My son Emmett is officially a one-year-old!
During the past year—my first year as a mother—I have ridden a dangerously unpredictable hormonal roller-coaster. I have cried tears of joy, tears of frustration, tears of fright, tears of the “Oh-my-goodness-he’s-my-baby-and-he’s-so-beautiful” kind, tears of the “Oh-my-goodness-I-am-responsible-for-a-human-being” kind and many, many, many tears of laughter.
Babies don’t understand humour the way we adults do, so it amazes me that babies can make us laugh so much, so hard. Are babies inherently hilarious? Maybe it's because of their innocence: they aren't trying to be funny.
Or maybe it was just the hormones.
Or maybe it was just the hormones.
Here are a few memorable moments from the past year in my life as a mother of a new baby:
One day, I was at my parents’ house, and we were discussing how newborn babies are completely disproportionate. If you really think about it, and compare your proportions to a baby’s, it’s kind of frightening. Their head comprises a startling large percentage of their total size. The length of their torso and the length of their legs are roughly equal. The size of their hands and feet in comparison to the size of their head is very small. Have you ever held your hand or foot up to your head? They are probably roughly similar in length to your head. A baby’s hand or foot? Freakishly smaller!
Their facial features are also really big on their faces.
When I mentioned the facial features, my mom said, “Yeah—they’re like a blow-up doll that hasn’t been blown up yet.”
Before inflation (2 days old):
A little more blown up (1 year old):
When Emmett was a newborn, after feeding him, I’d prop him up and laugh at him. He’d always have this super-full-and-satisfied look on his face. He would gurgle unintelligible things with his eyes barely open. I couldn’t help but be reminded of a really inebriated person at the tail end of a crazy night of drinking—someone who could no longer function. One time, after feeding him, pretending to be Emmett, I said, “Man, I shouldn’t have had that last beer!” Then he puked all over me.
You know how when you defrost frozen berries, they get really liquidy? I fed Emmett frozen defrosted berries one day, and he got berry juice all over his mouth, and the dark purple juice happened to form perfect “lipstick” marks around his own lips. He looked so pretty! The first thought that came to my mind was, “He looks like a geisha!” So I took pictures.
Emmett preferred pureed food for a long time. While he liked peas when they were blended into a bunch of other food, he didn’t seem to like whole ones. I tried giving him a whole pea, and he made a face. He just wouldn't give whole peas a chance. The first thought that came to my mind was, "He looks like Gollum from Lord of the Rings!" So I took another picture.
You know how when you put a baby in the next clothing size up, and their clothes are a little big at first? When I first put Emmett in 18-month sleepers, and he crawled around, he would crawl his feet right out of the sleeper legs. My mom observed, “He looks like one of those people—in that milk commercial—who aren’t getting enough calcium.” I guess as soon as my blow-up doll got a little inflated, he started to look a little deflated.
Babies and Dogs
I thought our Jack Russell, Lucy, was smart enough as dogs go. I mean, she understands some words and some commands. She listens. She obeys.
Then Emmett came along. He seemed to develop at the speed of light compared to Lucy. A few of my friends (who have babies and dogs) have commented that while babies keep getting smarter, dogs just stay the same, which makes the dog seem kind of dense. At this point, Emmett knows Lucy’s name. If I ask Emmett, “Where’s Lucy?” he will look for her and wave at her.
I am not so sure that Lucy knows Emmett’s name. If I ask Lucy, “Where’s Emmett?” Lucy perks up her ears, cocks her head to one side, runs to the front window, looks outside and then starts running all over the house. (Emmett was sitting right by her.)
Babies are drawn to electronic devices. If a cordless phone, an iPod, a cell phone or a remote control is lying around, Emmett’s laser-beam eyes zero in on it. When Emmett started grabbing the phone and pushing buttons, I remember saying to Joel, “Um, yeah, we probably don’t want Emmett to do that. I don’t want him to dial 9-1-1 or anything.” Joel said, “Oh, come on! He’s not gonna dial 9-1-1!”
Cut to about two weeks later. Emmett grabbed the phone, pressed the “talk” button, and then dialled 9-*-*-1-1. While under Joel’s supervision.
Another time: 6-1-1. Pretty close.
A third time: 9-9-1.
He’s obviously not so smart that he knows how to do something he never learned. What I learned, though, was that if you think your baby won’t be able to do something, however random a thing, think again.
Remember the Life Call commercial from a long time ago, with the old woman who fell down and used her Life Call device to call for help, exclaiming, “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”
Well, Emmett had the opposite problem when he started pulling himself up to stand in his playpen and crib. In his case, he got stuck standing up. He would cry for me to come and help him down because he hadn’t learned how to lower himself back down to sitting. In his case, his cry for help was, “Help! I’ve stood up and I can’t get down!”
Dance, Dance, Dance!
We love music at our house. We have music on all the time. Emmett has listened to a wide variety of music in his first year. We’ve really been encouraging him to dance to pretty much any kind of music: from Raffi to the Foo Fighters to House of Pain to the Beatles to background music on CTV news’ weather forecast, and everything in between. I love it when babies dance.
Emmett’s gotten pretty good at dancing. He has a couple of different dances: the torso dance, convenient while one is in the sitting position, and for serious dancing, he goes onto his hands and knees to feel the groove. He’s even found a way to dance when he’s lying on his change table (wiggling like an inchworm and puffing up his chest like a penguin), dancing to even tunes as “undanceable” as me singing scales or “Doe, a Deer.” Here’s a video of Emmett dancing. I love it.
You’ve probably heard this before, but in case you haven’t, I posted a link to Jerry Seinfeld’s comedy segment in which he compares one’s first birthday to one’s last. Indeed, they are very similar. Need I say more?