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Monday, October 21, 2002  

We went down to Iowa this past weekend to see Deniece (Trash’s brother’s daughter, for those of you who’ve forgotten). She’s nine months old now, and she’s talking with considerable fluency. Except her primary language appears to be Navajo, so that’s a little bit inconvenient for those of us who haven’t learned it yet. She does know a few English words, like “dada” and “oboe” and “Walla Walla.” She can’t seem to use them in context yet, but since she’s never seen a double-reed woodwind instrument, been to Washington State, or participated in an early twentieth-century avant-garde movement that sought to redefine the meaning of art, I can’t blame her for not wanting to just wait around until those subjects crop up in conversation.

She also has a lot more mobility than she did the last time we saw her. Back in August, her standard method of locomotion was dragging herself across the floor with her hands like a little sandworm. I sandworm with hands, granted, but you get the idea. Now she can crawl, but she prefers to pull herself up next to the coffee table or some other piece of furniture and sort of walk along that way. I thought about suggesting that my brother-in-law install a network of low railings so she can navigate the whole house by herself, but I soon realized that wasn’t such a swell idea. Judging by her behavior, some little gremlins are singing to her from inside the electrical outlets and she’s pretty keen to fish the little guys out of there. I don’t know what they’re singing, but it seems like a good bet that they’re sending her subliminal commands to spill everyone’s beverages. So maybe her dad shouldn’t facilitate her activities until those activities start being a little more constructive.

And she’s graduated to baby food. Fortunately, she’s still at the stage where she can eat baby food, but not yet at the stage where she’s figured out how to not eat baby food. She’ll be sitting in her chair, just looking around at everyone, soaking up all the attention, and then she’ll be all, “Hey! I have a mouthful of pre-masticated peas! How’d that happen?” So she’ll swallow that, get back to what she was doing, and—“What? Again? Fine, let me swallow this so I can go back to wiggling. Hey, look at me, I’m wiggling! Look at me wiggle! I can—d’oh! Okay, swallowing, swallowing, but this is the last time. I’m not opening my mouth again. I’ve got a lot of wiggling to do here. Hey, what’s that thing touching my bottom lip? I’ll just check it out with my—oh, goddammit!!

Besides, what she really likes is Cheerios™. There the ideal combination of a fun shape and something she can stick in her mouth and not get it taken out. Thus she puts away about a box per week.

Deniece has always been a bit of a flirt, and now she seems to understand that dinner is an occasion that carries special romantic potential. She’ll smile fetchingly at you, apparently unaware that the come-hither effect is somewhat marred by the Linda-Blair-spew-looking stuff encrusting the lower half of her face (and an expanding segment of the upper half, after she sticks her fingers in her mouth and rubs her eyes). The overall impression is an unsettling combination of “Look at how cute I am!” and “Keep away! The sow is mine!

There’s one other thing she does now that she didn’t do before: clapping. Her execution isn’t quite spot on yet, but she’s got a pretty clear grasp on the concept. Sometimes she’ll need to be prompted and sometimes she won’t, but she’s pretty much always up for giving herself a hand. Then everybody will smile really big and clap back at her and call her a good girl, and she’ll bask in the spotlight, blissfully unaware that it’s going to take a lot more than that to impress the admissions department at Harvard.

She’s a really happy kid, which is great. She seems to have figured out that things are going pretty well for her overall. And as much as we miss her and wish we could see her every day (okay, every other day), it’s interesting to see how much she’s grown over a period of a couple of months. For instance, now that she can clap, gripping fingers is so for six-month-olds. When she cries now, it’s because she wants something and not because every fiber of her being is suffused with black, bottomless despair. And since she’s learning how to get around, it’s no longer safe to just park her on top of the refrigerator for a couple of hours while the folks go shopping.

So that’s the latest with Deniece. No need to thank me; I’m happy to perform this service for all of you who have never come in contact with a miniature human before. You’re welcome.

posted by M. Giant 3:27 PM 0 comments


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