Thursday, November 6, 2008

In a hurry to grow up?

I�ve said before that I don�t think of Abigail as a �difficult� or �high need� baby. First of all, it is absolutely not helpful for me to think of her that way; but secondly, it�s also not exactly accurate. She is a sweet, fun girl who sleeps well and eats great and has always been very alert and chubby and healthy and fit. It�s just that, well, sometimes things upset her. And she is extremely particular.

From the very early weeks with her, I noticed how strong her preferences seemed to be - she liked to be held but was rarely an awake-cuddler; very early on she made it clear that she preferred to sleep by herself, in her own bassinet or crib. Even though her strong preference for one-on-one time with me meant that we essentially did attachment parenting her first few months of life, it was attachment parenting without my hands free, because she never wanted to be in the sling unless she was fast asleep. Awake, she wanted to be able to push away to arm�s length and stare up at me, or whip her body around and gaze outward; she never stayed in one position, looking at one thing, for very long.

Yesterday our friend Millie said that Abby seems to be "a baby who doesn�t want to be a baby." Much as it pains me to admit it, I think she�s right. Abigail does seem to be in some unholy hurry to grow up - at least, there does not seem to be much she thinks she cannot do for herself. Earlier today I had been holding her up at my shoulder level so she could look at herself in the mirror, and when I put her on the floor again with her toys she started to cry and pushed herself up as far as she could, staring up at the high mirror that she couldn�t see into anymore. I tried to distract her with toys, books, a song, but she just kept making �ah, ah� sounds and reaching for the mirror. She spent several minutes pushing herself up, losing her strength, and pushing up again, gazing at the mirror several feet above her, even though it was a hopeless cause and she�d never be able to reach it.

Some of my friends who have multiple children say their oldest daughters are a lot like Abigail. Maybe that does have something to do with it; I suspect it�s just the way some kids are. My friends with Abby-like kids empathize with me about having a baby who is not such a cuddler anymore, and predict that she may not ever be clingy physically, but will probably always love and crave one-on-one time with me - to read, sing, and especially talk. I remember that�s what I always wanted from my mother, right up until I left for college - to ask her questions and tell her what I was thinking and just know that she was listening and she cared. It was how I felt close to both my parents.

But it�s too soon, of course, to know whether Abby will end up being more of a snuggler once she�s gotten over the thrill of being mobile and, now, upright. It is strange to me that she can seem so independent at times, and yet never want me to leave the room and her sight. She still likes to know that I am close by; she looks up often to make sure I am there, and watching, especially when she is about to do something impressive.

I am constantly amazed by her these days, particularly when I think that just a few months ago she was just learning to sit up without wobbling. Now she crawls and pulls up and cruises and kneels and sits by herself and (sometimes) catches herself before she falls. Every day there is something new to see. I am so proud of her.

I do wish she would stop unfastening her diaper just because she can, however.

This post originally appeared at Nikki's personal blog, A Small Song, where she chronicles her life as mama to a picky little princess.

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