This is less of a report on how Michael is doing and more on how I’m doing as his mom. I think I probably grade somewhere in the region of a C+/B-.
Did you know that babies should preferably be off the bottle by the age of one year?
I didn’t. I found out last week. Something to do with tooth misalignment and decay.
Nooooooo… He’s still a baby! He’s all cutesy with his bottle! Don’t take that away from us!
See that frown? That’s a contentment so deep, it hurts. I can’t end this, folks. You’re going to tell me that he has to stop sucking his thumb next!
Should he stop sucking his thumb?
I also found out, after some random Google browsing, that I’ve missed it on these areas:
1) Michael’s non-existent bedtime routine (which ends with a bottle of milk) is all wrong.
2) I should have started to introduce him casually to the potty.
3) I should have transitioned him to three regular solid meals a day a long time ago, with a snack at tea time, instead of two major meals at lunch and tea.
For all I know, there are a dozen other things that I should have started to teach him by now, and I will only find out that I’ve totally screwed up my kid six months down the road when I stumble across it on some random parenting website. To be honest, I’ve been too busy gawking at how cute he is to consider that there may be a curriculum that I should be loosely following.
Thanks to my heightened sense of parental failure, just yesterday I found myself wondering if I should be training Michael to crawl up staircases, of all things. It was during our pre-lunch excursion to the playground, and we were both watching Zohra, a rambunctious one year old who lives in the opposite block, fly up the jungle gym on her hands and knees while her grandmother looked on with indulgent pride. “She won’t fall,” she told me, mistaking my dropped jaw for concern. No, clearly she wouldn’t, I thought, as Zohra circled the tower platform at high speed, while offering high fives and flying kisses to Michael and me, clapping on cue and waving.
So today saw me surreptitiously attempting to get Michael to climb up one step. Just one. “Come to mama! Come to mama! Michael! Michael? Michael!” It proved too death defying for him, and we moved on to milder activities, like sitting on a bench and prodding at twigs.
I’m proud to say, therefore, that at the ripe old age of eleven months, Michael is officially enrolled in the equivalent of an undergraduate course for pre-toddlers. Apart from teaching him body parts and shapes and animals and whatnot, he is currently working on drinking from a straw without drowning himself, sitting down after he has pulled himself to stand without whining, playing alone for more than five minutes, sitting on the potty without immediately attempting to crawl off, having his teeth brushed with a real toothbrush with real tooth gel, getting his final bottle brought forward and his entire bedtime routine overhauled.
It’s the beginning of the end of babydom.
In fact, it happened yesterday, just one day after his eleven month birthday. I was watching his face watching mine, and I realised – this is it. It’s the moment when he turns. The last dramatic change occurred at three months when he stopped being a newborn and became a full fledged baby, and I remember exactly where I was when it happened. We were at church, and he was sitting in his stroller smiling at me in a completely different way, and I grabbed Ralph’s arm and whispered, “Do you see that?”
Yesterday, he giggled at new jokes, called my attention to things by pointing and babbling, and understood more than I could believe that he did. I pointed at a teddy bear in a book and said “bear”, and when we came back to the page a few minutes later, he pointed it out when I asked him to. You know, earth shattering stuff like that, which is the kind of thing that makes a parent’s heart burst, while the rest of the world goes on unmoved. Because in spite of yourself, you have observed and obsessed over every minute step of this human’s development, from the first kicks and squirms in utero, to the first time his eyes focused fully on your face, to the first time he learned how to pull himself painfully forward on his arms. It’s like a computer game and you just defeated the big boss to get to the next level – which is all purple and blue and pink with sparkles and there are hidden treasure chests to be found and bonus points to be scored and there is clapping and squealing and amazement and joy.