Christmas with the crank

Who’s fat, jolly and loved the world over? Why, babies, of course!

Nothing is more delightful — or more anticipated — than baby’s first Christmas! The sweet keepsake ornaments! The carefully picked-out presents! The photo opportunities!

It’s potentially a lot of fun for the baby too. The crackly wrapping paper and inviting ribbons! The relatives to charm! Drink glasses and trays of snacks just out of reach! New, unsuspecting cats left completely unattended! It’s enough to keep a baby up four hours past bedtime!

Now between this, and the fact that our little doll both is cutting teeth and has a cold, you would think that this would be a recipe for disaster and that Maddi would have a complete meltdown at Christmastime.

But that is the thinking of the uninitiated. As Maddi’s keepers, Chris and I know that as long as there are people to shower our darling daughter with attention and play exciting games of tickle and peek-a-boo, she will be perfectly happy. So when — without her afternoon nap — our little reveler closed the party on Christmas Eve only to awaken before the adults on Christmas morning, we were not too terribly shocked when she again was in high spirits despite only eight hours of sleep and another full day with absolutely no napping.

Maddi frolicked in the wrapping paper. She buried herself in toys. She managed to trick new cats into being petted, Mommy into bringing beverages within reach and cousins into taking hundreds of photographs. (Thankfully, cousin Jennie managed to do some tricking of her own and got Maddi laughing hard enough to show her new lower incisors for her very first pictures with teeth!)

But what goes up must come down. On Christmas night, well after her usual bedtime, I foolishly attempted to put Maddi down for a few hours while the other grown-ups enjoyed a game of euchre and I attempted to catch a few winks after my second consecutive week of sleeping not more than five hours a night. But lo, less than an hour after I put the wee one down, I heard baby noises. And there was our little Energizer bunny, in her Nana’s arms, wide awake as you please.

After an hour’s drive, we got the baby home at a ridiculous hour and, for the first time in weeks, I laid her in her crib asleep. Alas! It was not to be! They say sleep begets sleep, and apparently the opposite is true as well: Crazy begets crazy.

Maddi was up at 1 a.m. and 3 a.m., although she slept in until the unheard-of hour of 10 and napped again from 11 to 2. But, like a junkie after a weeklong binge, Maddi came crashing violently down today from her adrenaline bender. She hopped from toy to toy to toy, but took little joy in her playing. I couldn’t stray from within three feet of our poor little girl without her bursting into frantic tears. She couldn’t decide whether she wanted Daddy or Mommy and her afternoon nap stretched so long into the evening that I had to wake her up so I could bathe her for the first time in three days before putting her down for the night.

Our baby, who is usually quite jovial in the tub, cried her eyes out for the first half of her bath, barely held it together for the second, and cried piteously when she reached out for me and I took her out of the tub — because, apparently, she wanted both a bath AND Mommy (who knew?).

As a byproduct of teething and having a cold at once, Maddi has gone from enjoying bedtime to fighting it violently, burying her face in my shoulder when we near the crib, laughing and kicking when I put her down in an attempt to stall my exit, and wailing furiously when I head for the doorway. Thus, what once took five minutes now takes close to an hour, as I return time and time again to her room, rub her back and sing to her, and rinse and repeat as often as necessary. We can only hope that she goes back to her old self when the cold has run its course and her little top teeth have erupted.

Add to that the fact that she is thisclose to crawling and has suddenly realized that Mommy is an entirely separate entity from Maddi and can leave the room and, quite possibly, never come back, and you have a recipe for some really fun holiday times. No longer can she go in the playpen while I use the bathroom, run her bathwater or do a load of dishes or laundry. At least not while Daddy is on the phone doing business, because Maddi lets it be known that she does not approve of Mommy leaving her line of sight (or, today, an arm’s reach). This, along with wrapping and nighttime teething pain and coughing fits, is why every night for a few weeks I’ve been up until the wee hours of the morning.

We are hoping that Maddi will be in a better mood after having had a few good night’s sleeps and some semblance of her routine.

Otherwise, she may be fat and festively dressed, but she sure won’t be jolly — and neither will her keepers!

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