Hazel really wants to wear underpants overnight, so we’ve put a protective cover on the mattress, and we’ll see. We’ll have to figure out the best combination of night lights and timing so that she can see to go the bathroom at night, but the lights don’t keep her up. Ted and I are both feeling a bit like deer in the headlights; we never expected this to happen so rapidly. We’re trying to just go with it, and I’m hoping to get at least a few hours of sleep tonight. This is definitely one of those yay!/whoa!/huh? moments endemic to parenthood.
Our regular morning nanny is back tomorrow, having been out of the country for two weeks. When I told her she was coming back, Hazel said, “Yay! I missed her. I love her.” And then, “She’ll be really excited that I’m potty trained now!” So sweet.
This afternoon, since school was off for Veterans’ Day, one of my students came to the house to have an early lesson. His mom played with Hazel during his lesson, and I heard a lot of laughter and general sounds of enjoyment. That was great. Afterwards, she was telling me how much she enjoyed Hazel, and she said, repeatedly, “She’s so smart!” It’s lovely to hear that, and I am glad they had so much fun together. Having done some reading on the value of focusing on actions and effort rather than attributes, however, I often fumble my reply when people say that about Hazel. I tend to talk about how she’s very verbal (another attribute), which means that it’s really fun to talk with her. Thinking about how much we do default to talking about attributes, though, reminded me of discussions in my writing course about adjectives, and the desirability of using well-chosen expressive verbs instead. I remember how in eighth grade (I think it was eighth, but that was multiple decades ago, and so I can’t be sure), I had a habit of using three adjectives in a row. I don’t remember whether I realized this on my own, or had it pointed out to me by a teacher. But despite my initial resistance, I am now coming to understand how excessive adjective use can be a cop-out. I think, similarly, that we default to attributes because it’s easier. At least, that is true for me. It takes more energy and more creativity to communicate in a more engaged way about what a child does, likes, notices, thinks about rather than just using a label to describe who that person is. I am attempting to make the effort in some sort of consistent way, though. It helps me get to know my daughter better, spawn better conversations, and show her that I’m engaging with her and her world.
Similarly, today the temporary nanny was “playing” (not really) with Hazel, who set up some cardboard boxes (part of a stacking set) in a row, and put stuffed animals in them. Instead of asking questions, the nanny kept just telling Hazel what she (Hazel) was doing, who would just parrot what the nanny said when I asked. I won’t go so far as to say that the nanny was lazy, but she certainly wasn’t engaging with Hazel in the way our regular, wonderful nannies do. In fact, in the days she was here she spent a lot of time in the bathroom, and a certain amount of time on her phone. It’s ok, it’s only for a short time. But we wouldn’t hire her for a longer period.
This morning I called a friend to check in, and Hazel wanted to talk to him. She got on the phone and proceeded to have a very adult and caring conversation with him. Hazel: “How are you feeling?” “Oh, that’s too bad, poor A. How is P feeling?” I love that she’s interested in other people, that she takes the time to ask about them, and that she is learning to form intimate, caring relationships at such a young age. I cannot believe how fast she’s growing up! I know; that’s the parental refrain. But to hear it is one thing, to live it quite another.
So, we cherish moments right and left, and write some of them down so that we’ll be able to recollect them when our mental faculties are even further enfeebled.