Finally. After days of being on the grind, you are so close to making it. One more kill and you will be the next generation in Titanfall 2. You have the final person in your crosshairs. You pull the trigger, and the screen goes black and flashes no signal.
You snap out of your zone with a “What!?” and start to take in your surroundings. For the first time, you notice that your two-year-old sister waddled into the room and decided to touch the glowing power button on your Xbox. You start to get angry, but while you try to figure out what to do, she sees a book on the floor. Then she runs over, jumps onto you and says, “Ree,” her voice increasing in pitch as she says the word. She wants you to read it to her. How can you be mad at that?
Obviously, a lot of things change when there is a baby in the house. Having small, chubby humans in the house who do whatever they want whenever they want is something that is very difficult to adapt to. All important possessions must be kept above baby’s reach, and even then, once they become stronger and more mobile, babies are sometimes found climbing onto furniture or large objects to get to high things that they want to play with. Siblings need to make sure that they keep their bedroom doors closed unless they want a small tornado to explore everything that interests the baby.
Once your little brother or sister figures out that the tv, the computer, or your phone has a cool glowing surface that flashes colors and images, they will take any opportunity they can get to touch, play with, and investigate your most valuable electronics. But everyone knows that things like that are going to happen. From my experience with my almost two-year-old sister Francesca, here are some unexpected changes that come with having a baby living in the house.
I get home from school, and as I take off my shoes and walk up the stairs, I hear a really high pitched, uncoordinated voice yell, “LIENEEEEE!” I see a small head with a messy mop of hair appear at the top of the stairs. As I come up the stairs, she starts to run from side to side, and when I make it to the top, she takes off into the living room. So, I drop my stuff off in my room and start to chase after her; this is one of her favorite games. After a while, I tackle her gently into a couch while she laughs a shrill laugh and squirms to evade my grip. Then, I get up and take off, and once she catches up to me and hits me, I fall down and she runs up to my stomach and jumps onto me. Then she gets up and jumps onto me again. Apparently, she enjoys trying to squash me flat.
Once I escape from her crushing weight flopping on top of me, I decide I’m hungry. I go into the kitchen and pop a bag of popcorn. Somehow, every time, right when the bag is done and I am about to take it out and eat it, she comes running as fast as her tiny legs can carry her around the corner. She says, “Me, me, Lienee, me,” and looking right into my eyes while she rubs her chest and stomach, which is sign language for “please”. Darn it, I can’t refuse something that adorable. So I get out a little plastic bowl and pour some into it. Before I can pick it up to hand it to her, she grabs it, stuffs in a piece that is almost too big for her mouth, and shuffles away happily. I retreat into my room to start working on homework, and after about five to ten minutes, my door opens slowly and hits the wall with a light thud. I hear some scraping, and then see her small head and mop of hair poke around the corner, holding her bowl out in front of her. The same thing happens again, with the same result every time. I end up losing a bunch of popcorn. Unfortunately, this happens almost every time I decide to eat a snack.
A little after that, my mom needs to leave to go pick up my ten-year-old sister from elementary school. Everyone knows that babies are attached in some way to their parents, especially to their mothers. Knowing that this is especially the case with Francesca, my mom tries to get downstairs to the car without Francesca seeing or hearing her leave. Sometimes it works, but other times Francesca hears the car, sees her going downstairs, or notices that she is nowhere to be found. Consequently, I am left with a heavily distraught two-year-old who needs comforting. I extract myself from my room and my homework and pick her up. Usually, she is babbling uncontrollably something that sounds like, “MOMMYBYE, MOMMY, MOMMYGONE, BYEMOMMY…” At times like this, she needs a distraction. I tell her, “It’s ok, mom will be back in a few minutes, this happens almost every day.” I sit down on the couch with one of the books that she has already thrown across the floor and start to read it to her as she takes a seat on my lap. It works pretty much every time to calm her down. It’s especially nice on a cold day because I can soak up all of the Joules of heat emanating from her tiny body.
Babies hate not getting their way, and Francesca is no exception. There are two things that she does when she doesn’t get her way. In general, if there is something that she just really wants to do or that she doesn’t want you to do, she will let out an earsplitting scream. If she is in a good mood and trying to find different approaches to get around the obstacles in her way and she is thwarted, you will hear her whispering in a raspy voice, “Die, die, die.” That’s a little creepy, but I don’t think that she knows what it means, it is just a sound that she says sometimes. When she said it for the first time around me, I had just stymied her attempt to enter my bedroom. I ran over and picked her up while saying, “What do you think you’re doing?” She laughed when I put her down, but then she looked at me, and ran away whispering, “Die, die, die, die.”
Francesca does get angry, but it usually comes out as crying. This is how she lets the world know that something is wrong. In the moments before Francesca starts wailing, her face contorts into the saddest face the world has ever seen. If anyone sees this face, they will want to help her more than anything else and take all of her sadness away. If she looks at you, it’s because you are the reason she is making that face, which makes you want to shrivel up and not exist anymore. This is probably the reason why kids grow up to expect to get everything they want. It is because we cannot resist doing so when they are still little and adorable.
It seems that Francesca wants to play with the stuff that everyone else doesn’t want her to touch. My dad draws cartoons for work, and he once made the mistake of leaving his final draft of a drawing for a job out on the couch with a pencil nearby. When he returned, he found Francesca in the middle of adding a few finishing touches to the paper. All he could do was laugh and try to erase all of the scribbles she had drawn. Another time, she found this small bottle full of stuff that we know as “White Out.” For babies though, it is a cool, white liquid that they can put onto a bunch of different surfaces and see what happens. When my mom found her, she had painted a patch of our blue carpet white, and she had smeared it across her own face. Thankfully, it mostly came out the carpet, and her face isn’t albino white anymore.
At the age of two, Francesca already has foods that she greatly prefers over others. She refuses to eat some foods because she thinks they will taste horrible. She will not eat cheese or tomatoes, but she chows on pizza. Her preferences will change as she grows older, but it is pretty funny to see how excited she gets at the mention of some of her favorite foods. The other day, Francesca had just finished dinner and was wanting to get out of her high-chair to go play. Then, she heard my mom say the word cookie, and her eyes lit up. “COOOKIEEEE,” she exclaims with her arms reached out ready to snatch when a cookie comes within her reach. She says it again and again, and when she sees someone with a cookie, she says it louder and more excitedly. At the same time, she looks directly into the soul of the person holding the cookie and shakes her head as if to say, “No, don’t eat that cookie, I want it, and I am an adorable little baby who would enjoy that cookie way more than you would, so please, do the right thing and hand that cookie into my tiny little hand.” If I am the one with the cookie, she almost always gets a least a big bite.
Being able to walk now, Francesca was able to trick or treat for the first time. She dressed up as Max from “Where the Wild Things Are.” She is pretty shy of strangers, so she originally didn’t get very excited to walk up to someone’s door and interact with them. That changed when she saw the bowl of candy that the stranger was holding. Suddenly, she was all about trying to grab a bunch of candy from random people. My mom tried to limit the amount she got because she is so young, but she still came home with a decent amount. Now, all we have to do is un-teach her to go up to strangers offering her candy.
Francesca doesn’t know how a tv works, how to turn it on, or how to put a DVD into the DVD player, but she already has a favorite show. If she hears anyone say the words Little Bear she will literally jump for joy. In only three occasions of watching it, she was hooked. I remember when I was young watching Little Bear, but never with the amount of excitement that she does. She will run as fast as her tiny legs can carry her into the living room and look frantically for the disc. It’s really quite amusing to see. One moment, she will be crying because mom left the house without her, and the next moment, she will be laughing and smiling, eager to watch the show. Once she starts watching, she becomes totally engrossed in the show and has very little awareness of the world around her. I have wrapped her up in a blanket and taken pictures of her in a little bundle, and she did not realize. Since she figured out what the camera can do, usually when she sees it, she stops whatever she is doing to focus on the pictures being taken of her. When she is watching Little Bear, I was standing right in front of her off to the side of the screen and she didn’t glance away for an instant.
Babies aren’t just miniature versions of us that need diaper changes. They too have emotions and personalities. No two babies are the same, and this is why each and every one will surprise at some point in one way or another. Sometimes the surprise is funny, sometimes it sad, and sometimes it just makes you happy. No matter how annoying or angering Francesca is, I cannot imagine life without her anymore, and that is a good thing.