It is my honor to address you today, and to inform you of the current state of Olive James, now nearly four months old. A most agreeable and unifying baby, one who receives widespread bipartisan support, Olive continues to meet her milestones on target and demonstrate the type of activities and achievements that make her parents proud. Polls routinely suggest that Olive has both a pacifying as well as a motivating effect on a local and global scale- a major feat in these uncertain political times, if I may point out the obvious.
I hope to keep my remarks brief.
I want her to love everything that I love, for her preferences to be my preferences, for her to find delight in everything I find delightful*, so every day I continue my rigorous program of enriching and systematic brainwashing, as I have from day one. I'm teaching her to love reading and sea chanties, ducks, the Pod Save America boys, and corgis. Also grocery stores, cello music, baths, cold weather, New England, touching the soft edges of blankets, bookstores and strolling around a thriving, pedestrian-friendly downtown area.
And yes, while the mountains are calling (and boy are we reminded that the mountains are calling- law requires that every place of commerce here in Asheville have at least one sign and three decorative throw pillows reminding us that the mountains have been calling nonstop and we really ought to be going) we're going to have to put them on hold for a bit. It's dreary, the site of bare tree limbs still leaves me feeling nauseated (which is her fault) and she's only awake for one and a half hours at a time.
But during those 90 minutes, brief though they be, city-bound as they render us, we pack in the fun. Do we ever! Olive wants- needs- insists! to be moving at all times. She's happiest in the buff but she'll settle for a cloth diaper and even a cute button-up bodysuit, she's incredibly easygoing, but naked would be her top choice. She rolls every which way and can spin herself around like the second hand on a clock. She has a meteorogy-themed activity mat with little clouds and sunshines hanging overhead. She never batted or swung at the toys, she skipped straight ahead to physical fitness. Dave and I will find her gripping the plastic rain-drop bar and doing what amounts to horizontal chin ups. She does reps.
This baby never cries. With the exception of a few adventures in sleep training** she has never cried in her life***, but she does emit a good squeal of what I can only assume to be joy, most often when she's on the changing table or interacting with her best friend, a stuffed whale named Martha, a good Massachusetts gal from the Vineyard.
Despite the dire warning about dependancy that we received from the local, national and online community (we received so many concerned calls we had to set up a hotline), Olive is losing interest in her lobster and reindeer pacifiers. Although we are grateful that she is not headed down the road to addiction, in the absence of wub it's become more of a challenge to settle her down during her many nighttime wake ups.
Never is Olive more contented in life than when she is riding high in her mother's arms, touching the refrigerator. Early on, she showed an aptitude for reaching out and touching things (a game we call "Touch-Touch") and nothing calls to those tiny digits more than the colorful cards, pictures and magnets on the icebox door. Lately, Touch-Touch has taken a sinister turn. Olive has learned to scratch. Whenever we lay her down in her bassinet without first swaddling her up, she turns to the side and scratches away at the side of the basket. One of these days she may tunnel her way out of there.
Some of Olive's closest friends are also babies. She attends a yoga class with some of them (Sawyer, Juniper, Mills) on Fridays. Friday yoga has become progressively less relaxing for me, as Olive is no longer content to lie placidly on her cushion at the end of my mat. She's started to barrel roll. Last week, Roxy instructed us all to come to our hands and knees. At that precise second, my daughter rolled dutifully off her cushion, onto her stomach, and raised little self up onto her elbows. Then I swear to god she gave Roxy an expectant look, and the room erupted in laughter. Olive beamed- she loves when the praise is heaped on. Just like her mom. I've always responded well to praise.
She's usually game for a field trip, although she does find my hour-long forays into Trader Joes to be exhausting. I worked there when I was pregnant, so I'm particularly keen to show her off to my old co-workers while drinking the little paper cups of coffee and hanging out at the Tasting Station.
But bookstores hit.
So far toy stores are a bit overwhelming.
And cafes, for now, are a bore.
I know she's growing up because we've entered the stage where it's no longer appropriate to describe her age in weeks. She's a month-er now.
I love my days with Olive. Whenever she wakes me up at night so she can grab a bite to eat, I have the hardest time getting back to sleep because I'm so excited for the next day to be here. I'm not sure what it says about me that I'm so content to live my life in 2-hour time slots, watching her touch the refrigerator. But at least it's reciprocal. My daughter will scream with joy when her dad gives her a bath. She's happy to cuddle up with anyone who holds her, the dog is starting to become a topic of interest, and she finds her toys deeply gratifying.
But you know what? She loves me best right now.
If I turn my gaze to her she glows like a blood moon. When I walk into her room after her nap, she beams up at me until I reach for her, and then she just about explodes with joy. She'll shriek and wiggle and sometimes- my favorite- take my face in her hands and gently press her open mouth against my cheek.
Pundits agree- Olive is a satisfying bundle. A big win for both sides of the aisle. She is, to paraphrase Barak Obama in his final address to the nation: clear eyed, big hearted, a fine example of unarmed truth and unconditional love.
* For now. Calm down, guys, she's four months old.
** Oh CHILL OUT
***I'm not bragging. Her easy-going nature has nothing to do with me, or Dave, or choice we've made so far in parenting. It's luck of the draw. My pregnancy was intensely difficult and now she's an utterly easy baby.
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