Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Lament for the Eighth Month

It turns out that eight months old is the perfect age for a baby. Like a piece of lasagna the day after it's been cooked, or the thighs of a twenty-five-year-old, eight months is when infants peak. Before that age, their heads loll about on their necks like an overburdened peony stalk, their poop is still so liquid it shoots straight up their backs, and they lie wherever you place them like plump, slightly sour smelling beached whales. At eight months, they sit ram-rod straight and gaze around with alert eyes. They crawl languidly and smile freely. They happily accept spoonfuls of whatever you deign to feed them- peas, unsweetened pumpkin, plain yogurt. After eight months, things begin to go downhill. They develop firm personalities, their mobility increases exponentially, and their sweet moist plumpness melts into wiry unflagging curiosity.

Molly is nearly ten months old and has become a little pistol. When I am trying to change her diaper and get her dressed, it is like wrestling a two hundred pound man high on PCP, there is so much thrashing and twisting and weeping and teeth baring. She is fast as greased lightning and the minute I turn around she is eating Spanish moss from the fake poinsettias or pulling canned tomatoes down onto her toes. More often than not, when I try to put her in the high chair, she pulls her legs up straight in front of her and refused to bend. Then once I manage to shove her in without breaking her femurs, she turns defiantly away from every spoonful. If I manage to sucker her into a bite of food, if she doesn't like it, she pushes it out of her mouth, brings up her hands and smears it through her hair like an expensive styling mousse. She takes her bibs off, even the kind you put over her head. She throws things on the floor and watches interestedly as they plummet. She tries vainly to reach down into her dirty diaper when I'm changing it. As fast as I pry her away from the Play-Doh, she is back, yelling with furious indignation when I dig out a hunk from her incisors. If I leave the room for a moment, I come back to find her standing on the seat of the plastic car, pounding wildly on the piano keys.
Oh, compliant eight-month-old, how I miss thee.

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