I figured we had one more Christmas before our son really understood about Santa Claus and presents and family visits and all the other excitement that comes this time of year. What surprised me is that, despite the fact that my husband and I were probably calmer than in past years in the lead-up to Christmas, our son still seemed to catch the vibe that something was afoot.
Of course we were doing extra cooking and cleaning in preparation for Christmas Eve, when the first wave of family would arrive, but this was no different than when we had hosted other events at our house. Except that he somehow seemed
to know. The night before Christmas Eve he was wired: babbling, pulling up, and flopping on top of us, squealing. I hadn’t expected that at a mere ten months.
Christmas Eve we had twelve people at our house and he was passed around, played with, crawled around trying to imitate his five-year-old cousin, and tackled his uncle’s dog. Christmas Day, after more of the same at his grandparents’ house, he and I took a nap while my husband picked up my mother at the airport. I was interested to see how he would react to having a houseguest for several days; the last time was when he was a newborn. I knew that he warmed to people he saw regularly, maybe once a week, over a period of weeks and was friendly to them - crawling over and begging to be picked up - but he was usually quieter and more wary around people he saw less often.
It took all of about a day for him to accept my mother as a new and exciting addition. It began with him pausing in the midst of play and peering at her discreetly to make sure she was watching him. Usually she was. Thrilled with his new captive audience, he began a developmental growth spurt the likes of which I hadn’t seen before. He worked in four new hand gestures, imitating them almost immediately upon seeing them, began shaking his head “no,” and walking more
proficiently while my mother’s delighted exclamations egged him on.
The down side of all of this is that, like any performer, he needed some down time to recover. Unfortunately, he took his starring role too seriously. Napping became all but non-existent for the week; nursing and bedtime also took a hit. Being “on” all of the time finally took its toll and when it was time for my mother to leave, he was in full melt-down mode: crying, reaching out alternately for me, her, my husband, satisfied with no one and nothing.
This week we are attempting to get back into a routine, which is not so easy after a week of being cajoled into napping by being rocked by dad or grandma and being generally the center of lavish attention. But if the holidays hadn’t thrown us off kilter, it would have been something completely unavoidable, like teething or a cold. As I start things like sleep training yet again, I have to remind myself that parenting is all about hitting the reset button over and over and over again.
J LeBlanc is a former high school teacher who resides in Lebanon, N.H. She is currently taking a break from teaching to stay home with her 8-month-old son.
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