...is my joy, my happiness, my virtue.
I'm a little bit addicted.
Is that a problem, do you think?
I've gotten to the point where, even though I struggle to find time to do my beloved work, even though I have a hard time squeezing in even the most rudimentary of errands and tasks (much less the biggies, like getting her a Social Security card or, ahem, making our Christmas cards), in spite of these things...I find myself missing her terribly when daddy takes her on an adventure for a couple of hours.
Also, I have trouble keeping myself from touching her face. Do you have that problem? It's like a magnet for me. I can...not...keep...my...fingers...off those cheeks. Those lips! That tiny chin!
Shake it off, mommy.
In more interesting news, she has made several advancements lately that I haven't had time to post. Yoli asked if she's walking - well, no, not exactly. But....
(I know, I know! How could I not have posted...)
...she did take her very first steps without assistance about five days ago.
You're probably wondering how I could possibly be such a delinquent mom. But the thing is, we've known for quite some time that she was capable. She often "forgets" that she isn't supported and stands on her own. It's clear that she's still hanging on to babyhood for a little longer, reaching for our support and reassurance....and who can blame her? She didn't have parents to coax and caress her through the earliest stages of her development. She was on her own learning how to sit and grasp and swallow her food without choking. She grew up on the mean streets of Xuzhou ;) And so I don't begrudge her lingering a little too long over what babyhood she has left. She likes to reach for our hands and feel us there. She likes to grab our legs and hug them tight, pressing her little cheek against us and squeezing her eyes shut.
She likes to fall backward and know that there is a warm lap or a pair of arms ready to catch her.
You know that "trust" exercise they do at corporate retreats? She's the champion of the trust fall. She's constantly testing us with it (and we have always - knock on something - been there for her!)
So, long story short, I was hardly surprised when she took her first steps. Being QQ, she did it the hardest way possible: she turned in a complete, shuffling circle on her own two feet before reaching for my hands again. Then, she took five steps in a straight line, sat down, and refused to do it again no matter how I coaxed her. That's her way with big advancements. She does it once...and then won't do it again for several days. When she does finally do it again, she has it down pat.
And no, daddy wasn't there to see the first steps. When he got home from work, we set up the video camera, gave her all the positive reinforcement we could manage, and tried to get a repeat performance.
In other news...we have come to realize that she understands A LOT more of what we say than we ever knew. At seven weeks post-surgery, she has not yet attempted her first word...but she vocalizes like crazy. And yes, I have heard all of the vowel sounds, including "eee", which our surgeon assured us that one cannot pronounce without the soft palate being connected. But every day she reminds us of just how much she understands.
If I say "socks", she points her toes for the socks to be applied. If I say "pants", she raises a leg for the pant leg. If she is standing up when I say either "socks" or "pants", she balances carefully on something and raises a leg with a pointed foot.
If we say "hungry?", she makes a sound that she clearly thinks sounds the same. It's sort of a "ngyang-ngyang" sound, and she makes it loudly and repeatedly.
The other day, however, I was rudely awakened to the fact that she understands a whole lot more than these rudimentary words. A lot, LOT more. It was daddy's alternate morning to sleep in, and, with breakfast already behind us, I was attempting to clean up the daily bomb explosion that is the hallmark of life with a toddler. These days, if she is on the floor, she is constantly attached to our pant-legs, calves or thighs, and it's an incessant balancing act trying to get through daily chores without dropping a glass or spilling something hot on her head. I was just making a lunge across the kitchen to get a few dirty glasses into the sink when she grabbed the leg of my pajamas in her preamble to hugging my calf, nearly tripping me and causing an avalanche of glass on the hardwood floor.
In my frustration, I said (very quietly), "OK, seriously Q, you're going to have to let go of me."
I did not push her away. I did not shout at her. I assumed that she would have no idea of what I had just said.
She, in the midst of pressing her face fondly against my calf, stopped cold. Her face turned from happy to sad in the space of a heartbeat, and she let go of my pajamas and actually pushed me away from her with both hands.
I was completely shocked.
She had clearly understood exactly what I had said.
I was so devastated that I immediately sat down on the floor, hugged and kissed her, and left the dirty kitchen to its own devices for the rest of the morning.
So, that's my sad story for the day.
In happier news, she also starts rocking from side to side if you say "dance" (or, curiously, "bananas"). And she has recently learned to press her cheek against ours if we say "give a kiss".
She plays a game of hide-n-seek where she will walk around behind our backs, wait while we say "Where did QQ go?" for a few minutes, and then reveal herself over one or the other of our shoulders, to the accompaniment of hysterical giggles.
Her eye squinch, which we first noticed during her breakfast feeding sessions, has been revealed as her sign for "thank you" or "I am grateful". She does it when we give her a bottle, but also if she has been whining for juice and we find her juice for her, and also for beloved relatives if they take her in their arms.
If you say "where's mommy?" or "where's daddy" or "where's your juice?" she will peek back and forth around the room, trying to locate the object in question.
So yes, our 16-month-old has come far. Very far. But sometimes her advances come so thick and fast that mommy and daddy have a hard time keeping up. We're old, you know.