Every month, I sit down and think about the challenges and the blessings of another month with Adriana. There are some months when I think the challenges seem to overwhelm the blessings, but as I write this after a rough week, the blessings are so apparent. Yes, Adriana did keep me on my toes each day. Yes, she threw tantrums over seemingly small things. Yes, she terrified me as she tried to do things at the park that she's just not physically capable of doing at this point, and would have hurt herself if I hadn't been there. Yes, there were days she barely napped, so I didn't get a chance to write it all down when I wanted to. But. But. There are things that I never thought about as things people had to learn, such as what a shadow is and how to jump, and I get to be there as she works those out. I got to play "Ring Around the Rosy" over and over again and heard her giggle each time she fell down, to see the delight on her face as she hung from the monkey bars at the park, to watch her studiously pour water from one container to another in the bath, and to feel her lean in for a kiss as she wrapped her arms around my neck. She left me exhausted, but she also left me in awe.
A few weeks ago, Adriana settled into a nice schedule: she woke up around 7:30 every morning, napped for two hours starting at 12:30, and went to bed at nine. I loved the predictability of it, and wondered why I hadn't tried to get her onto a schedule months ago. Then she changed her mind, and I realized that I hadn't gotten her onto a schedule so much as she'd gotten me onto one, and having it yanked out from under me was hard to cope with. I keep blaming her lack of predictability for making me nuts, but I think it's probably more closely related to the fact that she isn't going to bed until ten o'clock.
She is also going through a very clingy stage. She has always been clingy with me, but evenings lately have been rough: if she can't be in constant physical contact with me, she should at least be within one foot. If I want to get myself a glass of water six feet away from where she's sitting at the dinner table? Totally worth a tantrum. If I dare to walk into another room to get something? CALL CPS HER MOTHER IS ABANDONING HER. It's actually okay once I've left the room. I can go take a shower and after she screams and cries and throws things for a few minutes, she plays happily with Brian. Until I come back, at which point if I stop touching or looking at her for a second, we're back to where we were before. It's tiring, and it's all I can do sometimes to remind myself that this is only a stage, that she's only small once.
Yet she also is very independent in some ways. (Perhaps that's actually connected to the clinginess?) She wants to walk everywhere now, and usually fights the stroller or the Beco (although once she's in one or the other, she admits defeat and settles down), and it's fun to walk places with her. She knows she has to hold a hand when we cross a street, and usually when we walk along the sidewalk, she reaches up for a hand to hold. It feels so perfect to walk down the street with her and Brian, Adriana between us, holding our hands. She wants to sit in a regular chair, not a high chair, and feed herself. She's always been a bit like this--strong-willed and wishing she were more self-sufficient--but now she is much more vocal about what she wants, screeching when I try to do something for her.
She is making more attempts at words that she has in the past, although usually, no matter what we've asked her to say, she just tells us, "ba ba ba" or "ma ma ma." Instead she continues to sign constantly, picking up signs almost immediately (and has over 60 now). Reading with her is fun, because she knows so many signs and tries to tell the story too. For each page of Good Dog, Carl, she makes at least one sign. She's also paying more attention to the pictures now. Toward the end of Wynken, Blynken, and Nod, another current favorite, she started signing "bird," and finally I asked her where the bird was. She pointed and there in the corner of one of the pictures there was a little bird in the tree that I hadn't even noticed.
She notices everything and is very busy. She will sit still for a story (sometimes several, or at least the same one several times in a row), but other than that it seems that she's constantly moving. Every day we go to the park, and she climbs up and down stairs, goes down slides, attempts to climb ladders, hangs from bars. She digs in the sand, throws and chases after a ball, kicks her legs to try to pump herself even higher in the swings. She keeps me running as I play games with her and try to keep her from falling. And even though I complain about her dare-devilish ways, I am also rather proud.
There are days I look at Adriana and I am just amazed that this is the little baby I had just last year. There are these little gestures she has--brushing her hair out of her eyes, sticking her tongue out a bit when she concentrates, tipping her head to the side as she watches something I am doing--that just make me want to cry, because they seems so perfect to me. I watch her when she's asleep, and I am amazed at how beautiful she is and I have to remind myself that picking her up just to hold her could wake her up. But sometimes I can't help myself and I slip into bed with her, even if she doesn't need me at that moment, just to enjoy the sweetness of being near.