Skills and thrills

This week was a big one for Maddi, with a few firsts and the continuation of what I was beginning to worry were lost skills.

Her first milestone occurred at playgroup on Tuesday, when — out of the blue — she stood for a good 30 seconds just playing with a toy. You may recall that in late March, Maddi stood on her own, but unfortunately, she didn’t make a habit of it and indeed, when prodded to stand or walk, would instantaneously lose all muscle tone in her lower body and behave very much like a sack of lead. I was beginning to think that, out of spite for those of us who wish her to perform like a trained monkey, Maddi would live out the rest of her life being conveyed about on my hip. But apparently, after watching several of her friends standing and walking, our wee one finally decided that bipedal mobility was no longer beneath her.

She stands for longer and longer stretches of time, often seemingly unaware of it as she fiddles with toys (and sometimes keenly aware of it as she drops those toys over the play yard onto the unsuspecting cat). Twice she has tried to walk, albeit unsuccessfully. More often, she opts for the old crawl-and-climb, since Maddi is a baby who knows enough to stick with what works well.

As a crawler and climber, Maddi is fearless. Take your eyes off her for two seconds (literally! Two seconds!) and she is clambering onto the hearth — or, as she did at the same playgroup session — up a few stairs, even though she hasn’t been allowed to practice on them at home. She has even been observed inserting a few toes into the diamond-shaped holes in her play yard and attempting to use the tenuous foothold to boost herself over the fence to sweet, glorious freedom. Because a 63-square-foot playyard is not playyard enough for this little girl.

Despite her, er, lively nature, the wee one nearly managed to escape her first year as a rough-and-tumble adventuress with nary a scrape (although plenty a bruise). Alas, a mere week and a half before her first birthday, our intrepid explorer has sustained her first fall.

Groggy from having just woken up and showered, I foolishly put her on the bed for just a second while I pulled a fresh bra from the drawer. Now, according to the literature, babies of this age are cautious after having experienced heights and will not go careening headfirst onto the floor. Unfortunately, Maddi a) is impetuous to say the VERY least and b) has always been watched too closely to have ever experienced a fall that wasn’t directly related to sitting or standing.

No sooner did I open the drawer than I heard an ominous rustling of sheets against hands and knees, quickly followed by a loud “thud.” I whirled around to behold my daughter doing a headstand on the floor and managed to catch a surprised Maddi before her body flopped onto the floor.

While my wee girl was screaming her little heart out (and while I was feeling like the worst mom this side of Britney Spears), I happened to notice another “first” — Maddi’s first chewing tooth. On her lower left jaw, there is what looked like half a bicuspid poking out from some very inflamed gum tissue. Sure enough, it was a tooth — and her upper right canine is thisclose to breaking through, too.

So now I know the reason for Maddi’s bad temper of late. Not that the Tylenol we’re giving her is helping much, but at least there’s a reason that she screams for 30 only seconds when she falls headfirst off a bed but lately fusses endlessly at naptime and bedtime.

As Maddi enters her very last week of babyhood, she’ll be easy to spot. She’s the baby who’s standing on two feet, sporting a big old premolar and a scraped-up countenance.

And here they are — the latest pictures of our 51-week-old girl!

No, she’s not allowed to do this!

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