Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Summer Boy and Winter Girl

Before my son was born I did a lot of reading on infant temperament.  There's something romantic to me in the idea that we are born with certain pieces of our personalities present --but hidden-- behind baby behaviors, coded in both their DNA and their daily cues.  That babies hold mysterious secrets about who they'll eventually turn out to be, and that we can decipher them if we observe closely.

I wish I had written down my predictions about my son as I watched him carefully in the weeks after he was born.  What I remember now is bound to be woven with the threads I've spun into his story ever since, and it would be tough to unravel the original from more recent interpretations.  I remember thinking he would be an easy kid, because he was an easy baby, and so far that seems right.  Sometimes I wonder if he's really the easy kid I choose to call him, or if I tell that story because infant-and-toddler-hood is a stage I like, and because I want it to be true.  But then my mom spent a week with him and confirmed it, mentioning without any provocation:  He's an easy kid.  So maybe it's not just me.

I watch my daughter intently each day to see who she might be.  I compare her to her brother, her father, to myself.  I look for clues in her cries, her sleeping smiles, how she seeks comfort and how she tells us what she needs.  She seems more particular than her brother was, more certain of what she wants, and more prepared to tell you if you're getting it wrong.  My son is easy to redirect.  She might prove to be tougher.  On the other hand, she already seems to exhibit signs of greater independence, seeking ways to self-soothe even at two weeks, and frequently succeeding.  She doesn't always need us when she fusses, and sometimes when we offer ourselves she lets out a wail that seems to say leave me alone, I'm getting there!

She's more of a fusser and a grunter, generally speaking, than my son was.  He lay quietly comfortable until he wanted something from you, and then he cried.  She tosses and stretches, contorts her face into little caricatures of cuteness, grunts, squeals and squirms, and then settles back down.  She's working things out.  She's checking to see what works for her.  She'll let you know when she finds it, or when she wants your assistance.  Believe me, when she wants you, you'll know.

Until then, take a seat.  Settle in with a blanket to match the fresh one of snow we found this morning when we opened the curtains.  Watch the winter wind outside, cup your warm mug in your chilly hands, and cuddle in close.  Enjoy the cuteness.  Like the winter, and hopefully the baby weight that seems as frighteningly endless from this vantage point as this long Upstate season usually does, it will soon pass into something else entirely.  And it will be gone.  So sink into the comfort of the couch.  Watch the baby.  Wonder.  Marvel.  And remember to breathe. 


  1. Your blog is truly beautiful! I love reading your entries and often wish I had the time to go back to read all the previous ones!

  2. This is a gorgeous piece of writing. Especially the last paragraph... I'm totally there with you. In a mental way, not in a "creepy sitting in your bushes" way.