Head and shoulders

Like most parents, Chris and I like to think that our precious daughter will grow up to have the beauty of a supermodel, the athleticism of an Olympian and the brains of an Ivy Leaguer. With two such beautiful parents and quite the auspicious start, we think the first is highly probable (thanks to Daddy, she may even have the height of a supermodel), and on the intellectual front, well, we can only hope the Mozart I play while I’m rocking her is working — and that the “Real Gilligan’s Island” marathon I watched while nursing isn’t. But while we can only cross our fingers on the beauty and brains, I am pretty sure Maddi’s already got the brawn part covered.

Because she equates the absence of comforting arms around her to being tormented with hot pokers, Maddi doesn’t get as much tummy time as I would like her to have. Not only do I hate seeing that sad, quivery expression and those accusatory little tear-filled eyes, but I am afraid the neighbors will call the authorities when they hear the frantic screams our tiny princess emits when she is placed on her tummy away (and therefore away from Mommy’s or Daddy’s cozy embrace).

However, when the wee one is in a good mood, all fed and changed and burped and napped, I do try to put her on her belly on a blanket for a few minutes a day so she can exercise her little muscles. While those few minutes often end up being approximately three seconds, on Thursday she managed to contain her desperation for a while and exercise body parts other than her lungs.

Owing to my tubful-of-poo-induced back injury, I hadn’t given her tummy time in nearly two weeks, but apparently she’s been finding other ways of working out. My guess is that the 100 or so vertical pushups she does during each burp session have given her extraordinary bicep strength, in addition to giving us frequent updates on how well her neck muscles are doing.

As usual, I put Maddi down on the blanket Thursday to play. While I’m used to her raising her head and looking straight ahead, and even getting her shoulders off the ground, I was not prepared for our little angel’s latest trick.

This little, not-quite-seven-week-old baby not only lifted her head and shoulders. but raised herself on her arms, pushup-style, so that her chest was completely off the ground and her head was looking up at me. Then she grabbed the blanket and pulled it toward her, in what could be construed by delusional parents as an obvious effort to crawl off, get a contract with Ford Models, and solve each and every one of the Millennium Problems.

This is her most impressive feat to date, but not the only thing she’s got in her bag of tricks. She has also recently mastered the art of scooting about on her back, which means that no matter how snug the sleep positioner is around her sides, she can use those sturdy little legs to wriggle her way up the mattress until her head hits the end of the crib. Another trick is the binky toss, in which she grabs the pacifier from her mouth and flings it anywhere from two to five feet, then wails frantically because she has lost her suckie. Yesterday’s record-setting binky toss was executed from the change table, where the pacifier was thrown over the rocker, landing just short of the crib, which is situated on the opposite wall from the point of execution. I would be proud that little Maddux can pitch like her namesake, except that her new skill requires me to constantly sanitize pacifiers, a time-consuming chore that takes time away from things Maddi places a higher priority on: being fed, being changed out of poopy, spitupy clothing, and being fed again because the pooping and spitting up left room for more food.

She was such an active little fetus that none of this should surprise me, but somehow it does — every time she does something new.

As I finish writing this, Maddi is practicing for her next trick — the inevitable escape from the confines of her bouncy seat. As usual, her lungs are about to get some exercise as well. What new feats of physical fitness will she be performing next week? No one knows. At the rate she is going, I will be chasing her down the block.

I knew we should have placed more importance on looks and brains! What have we gotten ourselves into?

And here is the seven-week picture of our little athlete in what looks to be karate practice:

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