Sunday, November 19, 2006

Updates for Aunties & Uncles

Big "A," little "a," what begins with "a"?

Anna is a busy baby and keeps us busy, but this has been an especially challenging week, since Stephen's back has been spasming any time he tries to lift or change the baby. I've explained to anyone who will listen that patriarchy put his back out. The crib and changing table are designed about eight inches too low for a man of his stature. (See, little grasshopper -- patriarchy causes pain for men, too.)

It's just possible that I'm in withdrawal from work and am over-applying feminist analysis to people and objects closer to home. But, lucky for Anna, she was born at the same time that her federal government declared that women are fundamentally equal already, so the federal Status of Women ministry doesn't need to have women's equality in its mandate or to fund women's organizations for advocacy. Anna and I have been to one protest already and will attend another this week. It's never too early to indoctrinate the young. We will carry a banner that reads, “Stephen Harper Makes My Baby Cry.”

So, where was I before the rant?

You'll be happy to know that Anna continues to have strong opinions and a sense of justice. One nurse had forewarned us that she was trying to lead a Babies' Lib movement from the nursery of the hospital. She's a very laid-back baby -- except when she's not, and then she yells at us. It isn't frequent, but it is always justice-related. She rails against the injustice of wet diapers, hunger pangs, unacknowledged sleepiness, and bad parenting.

Bad parenting occurs when we fail to distinguish a yell demanding one thing from a yell demanding another -- if we mistake hunger for a wet diaper, for instance. Bad parenting, in her estimation, can also consist of paying less than 100% of our attention to her 100% of the time.

The sleepiness issue is a bigger problem, since she yells if she's tired but hates to miss anything interesting, and so she fights sleep with every ounce of energy she has left. Fortunately, this fighting only takes place during the day-time. She's well on her way to sleeping through the night -- she slept ten hours at a stretch last night, which I thought was a bit of a gyp since Stephen was supposed to be on night shift and I was on morning shift. He slept through while I staggered out of bed at 6:00. Not early by Anna’s granddad's standards, but I had been on night and morning shift for the two previous nights. And it's Sunday morning, for pete's sake.

You can tell when Anna's fully asleep because of her position: the Duffy sprawl, as Dad called it. Arms a-flail. Stephen now refers to Anna's arms as the "lateral stabilizers," as in the phrase, "lateral stabilizers fully deployed."

She's thriving on her all-bean diet, our little vegan baby -- she's on a soy-based formula since being unable to breastfeed. We would call her "fartface" as a nickname anyway, because we're like that, but she earns the title. She loves to eat and when she has fully satisfied her appetite gets a look on her face -- mouth agape and milk-covered, eyes half-lidded -- a bit like Homer Simpson after a beer. We call her our "sloppy little milk drunk" on these occasions. Then we put her to bed.

Her personality and tastes are emerging more and more with every day. Last time I wrote, she was able to tell us her favourite albums. Now she can tell us her favourite songs. She's still fond of Rose Cousins’s If You Were For Me album (especially "Dance If You Want To"). But her preferences led to some heartache recently, when we tried out an album of soppy baby lullabies we'd received in a book bag at the hospital. She loved it. Cheese-a-rific keyboards and all. To her credit, she cried when a bunch of children belted "Frere Jacques" out of key. But she loves the "Snuggling Song" -- "This is the snuggling song / The snug as a bug in a rug-a-ling song." Ugh-a-ling song.

Thanks to Laurie's lovely “un-shower” last week, attended by many friends and family members, we've diversified the lullaby collection a little and only have put the snuggling song in lower rotation. We’ve been overwhelmed by all the presents, good wishes, and love from family and friends.

Anna slept for a while at Laurie’s party for her, but she woke in time for cheesecake and was very charming. She still loves to play with people more than toys. She loves to look into a person's face, and she's got a killer smile. (She had to work on it. For a few days when she was five weeks old, she could only smile on one side at a time -- then finally she got both sides coordinated.) This week, she's learning to laugh, which is pretty cute. Her favourite game is tongue-sticking-out. She sticks out her tongue at you, and you are expected to stick your tongue out at her. For at least half an hour. Funny noises and raspberries optional but preferred. Diatonic and pentatonic scales and arpeggios sung while forming raspberries guaranteed to inspire the attempts to laugh.

A true Island girl, Anna was also wonderfully social during the sad occasions around her mother’s godmother's wake and funeral last week. On Wednesday, she had the happy surprise of meeting her Aunt Emily, home from northern Quebec, and she came to the wake and slept so peacefully that she was able to stay almost all afternoon. She had a babysitter during the funeral, but she came out again for the family reception that night. It was a good thing to have new life at gatherings that marked the end of a life. And though it was a very sad occasion, it was good to get together with family that doesn't gather nearly often enough.

Anna is a very contented, friendly baby. We love her, of course, but we also like her a lot and find her great fun to be around, with her strong and active little body and her curious mind. She loves to sit in her chair on the kitchen table while I cook (as long as I stick my tongue out at her often), and she scrunches her nose when I wave things under her nose for her to sniff. She loves to go for walks in her stroller or in her carrier, and she looks around intently until the rhythm of the motion lulls her to sleep. We try to take our walks in French, to give her a little taste of a second language. Turns out her mother needs a pocket dictionary, thanks to lapses in vocabulary -- what is the French word for "sidewalk," anyway?

When Anna Sophia wakes today, we'll do our regular round of Sunday visits, with Grandma Marjorie first and then today, for special, supper at Pat and Tara's to belatedly celebrate Grandma Carolyn's birthday.