Sibby Baby

by cbcabeen on March 29, 2014

It’s funny to think, but what I knew about Sibyl a year ago was that she had lots of dark hair and a vigorous sucking reflex. We didn’t even know her name. Now it seems like she was born for people, language, and music–maybe three faces of one Mystery?–maybe the fruitful void she’ll spin her life around? Okay, but it’s audacious to ask a question like that in public, stick to what you know:

I know that she dances to anything, bouncing up and down on her knees or head-banging like a rocker–even if it’s just to my singing.  And I know that music can solve many of her problems.

I know she turns to sunshine when she sees people coming. Everyone at school says she’s such a happy baby. “I guess,” I tell them, “But I think she’s more happy to see you.”

I know she said thank you–“fanks oo”–when I picked her up from the changing table last Saturday, because she talks enough that I believe what I hear now. For months, I wasn’t quite so sure. She tends to use a word exactly once, so that I half-wonder if I’m crazy to have heard it–when I checked her diaper in the middle of the night and she said “diaper,” when I was picking up change from Rebecca’s cash register and she said “coins,” when I pulled down my bra and she said “oh boy,” just the way Tom does when he’s looking at something good to eat. When she sang “h, i, j, k, p, p, p” while she was playing with her sister’s refrigerator letters. I know she says “yeah” a lot, “yes” occasionally, and “no” even more rarely. The first time I ever heard “no” for sure was two months ago, when I asked her if she’d enjoyed her breakfast. “No!” And she threw up half an hour later.

I know more about Rebecca in contrast to Sibyl, too, because now I know that some babies do prefer toys to the recycling, and that not every 11-month old wants to feed her mother penne with a sharp-tined fork. From the time she was around 4 months old–about the time Sibyl started glowing at people and having long conversations with them–Rebecca insisted that I help her stand up like I did, peed when I did, and so on. She focused on following our models and learning proper procedures, which is why Rebecca communicated best via objects for a long time, and also why she had better knife skills than any other two year old I’ve met. Sibyl interacts more directly and doesn’t imitate schemas the same way. It makes her seem younger than Rebecca did at this age.  Or maybe it’s just that she’s my baby.


Place at the Table

November 23, 2013

Normally my ancestors’ stories sit just below the surface of everyday life, and if you’re watching, the whitecaps and rhetorical flourishes will tell you where. When I was pregnant, Rebecca objected to the idea that the baby would use her old high chair. She used to stand on its flat wooden seat to reach the […]

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The Space Between Worlds

September 21, 2013

Several of you asked me how I was doing after Sibyl was born, and here, almost six months later, is an answer.  It’s a bunch of things I wrote in the first two months postpartum, all stitched together and edited.  It probably has a harsher slant than it would’ve if we’d talked in person, since […]

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Fingers, What Are You Doing?

September 7, 2013

This is a game for when your creative energy’s running dry. Rebecca invented it at the beginning of the summer when it became obvious that I didn’t want to hear “Tell me a story” any more, especially first thing in the morning. Instead, she asks, “Pinky, what are you doing?” Then she asks each of […]

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Book Review (Lengthy): Healing Stories For Challenging Behaviour

June 23, 2013

In Healing Stories For Challenging Behaviour (Stroud, UK: Hawthorne Press, 2008), Susan Perrow writes about the success she’s had using stories to inspire a shift in children’s behavior, in the contexts of parenting and Waldorf education.   Healing Stories gives advice for creating your own stories, as well as fifty plus stories that Perrow’s used.  The […]

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New Here

June 15, 2013

Rebecca spent much of the week before Sibyl was born having diarrhea and occasionally throwing up. I spent much of the week cleaning up after Rebecca, having a nasty cold, and thanking my lucky stars that I didn’t have a newborn yet. Then a day and a half before my due date, my cold turned […]

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Making Up Stories

July 28, 2012

Rebecca and I make up stories in secret. I hear we’re not the only parents and children who do that, but how would I know? Joining a practice without much personal precedent is an eerie feeling. When you first start, you’re waiting for someone to catch you and tell you you’re doing it wrong, and […]

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When Dinosaurs Roamed the Earth

May 26, 2012

The museum’s animatronic Tyrannosaurus has spider webs between its teeth. I just noticed them yesterday. They’re hard to see unless you’re at the right angle. Beckybean met Tyrannosaurus Rex last Friday. Her Gaga reports that Rebecca was so scared they had to detour around the dinosaur, but that afterward she wanted to go back and […]

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May 12, 2012

There’s this thing that happens at our house: Ted gets home and wants to play with Rebecca while I finish making dinner. Rebecca howls for mommy. I’m not going to ignore Rebecca for very long, regardless of who the parent on call is. I’m often not successful directing her back to her dad, either, so […]

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Snake on a Plane / Notes on Mental Processes

April 14, 2012

The plane was coming down, on our last flight of the day. Your dad buckled you in. You wanted your seatbelt off, and you started to shout and fight against it. So I told your dad, pass me the rainbow snake! And I snapped it like a collar on my own neck, “Oh no! Get […]

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