Saturday, April 29, 2006

the seventh month round-up

And for the love of wee little piggies, do let me finish this before the seventh month is the child's eighth. Oy. Repeat after me: will finish that which I start. Will finish that which I start. Will walk into a room and remember why I am there. Um, sure. Any day now. Okay, the seventh month. Let's start with the ever-popular....

If I ever intimated that the child is placid, I hereby withdraw the opinion and abase myself as a poor poker player. Clearly, the infant was bluffing, and caught his naive parent off-guard. Nope, not placid. Determined, sweet-natured, earnest and prepared to be patient - but not placid. When this child is happy, he's a comically joyous figure, his enormous smile nearly enveloping his poor ravaged face (eczema is not exactly aesthetic, ya know). He's delightfully pleased to be engaged by his chosen circle of adults (and the one, crucial chosen child), and cautiously thoughtful about others who wish to engage with him.

Physically, I'm watching him come into his own. This is a fun stage, as over the next two or three months he'll gain serious mobility and begin to terrorize the house. Already he's managed to grab a plastic bag out of his brother's hands and shove it into his mouth, causing his father to swerve off an Israeli highway while his mother rappelled down the side of the car to save him from choking. Yup, fun days are a-comin'. Whee.

Currently, the child can move backwards handily, and can crawl forwards only - and only I say - if he doesn't think about it. Drivers of a stick shift will understand this conundrum, but muscle memory must remain just that, in a true example of that which must not be over-thought. I'll watch the baby crawl a step, then two towards me. He then pauses, realizing what he's done, and continues the motion....backwards. He then becomes increasingly frustrated, and concludes the effort by roaring with fury while his parent finds herself torn between empathy and giggles. Occasionally he rescues himself by curling himself from his stomach onto his bottom, and from that seated position he repeats the whole process as his parent suppresses a sigh.

Luckily he has at least one laurel to cling to, and that's his swift success with pulling himself up to standing. He might waggle about drunkenly once he's standing, but his proficiency in rising is inarguable. At this stage, along with his mobility and ability to grab carelessly waved choking hazards, the baby's allergies have really been thrown into relief. Or, precisely, not relief. I had long dismissed eczema as the bastion of anxiety for those allergy mums not blessed with more serious issues to worry about. Now, it's the bane of my existence, as the child scratches his skin into shreds, scratches himself in his sleep and destroys all hope of a good night's rest for us both. He and I are now the most reliable sources I know for reports as to whether the weather is dry or humid - a glance at his skin and the bags under my eyes will give any knowledgeable analyst all the date they need. Sigh. I do believe we've arrived at the point where I'd be almost relived to hear that another, as yet unidentified allergy was causing this. I might have to remove something painfully vital from our diet, but at least I'd get to sleep at night...

Yes, the baby has grown in complexity, in sheer force of presence and personality. I'm as awed this time as I was the last to watch this little character emerge from his infant body. And extremely entertained by the lovely baby babble that he offers up: his proud array of b, g and d sounds are soundly trounced by the sheer pathos of his 'm' sound. 'M,' that is, as in the ultimate sound of need: 'muuuum, muum, muum, mum!'

The Child:
As charming as ever, our older son is a minor force of nature. For a while I was worried that I'd lost the skill of keeping a sharp eye for his personal meteorology and that it was spinning out of control, and into an el nino pattern - but now I know I've merely been distracted. Very, very distracted. But when I put all else aside and focus, there he is, excited, passionate and fascinating. What a reward!

Currently, he is writing. Not, mind you, reading, but instead taking pleasure in forming letters on a page, and linking those letters to meaning. This is typical of the child, who prefers kinetic activities, or, as his teachers point out, anything that involves his entire body, preferably at top speed. So, he writes standing up... Yesterday, he painstakingly wrote out the shopping list for our trip to TJ's: cucumbers, scallions, soy milk, etc. This morning, he labelled a drawing of an extraordinarily hairy person as "MUMMY." He then paused thoughtfully, and added an exclamation point. "This means that I'm done with my sentence," he explained. Ah, the exclamation points of small boys - so much better than the sullen ellipses of teenagerhood.

He's in an interesting phase in the process of gaining literacy. While fascinated by the patterns of letters, he's nonetheless not really intrigued by the game of 'recognize that?' or 'sound that out!' He is, however, excited by the idea of numbers. It is at moments like these that I feel much empathy for my MIL, who sadly tells the tale of reading to her little boy, who would listen patiently and then point to the page. 'That's a two,' she'd tell him. 'That's a three.' So long as the kid will listen to the story, I'm happy. And he will. His father and he have worked their way through the Wizard of Oz, and a goodl chunk of AA Milne. And magid has a wonderful list of what might come next!

Despite his interest in a skill that is light years beyond his baby brother's abilities, he is still delighted in his little sib, playing and chatting with the baby. Increasingly, he wants to exert his independance in taking care of his sib, helping the baby stand or taking away his toys in the name of a shaky idea of safety. But I notice also the early signs of impatience with this small person, whose lengthy probation period has yet to yield a proper playmate. On the other hand, as the Carrot Bag Incident proves, he also consistently underestimates his sib's skills. Well and so, after all his mother often does the same.

The Mama and the Papa:
Not nearly as developmentally intriguing as our offspring, we're bumbling along. My partner has been making highly readable strides, and managed to survive his yearly venture onto Israeli highways (more on that coming). Flattened by his first real illness since college mono, he's now blessed with a burgeoning understanding of what it means to be dog-sick. Bleeeahh. More important from his perspective, he finally dodged his monthly post-major meeting work funk (yay!), for which we peasants are duly grateful. It's been his corporate wage slave variant on PMS, and it was hang-dog sad. Thankee, sir for the paradigm shift...

The mama has ventured into vegan baking (have egg and dairy allergic kids, will seek out comfort pastry), and it's been reasonably successful. Pear-ginger cake, anyone? And dipped a toe into writing children's stories (more on that in August, I hope). And I've been polishing my skill with very tiny needles. As of this past week, we are now almost completely independant of our nurses, with regards to my eldest's prophylactic medical regimen. Almost. It's taken well over a year of practice and patience (from our nurses, not from us), but our family is now within spitting distance of day to day independance, medically speaking. Just in time for the baby to decide that he absolutely despises the car, and will roar methodically should we try and drive any distance with him. Yup. But who am I to argue? At moments like this, his elder brother would come up with immunological plot twists. A little volume, as heartwrenching as it is, is nonetheless amateur hour in this family.

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