Appropriate independence

Rarely do I find myself sitting at my desk with unexpected spare time. It feels great! However, the reason I have a moment to myself is because Moo is fast asleep at completely the wrong time owing to her having her very first high temperature. We’ve been lucky with her and illnesses and ailments thus far really. Other than her heart being scrutinised by the cardiologists for months (my bad. I have the crap heart that they like to muck about with like I’m a frog in a 1970’s Biology class. They just wanted to monitor her in case they had the chance to play with her’s too. All is well though. Phew!) She also had a skin tag by her ear they removed when she was nearly 3 months old – why they waited until then I don’t know! Although I think they probably thought I was pretty weird and out of order when, in the midst of her birth, I actually said the words, “Just cut it off now! She’s screaming in pain anyway…”. Instead they waited until she was much more conscious and we had to go through the ordeal of her being taken into an operating room and placed in the hands of half a dozen, masked, knife-wielding, psychotically cooing strangers. In amongst this Orwellian nightmare she wasn’t even allowed to finish her milk. Rude!

She’s had the occasional snivel. In fact, I think her ability to produce snot is matched in volume only by China’s ability to produce pollution. But no colic, no massive teething problems, no allergies. So this current high temperature has set me all asunder. I find myself enjoying this spare moment but at the same time really worried about her and what it all means. More than likely it’s due to teething (contrary to my earlier statement that we have escaped any problems with that), but I’m just not sure and I feel pretty useless to be honest.

Moo is a very independent young lady. It’s wonderful. She’ll happily walk away from me and spend time with another adult (more so than spend time with another child at the moment. Although she’s recently developed a case of hero worship for my friend’s 5 year old daughter), and she constantly demonstrates an ability and desire to strive to do things on her own. She’s eaten everything by hand since just before 6 months old. I’ve never pureed anything and I’ve probably spoon fed her only a half dozen times – and that was either yoghurt or soup. Perfect for someone as lazy as me. Ooo, apart from I did puree her mash potato last night to see how it turned out in the Magimix. AMAZING by the way. She’s now using a fork to scoop and stab and a spoon to spread yoghurt on the table. She’s always been a self-soother and up until recently her night time wind down routine was: milk, brush teeth, put down in cot, close door, sleep.

I guess some of this may sound enviable? I don’t know. Does it? It’s certainly not easy. Don’t scoff! It isn’t, and I’ll tell you why –

When she’s in distress it’s very hard to calm her down. She doesn’t seem to want too much physical contact at those times so she’ll just sit or stand and scream her little lungs out. Her hands go out to the side and she performs her detuned aria with increasing volume and panic. It’s horrid. I am a particularly cuddly person. Always have been. I love them. It’s hard being a primary carer with a child that doesn’t seem to need or want cuddles. Earlier in her cot, she woke, sat up and started crying. So I went in to calm her. I asked her if she wanted to be picked up – No. I put my hand gently on her shoulder – she shoved it off. I put my hand gently on her back – She wriggled away from me. So I just sat down next to her cot and spoke softly to her until she lent forward and fell back to sleep.

It’s amazing to me that I hadn’t considered before I embarked on this adventure that we’d have to develop our own particular rules about how these things work. I thought it would always be a case of ‘she’s calm if she is in Mummy or Daddy’s arms’. But it isn’t always like that with her. Not at all. It’s such a wonderful demonstration of boundaries and what has to be developed as an appropriate response; and even more so when you consider I’m male and she’s female.

Yes, everything is really quite on her terms and she won’t really be pushed in to doing something she doesn’t want to do. Yes, that can be particularly hard sometimes. I wish I was her comfort blanket more often. BUT. Imagine my pride as a man and father of a girl who is already demonstrating her ability to choose what she wants physically from another person! Plus, when Moo does deem to give me a kiss and a cuddle it is the most breathtaking, heart pounding, life enhancing thing in the world. There is, however, an all too often correlation between her giving me a kiss and the moments when she wants to wipe that torrent of nose pollution on me… Less comfort blanket. More snot rag.

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