Monday, August 30, 2010

I'm ready to admit I have a toddler.

We are back from an exhausting, whirlwind trip to hubs' homeland of upstate New York. It was gloriously beautiful. Rolling hills. Greenness all around. It made me homesick for a place I'm not even from, though I did live there for 4 years.

And MJ got to practice turning 1. DH's aunts confirmed that, although she is a little bundle of quantum energy, hubs was even more extreme. I didn't think it was possible. But she was all cuteness, all the time. We woke up at 3:15 this morning to come back to the Minn, and are all at work today. So after 5 hours of traveling with a squirming, restless little girl, I am ready admit. She's a toddler.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Gender neutral is complicated.*

God love my husband, but it turns out I'm better at dressing a little girl than he is.  This is not a slight in the least, I'd be uncomfortable if this statement weren't true.  But I giggle a little inside (or outside) when I pick MJ up from daycare and she is wearing a dress that he put on backwards. 

As a consequence, she frequently looks like a boy when Dad dresses her.  This is not his fault, this is a consequence of the fact that if a baby isn't wearing pink then said baby must be a boy.  I think this is true until teen years, at which time girls wear things much too short for them so it's clear they're a girl.  This presents a much larger problem, which I thankfully won't have to worry about for at least a few years.

On this particular day, MJ looked like this:
Which is utterly adorable.  But Tim at the ice cream shop understandably thought that she was a he.  And I didn't correct him, because when you correct someone's mistaken gender assignment of a baby they get all flustered and embarrassed.  So I've gotten in the habit of just smiling and nodding, because I don't personally care if they think MJ is a boy.  She doesn't seem to care either as she licks sand out of the crack in the sidewalk. 

But what I thought was going to be a 10 second conversation turned into a 10 minute conversation as the line snaked through the ice cream shop on the 98 degree day.  And Tim was a very nice old man, rather fun to talk to.  He didn't notice at first as hubs used female pronouns to refer to our daughter, he continued to think "boy".  And then he asked what his name was, and we were too far in, so I just said "MJ" (never before realizing how convenient it is that she has both a she- and a he-name.)  So  hubs started using male pronouns realizing there was no way out.  But then Tim introduced MJ to a cute little baby girl, saying that when they're older they can date.  And then I think hubs realized the absurdity of the whole situation (not that he hadn't before, I'm sure), no longer cared about humoring my plan and reverted to female pronouns.  And started using her given, very she-name. 

At this point, Tim looked confused.  And his pity for our daughter was clear, thinking that she was the product of two overly liberal parents who don't even know (or care) about the gender of their child.  Or maybe we're just raising Pop.  The role of gender in a child so young is intriguing to me.  It seems like there shouldn't be, but our daycare staff claim that often a strong attachment forms between a baby boy and a baby girl that will carry on through toddlerhood, but that they've never seen one form between babies of the same gender.  Which leads me to wonder, if you had a daycare completely filled with the children of gay and lesbian couples, would the same statement be true?  At this young age, how much is instinct and how much is conditioning? Though probably the most shocking thing to me about raising this child has been how little say we get in her personality.  I was always more of a "blank slate" proponent, but after raising MJ I can no longer follow this train of thought. 

I currently dress you in a lot of pink, little girl, trying to get my fill before you are able to assert your opinion.  But know that you are free to choose whatever orientation you want when the time comes, even if it means confusing old men like Tim.

*And another instance when matching outfits are adorable.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My photography skillz are going to have to get better

She moves fast now.  She is not the stationary little target she was a few months ago.  I get one shot, maybe two, and they are usually blurry.  Meaning I've got to learn what I'm doing, rather than just taking 50 pictures in the hopes that one will turn out okay.

This is my little toddler.  On a recent trip to Babies-R-Us I realized they have nothing for us anymore.  In one year's time, we have bought an entire store worth of merchandise.  I used to feel overwhelmed by that place, terrified by the targeted commercialism of parenthood.  Not only am I no longer scared of it, I own it all.  Not everything, obviously, but probably one or more of every category.  Sheesh.  We have a small storage room in the basement which is now FULL of baby stuff.  Because someday we'll have another.  And it could be a girl.  So I need ALL off this.  But I digress.  Because see those cute little pink shoes above?  Baby shoes are just about the cutest item in the world.  Parenthood commercialism, I lurv it.

Monday, August 16, 2010

11 months.

Here's you at 11 months. 

Happy.
Precocious.
Those have been constants in your life.

Thankfully, this month you learned a little bit of the fear, thanks to a few minor injuries in your early early attempts at walking.  This slowed you down a bit, caused you to think about what you were doing instead of just charging full speed ahead. Despite my earlier pronouncement, only now are you really becoming a walker.  And you're so proud of yourself, all grins and laughs at your new found skill.

In the last couple weeks language has begun to dawn on you.  You've been saying mama for quite a while, but now you seem to understand that it applies to me.  Granted, you say it for just about everything else in the world, but it seems to be reserved for things you like so I'm okay with it.  You are also learning "Dada", "No", and "Duck" (though that last one might just be a variant of "Dada").

And you have a boyfriend.  Baby boy S.  Whom you kiss, and hold hands with, and share your toys with.  I find this disturbing.  But crazy cute.  You love your beach ball.  You love when we crawl on the ground with you.  And you love life. 
The other day I was standing in line at Ikea, and you were a hot mess. Your Dad took you to the car while I paid. A teenage girl standing in line behind me asked her Dad "Do you remember when I was that small?" and he smiled and said yes. Then she asked if she was a difficult baby and he laughed a knowing laugh, but didn't answer. It's hard to picture you as that teenage girl, but I know it will happen. And you will ask me that same question, and I will miss all your hot-mess-baby-moments.