Monday, April 11, 2011

Do the locomotion

Let it be known for posterity that on Friday, April 8th, 2011, Mademoiselle flipped over from her back to her tummy.

We'd been waiting for this for a long time. She'd almost make it over, and then foiled one too many times by that pesky arm, she would seem to give up to work on other things, like grasping objects and directing them to her mouth. But flipping over was still on her to-do list, and like that final annoying item you only attack when you have no further excuse to avoid it, she'd redouble her efforts when she was already tired, annoyed, and frustrated. Inevitably she'd end up shrieking and crying.

I couldn't quite understand her motivation, to be honest. If I were her, I'd be resting on my laurels in my comfy baby chair, content to smile at people and gum soft plastic objects. But I always did want children with more ambition than I have.

On Friday afternoon, I was trying to get both kids out of the door, le Petit to my mother-in-law's, and Mademoiselle with me to her monthly pediatrician's appointment. I put Mademoiselle down in her bed to assemble the ten trillion items that accompany such expeditions: diaper bag, change of clothes, checkbook, health record book, vaccines, le Petit's helmet and scooter. Most likely le Petit's inability--err--refusal to put on his own shoes slowed us down further. (I'm thinking of you with pity, all you second-born children, cursed to wait while your older siblings dawdle.) My mother-in-law kept checking on Mademoiselle, and when she started to cry, told me not to worry, just let her fuss a little bit. When we finally got back to her, O my patient youngest child, she was on her tummy in her crib, with back arched, arms bent to each side, and head raised high in startled indignation.

We cheered. And picked her up and righted her, promptly. The pediatrician was duly impressed and told me this is usually a five or six month milestone. That's my girl. Of course, it wreaked havoc on her naps and she woke up three times last night, but it's hard to live in proximity to genius.

She seemed to spend all weekend and all day today working on this newly acquired skill. When I went to look for a diaper and left her for a moment in her crib, she flipped over and scooted herself a full foot down to the far end as if she were in combat training. An early crawler, perhaps? A new recruit for the French foreign legion?

On Sunday, we took the family to the Parc de Sceaux for an afternoon stroll. In a calculus I can't entirely explain, the gardens, the canal, the fountains, the immense lawns and the shaded forest paths of this park add up to magic for me more than another other. It isn't Versailles; it isn't even Vaux le Vicomte, and to the best of my knowledge, it was never the object of particular intrigue or envy. Just another French-style park and garden, rescued from the Revolution and now invaded by the third estate and company on weekends. Located not far from working-class Parisian suburbs, it is packed with people of all ages and backgrounds. There are joggers, picnickers, young couples arms in arm, and children positively everywhere. The first time we discovered it was early March 2010 when the weather was unseasonably cold, and as we walked up the grassy hill to the chateau I felt like a pathetically inadequate parent, since le Petit couldn't possibly be dressed warmly enough. The winter sun still seemed to make everything sparkle. We went back in May for a picnic under the cherry blossoms, and just barely missed a sudden rain shower.

This Sunday, in the midst of the summery April that has hit Paris this year, the park was filled with people like I'd never seen it before. Unlike most Parisian parks, however, the crowds weren't oppressive, just festive. Or maybe it was my mood. There were new spring-green leaves under a sun worthy of July. My husband carried Mademoiselle in the Bjorn, facing out, taking it all in. I planned to chase le Petit but ended up instead cajoling him into walking as best I could by scolding, pleading, inventing games, and instructing my husband to play hide-and-seek behind trees. Halfway around the canal, I started getting seriously frustrated with his stubbornness -- he wanted to go his way to the fountain, not ours, which I eventually accepted if he would just start walking at a reasonable pace already -- I realized that we'd expected him to walk six or seven kilometers. That's a long way for such a little guy, and he was doing pretty well!

(The next time you happen to be wandering greater Paris and you see two parents, one of them carrying a baby, walking diagonally while linked together by sticks held by a three year old with the mother making "choo choo" noises and pretending to be a train, that's probably us. If you can picture that at all, that is.)

I'm like Mademoiselle flipping over and scooting her way to the end of the bed with this post: I don't have any idea where I'm going, but I keep moving.

My husband is in Germany on a business trip this week, and I feel like super mom because I managed to get both kids fed, bathed, and asleep in bed all by myself tonight, with minimal crying from Mademoiselle (that's life as a second-born) and no crying from le Petit, or even myself. Yay! Tomorrow my feat will be to pack up the family for our first vacation. It may sound small, but we take more stuff on vacation that Napoleon when he invaded Russia (though hopefully with greater success). On Wednesday, my in-laws are taking me and the kids to La Rochelle for three days of fresh salt air and -- hear my plea, Météo France -- sun. My husband will meet us at the end of the week and we'll head off for the Tarn where I will discover a new corner of France's southwest.

And with a little luck, my driving school should be calling me to schedule an April or May date to finally take the driver's license exam.

We're moving here, I'm telling ya.

[Brief note: y'all know I love reading your comments, right? Even if I rarely have the wherewithal to write a comment back, because either my brain is fried from lack of sleep or the computer has been requisitioned by Elmo. So please, keep commenting, because reading what you have to say makes my day!]


Jac. said...

Gosh, I'm so glad you wrote the paragraph in the middle about rolling onto tummy being a 5 or 6 month milestone. DD has shown no interest. She will roll from tummy to back, but I think that is easier. However, since DD is a tummy sleeper, the rolling to the back also wrecked havoc on night sleep, because she insisted on practicing all night long and then waking up angry when she wasn't in her favorite tummy position. Thankfully, that only lasted two weeks and now, on the other side of that wretched "4 month sleep regression" - she's sleeping from 10pm to 6 am without a peep! I wish the same for you.

Cloud said...

I'm always reading, even if I'm not commenting. Things have been hectic here since I started the new job.

The park trip sounds lovely. I'm sure you an your husband made a dashing choo choo train.

@Jac- Petunia flipped over onto her tummy once, I can't remember when. Maybe around 4 or 5 months old? And then showed zero interest in doing it again until she was just about ready to crawl. So don't worry! (But can you send some of that good sleep to us- we're stuck in a cycle of midnight parties.)

Sylvie said...

Ah, I envy your trip to the Tarn, where I lived in 2004, in Gaillac. Albi and Montauban are particularly worthwhile. Memories, memories. Bon voyage!

Anonymous said...

Can't wait to hear about your trip to La Rochelle! Hope you've had some sun...we sure could use some here in the NW. I'm all finished with 40 and raining!
PS Hooray for the rolling! So exciting!

hush said...

Hope you're enjoying La Rochelle. I guy I had a major crush on back in the day spent a year of high school with a host family there. Thanks for inadvertently conjuring that sweet recollection for me!