Yesterday, after almost seven weeks away from home, I realized with a mixture of excitement but also not a small bit of sadness that Elisabeth is becoming a child. I have called her a “baby” for over a year now and I’m resisting letting that noun that has become a constant for me for so long go away. Even as I type this, I feel a little teary. But there’s no getting around it, Elisabeth is growing up. A mixture of so many things are making me realize this. Of course it’s obvious markers of age: the clothes that we brought with us suddenly look faded and small. And her precious REI cap with the flaps that she’s worn since she was almost five months old is now a bit too tight. But there are subtle changes too.
Elisabeth’s interests are different. The swings at the local playground don’t seem to fascinate her as much as they did initially. And this was one of my recent lightbulb moment that she was moving from a baby into a child. I popped her into one but Elisabeth wanted to explore in the sand, get feet and hands wet in the faux brook that kids can create with a hand pump. She wasn’t drawn to these things before. Getting her feet and hands gritty with sand is suddenly appealing to her.
Elisabeth has always wanted to interact with other children, as long as they are her age or older. She LOVES children and always wants to be involved in their play. But now Elisabeth tries to communicate with them as well. She touches them and “talks” and sometimes they talk back. This fascinates and delights her. It is so easy sometimes to make a
baby child happy. Set this one down amidst other kids and she joins right in the secret game.
The play in our small vacation apartment is more sophisticated too. Elisabeth put Mr. Fox in and out of a bedside table drawer twenty times yesterday. In and out. In and out. Then she added diapes, puzzle pieces and DB Dino. Finally bored, she scooted away, onto the next thing. We also played a “shell game” of sorts with me “hiding” a small plastic piece in one hand and Elisabeth trying to guess which hand it was in. She laughed so hard, delighted, even when she was wrong.
The biggest change, of course, has been her guided walking with me. We started in the wading pool at the thermal baths. Elisabeth is so tall that I almost don’t have to bend over when I hold her hands. She walked across the pool, stopped when she dropped her cup, picked it up and then we walked back. The following day we walked right out of the pool, toward out blanket and the grass. I think I was holding my breath the whole time.
And there are a dozen other small differences too. Elisabeth mimics our faces, “plays” with herself in the full-length mirror, understands the word “gentle”, and seems to say “fish”. What treasures each of these new little successes. My husband and I watch her, astounded sometimes and what we see her doing on a daily basis.
Growing up is so invisible. Somehow I thought it would be more obvious but it seems only to be noticeable if you pay close attention…which I am trying to get better at. And now? She’s napping, in her crib, looking very much like the baby I’ve always known. Of course, it will likely all change tomorrow. The swings once again will be what Elisabeth points to with glee. But maybe not.