A Typical Day with An 11 Month Old.

She’s going to drop the sippy cup again. It’s in her egg-covered hand, and it’s dangling over the edge. I contemplate catching it for a moment so I don’t have to pick it up later – which wouldn’t even be a problem if the dog hadn’t eaten my sippy cup strap – but the idea of touching all the food she’s rubbed all over it while she drank during her meal is an unpleasant one. I watch it dangle for a few moments, while my daughter uses her limited understanding of the world to reason whether she should drop the cup or not, and the answer that always prevails does so again. The cup clinks across the floor, and the no-drip spout leaks a few drops of soy or almond or cow milk across the floor. The dogs, who are resting at the edge of the carpet, eye it greedily. They know they aren’t allowed in the kitchen, but almost every day I catch them there, licking up what morsels they can find before I snarl at them to get off the tile, eventually. 

Less work for me, after all. 

Winter, my soon to be one year old, is already screaming. “Ah Doe!” She says, waving one of her hands in the air, spreading more food across the floor. “Ah Doe!”

“All done?” I say, doing the ASL sign for “finished”.

“AH DOE!” The other hand waves frantically. 

I grab her hands and wipe them down as fast as I can because when Winter is Ah Doe, she is Ah Doe. Right then and there. I try and get her face even more quickly because sometimes she’ll start picking food back up or slam an open palm down in a big pile of uneaten sausage which always results in more Ah Doe’ing and some screaming included for everyone’s listening pleasure.

Sometimes after breakfast she’ll take her sippy cup and wander away for a little while. Usually I find her playing with her bookshelf. She enjoys taking the books out, “reading” them, and putting them back (or not). Sometimes she’ll take other objects that are flat and put them in there, too. Or sometimes she puts the dog collar in there so when I go to let the dogs out after their breakfast (the one that wasn’t on the floor in the kitchen) I have to go on a bit of a journey to find the tie out collars. 

Some combination of independent play and playing with mom or dad usually results in a level of crankiness that indicates its time for a nap. Sometime she quickly admits defeat to her father while he’s walking or rocking her to sleep and at other times, she won’t, and there will be a battle of the sleepy wills where tears are shed.

This is likely the first, but not the last time in the day, where she will cry. She will cry about the dog walking away from her. She will cry about a block not fitting in a place she is trying to put it. She will cry about the gate to the stairs being closed and then she’ll cry because she fell backwards and doesn’t want to roll over and get back up.

For about two hours after a nap, she is cranky. She is often brought downstairs and has a smile on her face while she lays on a shoulder, blinking her eyes slowly, trying to figure out if she wants to go back to sleep or not. She’ll nurse some, and then not nurse some, and then nurse some more once she realizes she isn’t awake enough to deal with the hardships of being an almost – but not quite – toddler. 

Usually, these are the hours in which things like this happen:

 

I cannot help but be amused, though I do understand that she really is feeling big things about the bubbles being accessible or not. Still…the things not-quite toddlers feel about are wide and varied and sometimes silly to adults. That does not discredit the way they feel; moreso, it allows for good stories to tell boyfriends and best friends later.

Often I find myself on the floor, picking up randomly dropped french fries or looking under the couch for lost blocks or other small toys. Sometimes she simply does not want me to be above her, and she needs me on her level. She’ll hug my back, or use me as home base while she walks from object to object. However, I am not allowed to sit anywhere but the floor. Getting up to refill the water jug we share throughout the day is acceptable. Putting her in her high chair for another fun-filled meal is also acceptable. Sitting on the oversized red chair that overlooks her play area? Not allowed. It results in an inconsolable baby, one I can only imagine feels as small as she actually is, and finds it unacceptable.

Sometimes she’ll dance to a favorite piano tune, or bang on the glass door while the dogs are outside, letting them know they aren’t abandoned and there is hope for coming back into the warmth. Sometimes we’ll find ourselves at the park, in our third pair of pants for the day. We’ll probably nurse some more, although not as much as we used to. We’ll cry some more. We’ll play some more. We’ll be together some more.

When I feed the dogs dinner, she always comes to cheer them on and steal bits of kibble from their bowls. I use this fifteen minutes of distraction to take a breath. Sometimes I watch the sun go down and sometimes I just pee in peace before grabbing a piece of sugar free chocolate. Occasionally I’ll brush my hair to keep the rat nests at bay.  Sometimes I don’t get to this, but I don’t let it bother me. She certainly doesn’t care if I’m in fluffy cloud pajamas or “real” pants, and I find it hard to care when there are bigger, more important things to care about. First steps. Vacuumed rug. A purring cat headbutting my leg.

When it’s time for Winter to go to bed, my husband walks her to sleep. I’d like to think it’s less putting her to sleep and more giving her the cuddles and security she needs to fall asleep all on her own. Meanwhile, I work on making sure everything is all set up for her the next day. Her toys are put away so she can rip them out and enjoy doing so. Her snack is put together. Breakfast is thought through. I wonder what she’s dreaming about, or if babies have dreams.

And I forget about all of the crying, the whining, and the crazy and remember the smiles.