Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Stuff about the girl, mostly

The facts
Monday the monitor died. How frustrating to know that the cyberworld is at my fingertips but be unable to see to navigate it.

Helena's home with a fever today. Her two boyfriends at daycare spent yesterday afternoon vomiting. Helena has thus far been spared that unpleasantness. I'm looking forward to a quiet day of children's programs and books, lazing about and much cuddling (I hope Helena cooperates).

The heart
The other day Ayelet Waldman in her column, on living out loud, online, wrote:

At this point in my life and my children's, I experience so little that is entirely separable from my identity as their mother. Mothering consumes not just the bulk of the hours of my day but the majority of my emotional and intellectual energy. Were I to declare that part of my life sacrosanct, I would have much less to say. I want to write about being a mother and about them precisely because they are such a large part of who I am. But I will no longer be writing about them just because they have said something amusing, or because they happen to look cute in their matching pajamas. I can't promise not to invade their privacy, but I can promise to do it more thoughtfully, and, I hope, to more meaningful an end.

That's what I'd wanted to say, more or less. Except that over the last months, my life has gradually been refilling with experiences separable from my identity as Helena's mother, while she is becoming more her own independent person.

In light of this, what follows is ironically trivial in detailing the minutiae of Helena's antics these last few days. (Oh well.)

The hair
We took Helena for a haircut. My sister flew through town this weekend, and this seemed like an appropriate family excursion to undertake. The hairdresser came on a bit strong in greeting Helena — I think she assumed Helena was older than she is — which made Helena freak out with tears and clinging. So she sat on my lap for the cut rather than in one of the cool car chairs, and she got a lollipop at the beginning of the cut rather than the end.

Weirdly, and to our great entertainment (I mean Helena's), this same mall was playing host to a menagerie of quasi-Easter-themed barnyard animals. And a donkey.

The body
Helena has suffered the shock and embarrassment of bodily functions in recent days. When in the tub, a look came over her face: "Caca." She stood up and was very distressed (as was I) to see a round little turd floating amid her boats. Frankly, I'm amazed this never happened before — I used to dread bathtime for the possibility of this happening.

The daycare has suggested Helena doesn't need diapers or pull-ups anymore; we're to send her in underwear. Before we managed to get her out the door Monday morning, we had two accidents. Two changes of clothes. Two sessions of hugs and consolation. Two mop-ups. The daycare environment inspires her to act like the big girls, but we'll have to go a little slower at home.

(Why am I writing about this? Toilet-training is a mystery to me. Whatever advancements Helena has made, she's figured out on her own. Maybe I should read up on these developments. The whole subject is... icky. I'm not sure if I'm asking for advice or commiseration. I'm shocked, too, that this stage and all the clothes changing and laundry and mopping it entails take up so much of my time. But I'll get over it.)

The brain
When we asked "What's that?" of the scribbles Helena was toiling over: "C'est un beau dessin!" (It's a beautiful drawing!)

"Twa." Toi? No. Ten minutes of questions and pointing and repetition revealed that Helena meant "straw." Once she was finally sipping her beverage through the desired object, she smirked and shook her head. "Pas 'toi.'" How could you be so silly, Mom? "Twa." Like in the language acquisition experiments I studied, she knows that what we repeat back to her is incorrect, even if she's unable to produce the correct utterance herself. A source of amusement and frustration for all.


Suzanne said...

I'm in awe about the no-diapers thing. I am stymied over what to do about potty training at the moment. Sean has NO interest in it whatsoever. We have until September to iron this out -- a preschool requirement.

I hope your visit with your sister was fun.

GaelicGrl said...

Devyn has just started (this week) to let me know the state of her diaper. I take this as a good sign but still don't want to rush the process.

I don't know if it's connected, but I started to change her diaper in the bathroom to help her make the association a little while ago.

Anyway, I'm a little shocked. I didn't know that daycares were so actively involved in the training process.

Anonymous said...

I, too, was in awe over this posting, Isabella. Toilet training for all four of my kids was always the big to-do. How nonchalant you sound. How like YOU you sound...

Isabella said...

Nonchalant? It's not like I'm DOing anything. It's the kid's lead, thank goodness, or I too would be stymied.

I don't know that the daycare is actively "training" her, so much as responding to the realities that come of the range of ages and stages of development they deal with. Helena's simply not discouraged from trying to be like the cool older girls.

Like I said, it's a little slower going in the home environment.