Friday, October 12, 2012

"Watching Libby Grow"

I've always envied songwriters, for some reason — maybe just because I haven't yet had much luck with the medium. I paraphrased the title from Bobby Goldsboro's "Watching Scotty Grow," about a father and son. It's interesting to notice songs that are obviously inspired by the arrival of children. (Talking Heads' "Stay Up Late," might be another example.)

While not a songwriter, I guess I'm a chronicler of some sort — or at least it seems important to me to be one. I guess this blog attests to that. (Although just yesterday I had a panic attack thinking that I needed to somehow transfer the content here to some sort of scrapbook — something that might survive a magnetic pulse weapon.) I've never felt so much like this as I have with this beautiful little girl around.

I can barely call her a baby anymore; she's thoroughly the most pint-sized of human beings now. I can see more than ever the justification for the concept of the "fourth trimester." Little babies — even up to six months — are really just kind of eating/pooping/sleeping machines. This … little girl … is much more than that now: a joker, an explorer … an analyst, for sure, just consumed with picking things apart.

These days march on … and here comes the miracle of personality, of desires, of exploration, joy, curiosity, irritation. It's just so amazing to watch. Some of our best times, "The Girl" (as we like to call her sometimes, in some kind of hostage parlance) and I, are when I simply lie on the floor and let her climb all over me. She doesn't care about me per sé — I'm just kind of a warm, soft jungle jim — a base of operations from which to conduct other business. The business of climbing over … and then climbing back over. And repeat. The gimme-that-iPhone business (a very popular business, that one — at just over a year old, I have watched her slide-unlock it. I wouldn't believe it if I hadn't watched her carefully and intentionally slide that arrow graphic from left to right). The I'm-right-behind-you business has become very popular lately, which has a strong element of the peekaboo business as a component. The help-play-ukulele business is thriving, too.

Libby Lee remains my biggest fan, in fact, where ukulele is concerned, and I do believe that she's developing some favorite songs, if dancing and head-bobbing are any indication. At the top of the list seems to be my rendition of The Kinks' Victoria, which — you know — it's hard to argue with that kind of taste.

I confess — even boast — to a lack of sentimentality on some fronts. For the longest time, I didn't think "dah-dah" meant me (but I'm starting to think it does now). I don't think she looks like anybody in particular but she sometimes looks a little like a lot of people — glimmers, flashes. I wouldn't have thought that a one-year-old would have what you'd call a "favorite song." But I love seeing facets of all those things in this little diamond of genes.

I love how sturdy she is — a little tank of a creature. I almost savagely fling her down on our big bed — to her great delight — and then proceed to crash her brutally down again and again … to increasing peals of laughter and attempts at escape. I always let her escape and recede back into jungle jim mode … until it's time for more savagery. I like to tell myself that I'm preparing her for the world by creating obstacles for her — but obstacles that she can overcome by simple persistence and determination (to build confidence). I wonder if this is me projecting and infecting her with my own stubbornness, which I know came from MY mom and dad. And so it is, out of my control.

I was reflecting with sadness and joy the other day with some other parent and together we laughingly and reluctantly confessed to unhearing childen: "this is as good as it gets, kiddo. it's all downhill from here." Which isn't as bleak as it sounds because the triumphs and failures of Life are each of ours to grapple with — and revel in.

But to see the unmitigated thrill of a happy 1 year old … well, it may just be as good as it gets. And it feels really good to me, too — better than anything I've ever felt, in fact. And the unsentimentalist in me says: "That's chemicals, probably. Love chemicals to keep you caring for the tiny human who can't care for themselves … yet." Whatever it is — to enable that, to facilitate that; to change diapers, to prepare bottles, to be climbed upon, to arrange naps… to find my baby awake, standing inside the crib waiting in nearly excruciating anticipation … for me to appear and to do it all some more.

That unfiltered ecstacy.

Me, too, baby. Me, too.

Random bits:

  • I'm not 'Daddy' yet but I might well be 'Dada.' Lucy isn't quite "mama" yet, but getting there — sometimes "ma-ma-ma-ma-ma." For a brief and funny time, Mama was "dah-disch" — almost a yiddish femininization of "dada." So, yeah — "Daddy and Daddisch." That's what I'm pressing for.
  • She sleeps like it's her job, and I know better than to complain about that — On her front, butt stuck up in the air, arms tucked under — I now see where the yoga position "Child's Pose" comes from. Duh. Head to one side, then the other, sometimes she wiggles her butt to self-rock. There's a vexing bi-product of this position which is a gradual scooching forward in the crib, which leads to her eventually often becoming "jammed up" in the top of the bed. I've learned to identify a certain sleeping squawk of frustration — and see an opportunity to facilitate by taking ahold of her still-corpulent thighs and dragging her backwards a couple of feet. 
  • And then I pat and pat her back, rub her back. She's usually completely asleep. But I can't stop. I remember my own mom rubbing my back when I was much older — maybe 5 or 6. There's something deeply satisfying about rubbing your baby's back.
  • Certain strangers are instantly engaged verbally, accompanied by a direct eye contact and a tone of 

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