops! [pig twirls around] Aallllll around the bottoms! [pig twirls around]. Oink oink oink!!!” Is it parenting, or is it lunacy?

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