I grew up in one of those Judeo-Christian homes that apparently strike terror in the hearts of the likes of Betty Friedan, Alan Grayson and Kathryn Joyce. My parents never had sex until they got married to each other. Theirs is an enduring...

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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A day in the life of number 14

Since I was little, I dreamed of following a baby's development through the first year for BabyTalk magazine. I was an avid reader of BabyTalk. It came free with our cloth diaper service, and I read anything I could get my hands on.

Don't you think it would be cute to feature a tenth child one year? How about a fourteenth?

The littlest one here is well over a year now. She's twenty-two months. :c( (This is the first time in over a quarter century that the youngest of us was that old.) She has "developed" a personality, communication skills, job skills, quality relationships, awareness of her surroundings, appreciation for the arts, ... Oh, alright. She has- if we want to use clinical terms.

She wakes up between 6:30 and 7:30. Dad takes her out of bed and hands her the cell phone, so she can play all his ring tones.

Then she wanders into our bedroom and tells the three-year old good morning. She caresses her next-up sister's face, gently pats her on the arm, making soft, pretty little unintelligible greeting language. The display of affection lasts several minutes.

Next, the baby of the family succumbs to instinct. She goes in search of food. Her barefeet patter purposefully through the whole house. Any person out of bed will do. She makes all kinds of polite beseeching sounds and gestures. She may take their hand and attempt to pull them toward the kitchen. She may ask them to pick her up, then she leans toward the kitchen. She directs them to the refrigerator.

"Do you want oatmeal?", they ask.

"Oatmeal", she repeats, matter-of-factly.

She stands, eager, belly protruding, gently rocking back and forth, while oatmeal is prepared. She's learned to predict parts of the routine like the highchair and bib. She goes over to her highchair, and reaches up for her bib (if she notices the oatmeal-maker intends to use a highchair and bib).

She consumes the first several bites greedily, with intense concentration on her food. Then she makes the happiest, most enthusiastic little speech of thanks and delight, which continues the rest of the meal. (That is, if the food keeps coming until she's full.)

After breakfast she is content to play for a few minutes. Then she seeks someone to help her again. Once she gets their attention, she points to the front door and begs, "Outside?". When the request is denied because no one is available to play with her, she makes a few piercing screams, "OUTSIDE!!!! OUTSIDE!!!", which dissolve into wails, which result in a late morning nap.

Which is just about right, because she is in the sweetest spirits when she wakes up, asking for lunch.

The rest of the day is not as consistent. She is doted on, plays with her brothers and sisters, looks at picture books and tells us about the pictures, scoots up to the table and asks for a pencil and paper while we work on writing and math skills, plays with dolls, pretends to give concerts with the fireplace tools (doesn't matter which tool- it's always a guitar), spends some time outside, goes to the beach and watches the waves, plays with other small children who come over, watches movies with us (she likes ones with animals), different things on different days.

Then every evening, as the older half of the family comes in from their respective places of work (mostly in clusters- often we fill a few vehicles and they all go to the same jobsite), she greets each person individually, with a bright grin and an exclamation of joy, communicating that she missed them and is glad to have them back.


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