Monday, October 11, 2010

Friends and Baby Aikido

As parents, I believe we are always playing catch-up - the ever-expanding "To Do" list. Carrie and I promised to complete Amari's baby book last summer when we both had time off. That promise was amended to "completed by her first birthday," which undoubtedly will be amended to "started by Christmas...New Year's...etc." We'll probably end up leaving it to her in a will - whoever dies last, that is.

In her first eleven months of life, Amari has two friends she sees on a regular basis - Reya and Hunter. And by friends I mean toddlers who like to beat on her and take her metaphorical lunch money. Amari still adores them, loves their visits, and is slowly cultivating her own methods of dealing with them.

Reya is two and a half and fully immersed in the Freudian "Mine" stage of development. Whether she is at home or away, Reya will peruse her surroundings and collect the toys that she wants to carry around with her - often but not limited to something that has Amari's interest. By the end of a visit Reya, arms full of toys and books, looks like Navin R. Johnson in "The Jerk" wandering around his mansion after he learns that he is going to lose everything in a class-action lawsuit against his multi-million dollar invention, the Opti-Grab. "I don't need any of this stuff," proclaims Johnson, "I don't need you or any of this...I need this (grabbing his remote control), but that's all, just this lamp, this remote control, and that's all I need...I need this," and so on.

Reya also likes to poke and hit, but she appears to be growing out of it thanks to her parents and her recent adventures in pre-school. Hunter, on the other hand, is only just beginning. On recent visits to the Calverts, Papa Jim and I have spent a good chunk of our time catching Hunter just before he is about to whack Amari with his hand or some small to medium throw-able toy. Hunter is also a taker, snatching toys away from Amari and putting them far out of reach with his advanced walking capabilities. Hunter appears to be getting better the more time he spends with Amari, but he is also getting sneakier, sometimes crawling innocently by her before turning to grab her hair or wonk her on the head.

Amari is months and years behind her friends, so although we may see these stages soon, for now she appears to be more of a pacifist with perhaps an edge of passive aggression. Instead of taking things, she offers toys to Reya or Hunter and then pulls them away at the last second with an implied, "Psych." After dinner on Friday, however, Amari tried a new, very entertaining trick. When Hunter tried to grab the remote from her, she held on tightly. When Hunter pulled harder, she let go and Hunter pulled the remote square into his face with a loud whack followed by a stunned look and a round of loud laughter from surrounding adults.

That has now been dubbed Baby Aikido, using your opponents strengths against them. Well done, Amari-san. Well, done. That'll teach Hunter to offend your honor.

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