L, who will be 16 months old next week, still loves the mamamilk. There was no grand plan to the Care and Feeding of L. She took many a bottle in her day - and they were filled with formula. I never had enough of the mamamilk for her to have a homogenized diet. Now she drinks whole milk from a pink cup with a flip-up straw, and loves to sit side-by-side with her sister and her 2% and her purple flip-up. She also eats quinoa with goat cheese, and hard salami, and pretty much anything that isn’t a green bell pepper. But L always comes back to the mamamilk.
There was a time a little after her birthday when I thought I’d have to wean her – her love of mamamilk was entirely disrupting her sleep. But after some very complicated diplomatic negotiations we’ve agreed to a détente, the primary conditions of which are these:
-she is free to continue to pursue her love of mamamilk, indefinitely,
-as long as her pursuit occurs during waking hours or periods of post-surgery discomfort or illness;
-and this agreement may be broached for renegotiation by either the milk provider or the milk consumer, but especially by the provider, at any point.
Now, call me names if you must but I’m not nor have never been a milkbaiter, so a side treaty was brokered with a Swiss-like third party in which it has been accorded that if L cries out in the middle of the night and needs parental attention, her father goes to her, and not I.
And boy does she have his number. When at first the tireless Swiss soldier would appear in her room at night, clearly without milk, there were some screamy moments. But steadily L realized that she did not in fact need midnight, 2 and 4 am meals, and transferred her desire to his company. He used to take her out of the crib and hold her. They progressed, and when she would cry he would hug her within the crib without taking her out from it. Then they reached a point where he could come in and sit on the floor holding her hand. Then he didn’t even hold her hand anymore. She’s been sleeping so much better. She does still call out, though, but if he comes and she sees his face, it’s enough. He has begun going to her, saying hello, and then sitting on the floor for a few moments, just so she could be reassured by his presence. But sitting evolved into lying, and M has begun taking middle of the night catnaps on the floor by her crib. She sleeps well, knowing her knight is nearby. Him, however, I’m not so sure. Yet, perpetuated by the tired, he continues to choose lying over sitting – and predictably, he continues to fall asleep on L’s floor.
And now, for our story…
There is a beautiful tall tree just past the northwest corner of our back deck whose canopy provides late afternoon shade to the deck and whose branches provide aerial runways for the squirrels that love to frolic on our roof. It also provides a home to the nest of a happy family of orioles that returns every year. The tree past it, a big round maple, houses some cardinals. The two families like to call out to each other each morning to renew their friendship. It’s like eavesdropping on the gossip of two housewives chatting across an alley as they hang their laundry to dry, except the alley is the open air just beyond L’s bedroom windows. And their conversations begin before the sun comes up.
So (as reported to me by her father, for legally I am recused from participating in this ritual) L has been waking with the birds around 5:15am. Each morning, she calls for him. He looks at the clock, grumbles, declares that this is Not an Acceptable Time for Waking, and goes to lie down on her floor. She humors him a bit. She might lie down, too. She might practice her monologues. Sometimes she even falls back asleep, as you can be sure her father has done below. Then, somewhere around almost exactly 6 every day, she calls his bluff. She gathers her arsenal, stands, fires a warning shot by calling his name: DADDY! Then she pelts him in the head three times with the pacifiers she no longer needs, for Lo, She is AWAKE. And thus Daddy and daughter begin another smiling day.