Wrapped around her little finger

They say that around the six-month mark, babies develop the ability to consciously manipulate their parents. We’ve been lucky with Maddi up until now, in that she is a happy little girl who is disappointed when things don’t go her way but who doesn’t really do anything about it.

The key words in that last sentence, in case you missed them, are “up until now.”

Now, there have been a few occasions of low-grade fussing when things were taken away from her. (Let me just say right now that the analogy “Like taking candy from a baby” was coined by someone who had very little exposure to infants!) And a week and a half ago, Maddi very nearly cajoled me into buying her a horrible toy with loud noise and flashing lights while we were at Toys ‘R’ Us shopping for another baby’s birthday. When I told her she couldn’t have that, she suggested I purchase an expensive keyboard for ages 3 and up.

This week, Maddi finally figured out that mildly fussing in her crib is a pretty ineffective way of getting parental attention when she doesn’t feel like napping, and that what really gets Mom and Dad running, no matter what, is her pain scream. So this afternoon, Maddi was playing in bed at naptime (her latest sleep-stalling tactic consists of doing pull-ups on her crib), when all of a sudden, ear-shattering screams echoed through the house. I raced into Maddi’s room, certain that she had somehow ejected herself from her crib or trapped a leg in its bars.

As I entered the room, our little daughter looked up from her screaming, beamed a huge smile at me and flapped hello. After checking to make sure all limbs were intact, I patted the dear wee one’s back, bade her farewell and made the slightest motion toward the door. Instantly, the pain scream resumed. I had been duped!

Of course, before I even finished walking down the hall, the nursery fell silent. I’m sure Maddi, as I type this, is dreaming up better ways to stall naptime, just as she has recently figured out that yanking my hair is always an effective way of being freed from her backpack carrier.

Despite her growing capacity for machination, however, Maddi continues to be very sweet-natured and agreeable for the most part. Even when she’s trying to snow us — for instance, she giggles and kicks in a most adorable manner when we’re tucking her in, so as to postpone bedtime — her nascent manipulations tend toward the amusing rather than the aggravating.

And when she pulls my hair out by the root as she thrashes around angrily in the backpack, I just tell myself, “At least she’s finally hit that social milestone.”

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In other news, Maddi has tired of crawling and has instead begun pulling up and climbing. She can now crawl over toys, people and laundry and has pulled up on her crib, dresser drawers, the baby gate, storage bins, laundry baskets and the bathtub. Maddi has also tried unsuccessfully to pull up via my hair, a closet door and a gliding ottoman (hence the big bruise on her forehead this week). She still does a little shaky-kneed hula when she’s standing, but I predict that will be worked out in the next few weeks. Maddi is ready to conquer the world!

And here’s our 38-week-old Bradley Assault Vehicle preparing for her next mission: busting her way out of Fort Crib.

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