Monday, March 26, 2007

The end of babyhood?

(with apologies to anna.)

Over at Phantom's today, she wrote about her daughter saying she's not a baby anymore. Since Z.'s 24-month appointment, I have been thinking about the end of her baby stage. When they told me that we wouldn't have another check-up for a year (I thought we'd still be on a six-month schedule) I realized I could no longer call them "well-baby visits." Z. also picked up on the significance of two, and has corrected us when we call her a baby. She's willing to accept little girl or big girl (or little kid or big kid), and even declares herself a "toddle-er" but says no to "baby girl," unless she's fairly tired or indulgent.

She's right. What she's working on now is moving out of babyhood. She's talking up a storm, with full sentences, and recently the first person and second person have mostly settled into their expected places (though my transcription erases the start-and-stop rhythm of her sentences as she pauses to frame the next statement in her mind). For goodness sake, she tells stories. She's taken on the massive enterprise of potty training. She's learning her letters, or at least the ones that start her classmates' names. She's making friends on her own terms, negotiating the whole world of sharing and offering. She's working on politeness and table manners. When she draws, there's form to what she puts on the paper, not just a massive block of color. She knows a huge repertoire of kids' songs and literary references, and she pulls them out all of the time. She's starting to make her stuffed animals hug each other.

There's a little cartoon I draw of Z. It has a nice round head, a mass of curls, including one going down over her forehead, a mobile mouth, a little button nose. Recently, I've been drawing it so that the eyebrows suggest an actual bridge to her nose, so that it looks more like her. Even her face is growing up.

Mostly, of course, this is wonderful: more interesting conversations, a perceivable end to diapers, pictures actually worth taping to the wall (at least for a week or two). And it's so much more pleasant to get things for a kid who (when prompted) can ask "please maine I have some?" instead of hollering "Dat!" and pointing.

But sometimes now when I'm carrying her she asks to walk. And soon she'll be walking away.


anna said...

No apologies needed! Mothering really is a long series of endings which, thankfully, come with their own beginnings.

S. said...

Infancy is full of those passages, but the pace has slowed down in the past year--this one snuck up on me. :)