We went to visit my family in NC for a few days this past week and Alice loved it. It is amazing how I can be surprised (mostly pleasantly) when I throw Alice for a loop. Our life up here in Brooklyn is predictable in so many ways (her and I are very close always-wearing her, or in the stroller, we are never too far from home), but so very unknown in other ways (lots of stimulus, noise, on foot where ever we go, and must return that way even in a screaming fit) that I find myself playing it safe by instinct. Maybe it is because I am not from this type of environment and even after 8 years- the longest I have ever lived anywhere even- it is still unnatural for me, or maybe it is a result of how shell shocked we are from how colicky Alice was for the first 5-6 months of her life. For whatever reason, it is my instinct is to stay relatively close to our apartment so we can go home if she is fussy, or needs to nap. When we leave, there are a number of things I have to have with me and in order to do so. Usually she has recently woken up, we have nursed (Oy, nursing Alice in public? Nightmare. She is a super distracted baby pulling off if she sees anything even remotely interesting, won't tolerate being under a nursing cover and nearly everyone in NYC is a pervert with a cell phone camera and there are video surveillance systems everywhere), and always with a pouch of baby food, Cherrios, diapers and wipes-though I change her before we leave- toys and a blanket, in case we have to stop at a park for her to crawl around and get her ya-ya's out, and a bottle of water and a straw. Nearly a year into this game it comes pretty naturally and we can be out the door in 10 minutes if necessary, but it all seems wound pretty tight sometimes. When we were visiting my family, the luxury of traveling by car was really amazing. Take all that and just toss it in the car. Screaming baby? Her too. Yeah, you still have traffic but it feels like an extension of home merely because it is private. And the people allowed in your car love you and your fussy baby. It was nice being around people that love us.*
*Not all people love us. On the plane ride down to NC there was a grown man that shhhhed Alice. Twice. When I thought she was being quiet even, just making sweet fun baby noises and everyone around us was smiling at her and saying how cute she was. After shhing her twice he loudly said, "Would you be QUIET, please?!" from 3 rows back. They had just closed the cabin doors and we hadn't even taken off yet. Everyone around stared at me with wide eyes and open mouths until I said in an equally loud voice that I would try to tell her that, but seeing as she is 11 months old, it is a little difficult to convey abstract concepts like volume and social settings to her, and then they laughed and tole me to ignore him because he was a jerk. But the whole thing just made me feel like crap. I was tense the whole flight because I know just how loud she can get and the likelihood of her becoming that loud was high due to the space in which she was allowed to exist. I am not a timid person, but I also felt like that guy probably wasn't entirely balanced because he was a grown ass man shhing and then telling me to keep a baby silent and we were trapped on a plane with him for the next hour and a half. It was one of those situations where you react one way, but really I should have stood up and asked who exactly said that and looking him straight in the eye, told him that while I know that it is difficult to listen to babies and kids sometimes, they have every right to travel and be in public places and if he wanted peace and quiet he should have taken his own private jet or perhaps removed the stick from his ass and pierced his eardrums with it.
Grocery shopping, slightly concerned over the precarious watermelon display. Also not used to such large places, she kept looking at the ceiling as if it were about to cave in and she was Chicken Little.
Oh my god, in love with these bird puppets. Hugs all around! Stuffed animals are becoming very interesting to her as well.
This photo was taken mere seconds before I tried to take her out and she had a complete meltdown because she wanted to continue swinging. Her swing enthusiasm is worn on the inside...?
This was before we left. Alice is so in her head sometimes and I never really know if she is listening (her father's genes), but here she is, listening. And roaring. Be sure to listen to the part where she has the kitty book and is repeatedly saying 'kitty' and 'cat' deciding which one to call the fuzzy book (which used to be mine) in her hands.
My grandmother has made a million berries. She is where I get my tactile enthusiasm from, but all the berries she has ever made will never be enough for Alice. More berries!
We are not doll people. Or, I should say, I am not a doll person. I think that the presentation and encouragement of sexual and social norms we subtly impress upon kids requires more thought and freedom of desire and expression than most kids are granted. If boys want to play with barbies and girls with Tonka trucks, whatever attracts them. Go ahead and play. Show interest and I will support you. I am not trying to force you into any kind of role here however, I cannot ignore Alice's delight in receiving a hand-me-down doll from her cousin Harper. Such love!