Monday, August 11, 2008


Frankie is busy watching the madcap adventures of Thomas the Tank Engine and his obscure British vocabulary ("Oh, bother, my coupling's in need of repair. Be a useful engine and buffer up to me.). In an effort to avoid early morning confrontation, she is being allowed to eat piece after piece of the nutritionally barren toast with butter and honey. Minus the crust. It is a wonder to me sometimes that the baby I so diligently plied with organic butternut squash and ardently protected from the cathode rays of Baby Einstein DVDs has turned into a toddler I plop in front of a video with crustless toast smeared with pure sugar.
Molly is down for her first nap of the day. She is always up at the crack of dawn, or earlier now that the days are growing shorter, and is usually ready for a nap just as Frankie is getting up for the day. This pattern continues throughout the day with Molly often waking up from a late morning nap just as Frankie is going down for her afternoon siesta. They seem to have an uncanny ability to overlap their sleep habits in a maliciously perfect scheme to keep me from having a few moments of free time.
Unlike Frankie's infant self, Molly wakes in such jolly moods it's impossible to be irritated with her early rising. She breaks into gummy grins that get wider and wider until she explodes in a high-pitched scream of delight and then pitches forward to try to noisily and moistly nurse my neck. When she's done eating, we lie in bed while I kiss her armpits and bite her ribs until she is exhausted from giggling and starts to rub her eyes. We are trying to wean her from swaddling and she is now wrapped only from the waist down, a purple mermaid with a chubby head as wide as her shoulders.
Dean thinks Molly is an abnormally happy baby. She is not just content, she is practically intoxicated with things to smile about. When Frankie was a baby, random and unpredictable things would elicit a belly laugh or two from her. I would always think that I had at last hit upon something that I could repeat to get her laughing, but the next time I tried it she would stare soberly as though she now realized how foolish it was to have found it funny in the first place. Molly has some no fail laugh-inducers. Tops on the list is any form of jumping- off the stairs, on the bed, a slight bounce on the floor. She also invariably laughs when slightly startled or when Frankie runs at a good clip toward her. If Frankie elicits a laugh from Molly, she leans forward and says in a sing-song, "Aw, Mollsie Dollsie, you love me so much! You like me! I am your favorite! You love me so much!" Molly just grins in agreement.
Despite her unhappy babyhood, Frankie has turned into a delightful toddler. She is insatiably curious and peppers me with questions, especially when driving. Forget cell phones and inebriants, it is truly distracting to drive with a curious two-year-old. "We turned right, Mommy? This is the other way, Mommy? This is the way to church, Mommy? This is called Lake Harbor, Mommy? All these houses are on Lake Harbor, Mommy? You are driving straight, Mommy? It is Sunday, Mommy? Who's driving, Mommy? You only have one hand on the wheel, Mommy!" This is coupled with various requests for things like a piece of gum, but when you hand it back to her there is great distress because "I WANTED TO TAKE THE WRAPPER OFF THE GUM!! I WANTED THE WRAPPER ON THE GUM!! THE WRAPPER!!!" Then follows a stern lecture on gratitude and graciousness and meanwhile I have been lucky to avoid taking out a row of mailboxes.

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