Swaddling Elmo

Baby’s toys are mainly learning-driven: a half-dozen puzzles, lots of books, musical toys and a few sets of blocks. I’ve occasionally wondered whether I should add dolls and trucks to the mix. She might enjoy doting on a chubby little doll with long eyelashes, or filling a brightly painted steel Tonka truck with pebbles and then dumping them out. I decided to wait for a sign, a natural inclination to emerge from her, as to what I should get from the toy aisle on my next shopping trip.

On Monday I got my answer. While I curled my hair that morning, I noticed that Baby took one of her plush toys and began playing with it like it was a doll. She fed it from her sippy cup, carried it around gingerly and prepared to dress it in one of her bloomers. It was such a hoot to watch her intently pick up her garment and shake it out first. Later on in the week, Hubby told me that Baby got one of her burp cloths and wrapped it around Elmo, as if to swaddle him. And if all of that were not enough evidence, she took her plush macaw from Monday and she set it on her training potty this morning.

So I nabbed Little Sister to come with me on my after-breakfast errands, with Baby in tow. First I stopped at Babies R Us to get the right wipes, portable potty training seat for our upcoming vacation, and other supplies for a baby transitioning to a full-fledged toddler. After that, we went to Target, just across the way. We wheeled into one of the toy aisles , where a lot of the dolls must have had motion sensors in them, because whenever we moved this way or that, they would either coo, laugh or bounce up and down on their legs. I wondered whether we were in a robotic daycare, or if these creatures were all vying for our attention so we could take one of them home. Little Sister really got into it, a bit too much if you ask me, saying ‘I like this one,’ or ‘Look at that.’ I told her to focus. (We’ll have to deal with the gaps in her childhood experiences at another time.) We ended up getting a baby doll that had its own bottle. It laughs, snores softly while ‘asleep’, and whenever Baby puts the bottle to its mouth, its whole face scrunches up and it blinks its eyes, just like an enthusiastic eater. Baby seemed to be really into it, so I thought it would make a good starter doll.

After we got home and I attempted to feed her lunch, I settled Baby for a nap. That was almost three hours ago. I decided to get some shuteye too, after a bout of insomnia last night. About halfway through Baby’s nap, she woke up crying, and I brought her into my room, hoping to soothe her and maybe get her to sleep next to me for an hour. It didn’t work, because I (and my closed laptop) were distractions for her. So I brought her back to her crib and planted her there, ignoring her shrieks of protest until she settled back in.

There was an outdoor concert going on, with traditional-sounding Spanish music. It sounded a lot better than the garish forms of bachata and reggaeton that a lot of our neighbors typically prefer. The weather was (and still is) outstanding for late summer, with clear skies and a breeze that renders our ceiling fans unnecessary. I settled back down, hoping to squeeze in a restful 30 or 40 minutes before resuming chores. Summer seems to be getting ready to transition to fall, and Baby is changing too. I close my eyes and hope to get the most out of both.

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