Monday, January 4, 2010

Mr. Jones and Me

Sometimes when I go to sleep at night I half expect to wake up the next day to find that Amari is all grown up - crawling, walking, talking, or god forbid dating. I know from my own experience that perception will one day play tricks on me, that when I'm beaming with pride as she accepts her high school diploma it will feel like only yesterday that she was flipping herself over with the fiercest determination.

Today time plays no tricks - it was in fact yesterday that Amari pushed herself up onto her forearms and twisted her way from belly to back in what probably felt like the longest thirty seconds of her life. I was stunned. I guess that's how milestones work - they just sneak up on you. Two days earlier I'd noticed her neck was much stronger as she pushed her way into a yogic upward facing dog and held her head there while she took in her surroundings. I held my hands close to her face, but they were obsolete scaffolding in that moment. I may have been projecting, but I'm pretty sure she looked proud of herself.

Yesterday, we were by the bay window/diaper changing station when I placed her face down for her daily recommended dose of tummy time. On previous occasions, she would fuss and grunt and try in vain to push herself forward with her legs. This time, however, without complaint or hesitation, she tucked her left forearm close to her chest and pushed mightily as she arched her back. I thought nothing of it until she turned her head away from me and used its weight to leverage her body over her left shoulder. Her head, which I'm often convinced is responsible for at least eight of her nine pounds, and the laws of physics were exactly what she needed. Once it was in motion gravity did the rest. Her head dropped limply to the towel beneath her, and she very naturally twisted her lower body to follow. That was it - just like that she was lying on her back.

I couldn't believe it, and Amari looked pretty startled, too. I was convinced the cushion must have a downward slope, so I immediately turned her back onto her belly, adjusted the pillow, and let her try again. Her second flip was more effortless and less surprising, but still without witnesses. My dad had been visiting all week, so I called him in for an encore. Amari did it again, but she was clearly getting a little annoyed that she kept ending up back on her stomach after all her effort. After the fourth time, I let her rest a while before requesting one last performance for the video camera. She did not disappoint, and my only regret is that I didn't record the one where I pretended to be a sports caster at the Infant X Games describing Amari's off-season workout routine as she prepared for this sacred event.

After such an exhausting morning, the only thing left for an inherently competitive father to do was to Google a milestones chart to find out how my daughter matches up developmentally with the Baby Joneses. I don't like to brag (two months early), but it looks like a certainty that Amari will be the left-handed Michael Jordan of North Coast Daycare League. I intend to buy her a basketball today.

Tomorrow - who knows? Maybe a high school graduation.

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