She is intense and determined and curious and strong. Dominic used to prefer to sit and watch the world, taking in as much as he could and listening to everything. Madeleine wants to explore. She wants to get the world in her hands and mush it all around to see what it’s made of. Their behavior in the bathtub pretty well sums up their personalities: Dominic will sit complacently, calmly pouring water back and forth between his nesting cups, while Mimi, sitting 6 inches behind him, churns the water into a froth, shrieking and growling and yelling, until the water drips down from her eyebrows.
In the carrier, she insists on being carried facing outwards, leaving me with just a view of the back of her head. I can gauge her moods, though, by watching the responses of the people we pass as we shop: usually, a quick double-take leading to a broad grin, as Mimi flaps her arms up and down in delight at the attention. “Is she smiling at you?” I ask. “Oooooohhhh yes,” they say.
Madeleine immediately stakes her claim on anything that sparks her interest with firm determination. Shopping with her in the carrier at Michaels, she promptly grabbed out of my hands the plastic containers of beads I was looking at and violently shook them up and down (arms and legs flapping). The shooka-shooka would continue until I picked up a new container, whereupon she would promptly toss hers on the floor and grab the new one.
She dives headfirst for the thing she wants, and folks holding her on their lap get a jolt of adrenaline when she suddenly vaults herself over backwards to see the world upside-down. Trying to put a diaper on her is like diapering a squirrel — she immediately twists and rolls in every direction until she escapes and gets to her hands and knees, grabbing at the closest (and inevitably least baby-proofed) object in reach. Rocking her to sleep has gotten much more complicated in the last few weeks, too, as she has begun peeling herself out of my arms to climb over the opposite arm of the chair. She lays herself over the arm with her bottom uppermost and tries to grab the air blowing up from the air purifier on the floor next to us, as the long hair over her eyes stands up in the breeze.*
And, oh — does she want to move! She squeals in frustration at her own inability to get from point A to point B with anything like efficiency. In the last week, she has begun pulling herself across the floor with her elbows, “army-crawl” style, while pushing off from her big toes dug deep into the rug. (Just the big toes.) She knows this isn’t the fastest way, though, so she is dissatisfied. She periodically gets up onto her hands and knees — or knees and elbows, or hands and knee (with the other leg extended above her in the air in a rather impressive yoga move) — but she can’t for the life of her figure out what to do next. There follows some random lurching that leaves her drifting sideways or propelling herself backwards, to her very great annoyance. (Which leads to a great deal of screeching.)**
She generally isn’t much into cuddling, unless she’s falling asleep or drinking her bottle, but she loves to play games. She starts bouncing up and down and making little excited squawking sounds when she sees Dominic with his pacifier in his mouth; as soon as we bring her in close enough range, she lunges forward to yank it out by the ring. (Dominic usually thinks this is funny, until Mimi pops the paci in her own mouth, quick as a flash. That’s high treason.) She loves to make him laugh; this morning at breakfast, she was making repeated swipes at my face with banana-and-avocado-covered hands, which made me yelp whenever she got too near. Dominic found this side-splittingly funny, and Mimi would repeatedly pause to watch him with a little grin before swiping at me again.
She has just started dancing, too. Dominic is currently listening (on repeat-repeat-repeat-repeat) to Elizabeth Mitchell’s You Are My Sunshine album (with special preference for “Sip sip” [Skip To My Lou], “one two, one two” [Ladybug Picnic], “C! C!” [Alphabet Song], and “Back” [Black Jack Baby].) Mimi will be sitting on the rug, staring at the cd player on the ottoman, then suddenly start bouncing up and down to the music. She seems to like the fast, energetic songs. Go figure.
If you ask Dominic, “Who is Black Jack Baby?” he will happily say, “Wee-wee!” Yes, indeed.
Black Jack Baby came running through the woods,
And she sang so loud and gaily,
She made the hills around her ring
And she charmed the hearts of the ladies,
Charmed the hearts of all the ladies!
How old are you, my pretty little miss?
How old are you, my honey?
I don’t know but I’ve been told
I’ll be eight months this Sunday,
Be eight months this Sunday!
* (My other favorite bedtime antic: she now prefers to be rocked to sleep while holding two pacifiers. Each will be popped into her mouth as the other is yanked out, over and over, around and around, until she finally tries to put both in her mouth at the same time. I inevitably start to laugh; she looks up at me and giggles, then pops them out, grins at me, pops them both back in again, chews energetically, and giggles some more. It doesn’t exactly help her fall asleep, but it is pretty stinking adorable.)
** Since writing that sentence, she has learned to crawl, but it’s still in the draft stages. It involves lots of exaggerated hip-swinging and often incorporates a foot. But it has made her far more mobile, and I’m suddenly rediscovering how non-baby-proofed the house is 6-8 inches above the ground. …and also how dirty my floors are.