Thursday, August 27, 2009

Records, CDs, Ipods, and Child Development

Olive welcomed a new cousin this past weekend. Adorable. My parents now have had three grandchildren born within a year to go along with their four year old granddaughter. The three new additions were all born close enough that they will likely be in the same grade. They could play each other in sports, they’ll all go to college the same year, and they’ll all get their license around the same time. In a few years, you won’t be able to tell which one is older than the other.

But right now they couldn’t be more different.

The oldest is about 10 months old. Olive is almost 5 months old. And the new little one isn’t even a week old. Right now she is a motionless, eating, crying, blob of cuteness. Seeing my new little niece wrapped up like a burrito in the white, blue, and pink striped blankets,a nd seeing her parents trying to figure out diapers and clothes and a floppy neck brought back a lot of memories. Less then five months ago, that was my daughter, and that was me and my wife. Olive couldn’t smile, didn’t look at us, couldn’t summon the strength or manage the coordination to grab a rattle. She slept for most of the day and pooped or peed what seemed like every 15 minutes. It took almost an hour to nurse her and if you gave her a bottle it was only 2-3 ounces. You couldn’t pick her up or move her without sliding a gentle hand underneath her head and cradling her like an overfilled water balloon.

Now? She stares you down; won’t take her eyes off you, even from across the room. She can make noises when she is excited or happy or sad that don’t have any resemblance to crying. She rolls over and even pushes herself forward when on stomach. You can’t give her a kiss on the forehead without running the risk that she’ll grab a clump of your hair. She sucks down eight ounce bottles and it takes 15 or 20 minutes to nurse her. She smiles when someone she knows comes in a room. She bears almost no resemblance to her newborn cousin or that person she was not too long ago. I almost can’t remember what it was like.

Her older cousin, however, can stand up. He crawls around the floor like a bat out of hell. He laughs out loud. He not only eats solid food, but sits up in his high chair and grabs at little yogurt bits and biscuits. He is playing with toys that Olive can’t even get her little hand around. And the size of him. He just seems so much bigger and more stable. You can toss him in the air and tickle him and roll around with him. I simply can’t imagine Olive that way. How will she become that baby?

But it will happen. In a few months she will be crawling. Soon after, walking. And I’ll look back and not be able to remember the time when she couldn’t do either.

As a parent, it is easy to miss the day-to-day development. Sure, you notice when they first roll over or when they crack the first smile. But when did rolling over become routine? When did I start seeing that smile so much that I started taking it for granted? She’ll spend a half hour on her tummy playing with a toy, but not too long ago she would scream the second we put her down. When did that change and how come I didn’t notice.

It is like music. If you are around my age you probably grew up a lot of records in your house. Then you moved to tapes. But do you remember the first time you noticed there wasn’t a record player in your house? I remember distinctly the Christmas my brothers and I got our first CDs – Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, and Genesis were all involved – but how in the world did I amass a notebook full of CDs in only a few short years. When did it become the standard? I went to college in a car without a tape player and a CD holder on my visor. Now? Everything is on an ipod. I remember getting my first ipod, but I can’t remember when decided that CDs really didn’t belong in my car anymore. How did I go from mix-tapes to mix-cds to shuffle on my ipod so fast?

When you have a kid you remember certain moments and certain events. But day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month, things move so quickly that you just can’t keep up. But now Olive has a pair of cousins that will act as bookends. I can remind myself of the things that I have a hard time remembering, and prepare myself for moments that I won’t want to forget.

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