Alice dislikes to have clothing pulled over her head.

Dislikes so much, in fact, that she has started holding her breath and thrashing her arms until it’s over.

But on the other hand, she has been a real trooper about these new teeth of hers.

Two of them. On the bottom. One all the way through and the other still just under her gums.

All of a sudden, she stopped sleeping through the night, and then a couple of days later there was a tooth. That’s it. I mean, I suppose she’s been slightly crankier, and her day care says she hasn’t been eating as enthusiastically as usual. But no fever, no really terrible crying, no shirt-drenching slobber.

I was thinking about that bath thermometer I put on my baby registry.

Like, did I think I would forget how “too hot” feels? It was hard to trust that I’d know what to do. Easy to want some kind of confirmation that I was doing it right.

During the banshee period of Alice’s infancy, I bought this book. I almost paid for overnight shipping. It more or less validated the campaign of appeasement we had already begun: rock her, bounce her, swaddle her, play music for her, play static for her, play running water for her. Try two at once, try three at once, try them all at once. And so on.

And that was reassuring. It really was.

A few months later, after a night of truly wretched sleep and on the recommendation of someone David knows, we bought this book, which more or less told us we were going about it all wrong. But THEN I read something scary about it and put it away.

Not too long afterward, Alice slept straight through from 7:30 at night until 6 the next morning. All on her own, when she was ready. Then she did it again. And then again, and again and again, until just recently. And we know what that’s about. The teeth.

It’s like this: I really like recipes. So much. But I can get a little rigid about following them. I am reluctant to substitute. I do not eyeball; I measure. To extend the metaphor, may I suggest that bringing Alice home was an experience less like following a recipe and more like being handed a sack of ingredients and being told to do my best with them. (And trust my instincts).

And now? We’re all so much sturdier. More confident. (Teething?  Is that all you got?) I am not so crazy as to think we have it all figured out. But we have at least a toehold, and that feels good.

Hates getting dressed, but loves kisses.


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