During a recent weekend visit to Nan and Pop’s lakeside cottage in Pennsylvania country, I saw just how much the little one we used to bottle-feed every three hours ’round-the-clock is, well, not so little anymore:
She held and “petted” a caterpillar (or two or three; good-goddess, I stopped counting) after seeing her six-year-old cousin Cleo do it, and this mama stood back and held her breath in fear she would hold them a little too tightly. (Silly mama, no need to worry. She’s quite the gifted caterpillar-holder if I do say so myself. No squishing to be had.)
Maeve greeted her Nan (Tom’s mom) with “Hi Cuuuu-teeeee!” every time she saw her and I have no idea where that came from. Actually, now that I think about it, in addition to “grandma,” she calls my mom “Cookie,” which actually is my mom’s nickname for her. Maybe Maeve’s just repeating to them what she hears them say to her, convinced these must be their names. Ah, to be so loved!
One morning she walked with her daddy down to the lake and watched her cousins, and aunt and uncle go out canoeing. I took the solitary moments to relax in the shade back at the cottage, listening to the birds, admiring the flowers and watching the trickle of a gentle fountain. When I finally saw them in the distance, trekking up the long driveway toward the cottage, she was riding on daddy’s shoulders.
Maeve kicked a soccer ball with her Pop (Tom’s dad), back and forth, back and forth. (Well, he kicked forth and she kicked as close to back as her little legs and 22-month-old coordination would allow.) At some point during the weekend, I was passing through a room and overheard Tom saying something about the next Mia Hamm. Rrright. No pressure, Maeve.
While at the beach a few afternoons, she walked right into the water, afraid of so little and open to so much. Loved to be twirled and spun, floated like a fish, and lifted high into the air only to come gently splashing to the water below. Deep belly laughs. Random swallows of lakewater were no deterrent from such summer splendor. During her first few moments in the lake she put out her arms and belly-flopped forward — something she’s taken to at home, onto the floor, a pillow, or a blanket she piles into something resembling a landing zone. Although I saw it coming and was mere inches away, I couldn’t prevent her face from going under a bit. By the look on her waterlogged face, she’d clearly mistaken the smooth lakewaters for a soft — yet still firm — landing-pad friend.
Maeve fetched countless buckets of water from the lake for her castle-crafting cousins Cleo and Owen. Although the buckets lost about one-third their water by the time she made her way through the sand up to the castle workstation, she was so pleased to be part of the project. As she traversed the beach to her destination, she’d proudly singsong, “Watah Cleooooo.”
At one point, Tom was asleep in our family cabana and from the water she said — in a voice far too quiet for him to ever hear her some 50 feet away — “Wake up daddy, up! Watah! Watya doin’? Watah!”
Maeve took way too easily to Cleooooo’s pink butterfly purse, wallet and pink phone. (We are in so much trouble.)
Oh — and most shocking to this mama-in-denial: She rode (with a helpful push) on a tricycle for the very first time.
Yes, a tricycle, people.
(What? Don’t scoff! This may not sound like a big deal, but need I remind you that this apparatus is designed for childhood mobility independent of parental influence? Next she’ll be asking for my car keys. And 20 bucks. And there had better not be any eye-rolling or lip-smacking.)
Is there a Pause Button on her somewhere that I’ve managed to miss? I ask all of you, surely much wiser than me in this Thing Called Parenting:
Where did my baby go?