Thursday, January 24, 2008

Milestone, unexpected

[Thanks for all your questions! I'm working on answers -- they'll go up in my next post.]

Last night, Munchkin passed another milestone I didn't see coming.

She's 19 months old now, and, like her cohort, is in full tantrum mode, a toddling bundle of wild desires and poorly enunciated words and clumsy gestures and imperfect balance, a developing will incompletely able to achieve its goals. It's not been pleasant around our house this week. Tuesday, we had a 75 minute screaming meltdown precipitated by a not-timely-enough sliding on of the tray to the highchair. Monday was a bathtime-to-bedtime scream-a-thon, too. Wednesday, we moved dinner dramatically forward, which helped, but she completely lost it just as, pyjama-clad, washed, and with soother clipped reassuringly to her zipper, she was handed into my arms for her goodnight bottle. Half an hour of screaming and flailing and punching and kicking and slapping later, her father managed to soothe her into bed.

We were not surprised to hear her wailing again at 9:45pm. I went up to her, earplugs stuffed into my head, bottle in hand. She was sitting dejectedly in the crib, her head tipped forward, hands clutching her doudou, sobbing quietly but insistently. I picked her up and she slapped me: half-asleep, she wanted to lie down but couldn't figure out why she was sitting up. She needed help but didn't want to be awake, period. I held her under her bum and let her decide when to ask for her doudou, for her suck-suck. Her eyes would shut and her mouth drop open, slack and snoring: yes, she kept falling asleep, sitting upright against my hip, jerking herself awake, confused. Finally, she dropped her head against my shoulder and rubbed my arm softly through her doudou. She asked for her bottle and we sat in the chair together. She fell soundly asleep almost immediately but woke up when milk dribbled onto her chin.

"All done," she muttered, arching away from the nipple and extending her arms back into a 'biiiiig stretch.'

I kissed her head, gave her a hug, and lifted her, like always, prone from the rocking chair to the crib. I laid her down on her back, her head on her little pillow, pulling the blankets up to her chin.

And then it happened: stretching and sighing with relief to be once more almost asleep, she rolled neatly onto her side, pulled up her knees, and tucked doudou under her chin as she drew her fists into her body.

I almost burst into tears. I've never seen her do anything but lie there when put to bed, cooing and wriggling maybe, but passively waiting for sleep. Her roll and tuck manoeuvre struck me as so ... grownup? Solitary? Personal? I'm not sure, but it felt significant to me. Heartbreaking and adorable, my poor little girl who's having such a hard time not being a baby, not being a big girl, sweaty golden curls wisping back from her face, a profile I've never seen before, by nightlight, calm at last.

20 comments:

Oh, The Joys said...

Oh, sister. How I get it!!

bubandpie said...

It's really only in the last year or so that Bub has perfected the roll-and-tuck. It's a very good thing when they start to figure out that sleep is something they can summon, or at least court, of their own free will.

Jenifer said...

I remember those days wells. It is funny because now as a bigger girl at all of seven Papoosie Girl has been asking to read for awhile before bed.

Since I do this every night and have since I figured out how to sneak a flashlight under the sheets how can I say no?

We have brought bedtime back even earlier to give her this time...she says if she doesn't read she can't fall asleep. This little milestone made me feel just as you described.

ewe are here said...

This is a very sweet post ... and it really is such a tough age, not a baby, not a toddler really... so many changes.

Dawn said...

I have tears in my eyes from reading that. You have such a lovely way with words.

Beck said...

Aw, sweet little thing.
She's probably a) on the verge of a huge language burst or b) getting some molars. Tantrums are fun, aren't they? I've been sleeping with some grumpy little squirt all week - she's been in a BAD mood.

Mad Hatter said...

Yes, I was thinking the language burst.

That stretch between 18 months and 2 was perhaps the sweetest and most hellish time imaginable with Miss M.

Kyla said...

Oh, that bittersweet growing up. Sigh.

the new girl said...

What a great post.

slouching mom said...

this was really lovely.

kittenpie said...

Those are the moments that remind us that despite the slapping, shrieking little demons they can appear when awake, they are just sweet, tiny things - our babies, even if not quite babies anymore.

My personal favourite sleep pose is the butt-in-air toddler fave. So cute.

Karl Marx said...

Do You Wonder?

Kidlicious said...

Your post brought tears to my eyes. How I remember those days with the twins and how I cringe at the thought that our little girl is fast approaching that stage.

sigh

mamaof4 said...

Those little moments are what being a parent is all about. We are heartbroken and proud all at the same time, as we watch them learn to be independent and grownup. It's the little moments that can be almost overwhelming sometimes. My husband teases me when I have tears over those kinds of things, but it happens to him too!

grandmatexas said...

I empathize, maybe my words will help.

www.watchgrandmaonduty.blogspot.com

grandmatexas said...

I empathize, maybe my words will help.

www.watchgrandmaonduty.blogspot.com

nomotherearth said...

It's so hard dealing with the non-stop screaming sometimes. I know they're only doing it because they're trying to work things out, and things are not going their way. But sometimes, I would just like a little quiet. Or happy screams. Happy screams would do just fine too.

The roll and tuck is so comforting. And so lovely.

Christine said...

i agree totally with beck--my kids go absolutely INSANE before a major change in language or reading skills.

and that roll and tuck thing would break my poor mama heart.

Running on empty

crazymumma said...

And so it begins.

moosh in indy. said...

Oh yes, yes, yes.
I found out today that if I put the moosh next to a much bigger kid her age I get my baby back if only for a moment.