Sunday, August 19, 2007

Teenybop Heads to School ...

I remember when Teenybop was born ... it was snowing the day Ex-Husband and I took her home from the hospital. I was in total shock that she was there, that she was real - that she was mine.

Born at 6:49 in the morning, twenty inches and just eight pounds, she was so small. I remember getting her dressed for the first time, I'd bought tons of little newborn outfits ... And none of them fit. So I begged Ex-Husband to run to the store and buy 'the baby' some little preemie outfits, just a pack of little cheap sleepers so that she'd have something to wear that she wouldn't be utterly lost in. So tiny ...

I remember when she got that first shot. But more than what I'll remember, I'll never be able to forget the face she made. She was fine, all cozy in my arms, and didn't know enough yet to feel the tension in me and react to it. I knew what was coming ... she didn't. And when I held her a little tighter, trying valiantly to not to let my tears fall on her as I looked down on her angel's face, she looked back up at me with the most enormous blue crystalline eyes I'd ever seen.

I felt like a criminal, and they hadn't even started yet. And then they got ready, they got the needle prepped, and I edged her tiny blanket away from the tiny thigh. Though I hated what I knew was coming, I am old enough to know that it's for the best. She, however, was not. And she let us know it about three seconds after that needle jabbed into the fresh pink baby skin of her leg. But in that three second delay, her eyes got a little bigger, locked upon mine, and I cried a little harder as I saw the shock dawn on her face ... "That hurts." And then she screamed. She settled down pretty quickly once it was over - but it took me another fifteen minutes to stop crying.

I remember when she first rolled over, how amazed she was that suddenly the world was flipped over! And how angry she was that she couldn't turn back. She had always hated laying on her back, so I never really bothered to put her there, other than when she was in her swing or her little bouncy seat ... and that day was no different. Besides the shock of suddenly finding your body completely flipped over, it must be a terrible thing to find that no matter how hard you try, you can't flip it back.

So she cried, and I turned her back over ... She finally figured how to turn herself back over, but she could only go one way ... like a little steam engine that couldn't change direction. She'd go from front to back on the left side, and from back to front on the right side. Never the other way, LOL ... so I would wear her out by putting her at the head of my bed when she was really active, and while I walked to the foot of the bed, she'd roll there. Then I'd catch her, turn her the other way, and meet her again at the other side. It was another three or four months before she was able to surprise me and head off in previously unknown directions, LOL ... thankfully not while playing the roll game in my bed.

I remember when Teenybop first learned to push herself until she was sitting up. I remember that she kind of looked at me as if to say, "Hm. Well, that's interesting. How come you never told me I could do that?" And she gave that same look every time she sat up ... but come to think of it, maybe she wasn't giving the surprised look because she'd sat up. Maybe it had something to do with the silly grin I got every time she did it. Or the way I'd squeak and squeal in my pride for her accomplishments, never mind the fact this is something nearly every baby does at some point in it's life.

I remember when we were leaving her father for the third and final time, moving out of the apartment we'd lived in with him, and into one that was ours. Just us, the two of us girls, alone for the time. I spent nights awake in the dark in that apartment more often than I spent them asleep. He'd threatened me, he'd threatened to run with her, and besides all that, it was the first time I'd ever lived alone in my life. Every noise in the night woke me, every creak and murmur of the decades-old building was, to me, Ex-Husband on a stoned rampage and coming in to try and take her.

Not to mention the guilt I felt for leaving him and for taking her from him, even though I knew it was for the best and that I couldn't just raise her up in a home where I never knew from day to day if he'd forget to hide his drugs from me or not. I've since lived to see him prove that it really was for the best.

I remember when she took her first steps. I remember that I wasn't right there to see, even though it's one of the reasons I chose to be a stay-at-home mom. And the really sucky part is that I was right there. I was in the kitchen finishing the set-up for her first birthday party, and while I was in there she was 'cruising' along the couch. Well, she decided that that was the perfect moment to do something big, something that would make everyone in the room shout out about how brave she was and what a big girl she was. She chose that moment to take her first steps, from my sister-in-law to my cousin Dana.

It took almost two weeks that were totally agonizing for me before she tried again, and that was the last I ever saw of my baby. After that, she was off like a little slow-growing rocket, officially a toddler.

And now? Even my toddler is soon out the door ... forever gone, and never to be seen again. In her place will reside a preschooler, a little girl who is growing up so very fast and ready to finally take those first real steps to independence.

We go Thursday to meet her teacher.