Friday, December 30, 2005

Learning to Get: Nutmeg's First Noticeable Christmas

A few vignettes from Nutmeg's magical first Christmas as a Christmas-recognizing being:

Grammy and Grampy, concerned that their grandchild won't have enough stamina to open 1,200 gifts on Christmas day, give her a present each day she is there. They've devised a system in which she advances their advent calendar a day and then is rewarded with a present. The first one is a brand new sled.

We bundle Nutmeg into a borrowed snowsuit for her first sled ride. It's about 14 degrees outside. We all tramp down to the park -- Grammy, Grampy, Uncle Kenny, Epu, me and of course the Nut. She loves riding in the sled, but after about 10 minutes, we all are too cold and tramp right back home. Later in the week, the temperature has risen so much that Grampy gives Nutmeg a sled ride in the back yard, on mostly grass. He says she's so light it doesn't really matter, and she loves it either way.

My mom, Epu, Nutmeg and I all pile in the maternal SUV for a shopping trip to Gurnee Mills. Grammy happily volunteers to hang out with Nutmeg while Epu and I are freed to shop unencumbered. While we're gone, Grammy buys a chocolate milkshake and shares it with Nutmeg, who of course ends up with chocolate all over her shirt. My mom takes her to the bathroom and swabs frantically, afraid that my uptight mommy self will be mad that she fed her a milkshake. When we get home, my dad is jealous that he missed Nutmeg's first shake. "That's one of life's great pleasures!" he says.

We take Nutmeg to the Rainforest Cafe, the kind of place where I would normally never be caught dead. But I had to admit that Nutmeg loved it. In fact, when I took her to the bathroom, she looked up at me from the changing table and said, as persuasively as she could, "We should go back to the table now." Because from our table, she could hear waiters singing happy birthday every 5 minutes, and could see animatronic gorillas and elephants swaying their heads. What's not to love? God, looking back, I know this road only points one place: The Dreaded Magic Kingdom. And not the kingdom of the magic golden nipple, either.

Nutmeg sees a Green Bay Packer ornament on my uncle's Christmas tree.
Grampy: What's that?
Nut: Brett Favre!

All the preliminary gift-giving has helped Nutmeg better understand the materialism of the holiday.
Me: What do you want Santa to bring you?
Nut: Another present.
Me: What do you want in your present?
Nut: A choo-choo train.
My parents exchange knowing grins.

When we get to Grandma and Grandpa's house, the excitedly reach out for their granddaughter. Nutmeg looks past them to their Shetland Sheepdog, who loathes her. "Hello, Indy!" she cries. "Hi Indy, hi!" Then she pants for him.

On Christmas Eve day, I mix up some gingerbread dough and Nutmeg helps me roll it and cut out the men. She soon finds her real sweet spot, though: Putting on the "buttons," which are little cinnamon candies. She happily repeats my directive that the candies are "not for eating." She puts as many as 8 buttons on some of the men, on their heads, their feet, all over the place. She loves it! Sadly, I don't think we photographed this Norman Rockwell moment.

On Christmas morning at Grandma and Grandpa's house, I help Nutmeg tear the corner off one package. Some tiny decal shows. It's nothing recognizable, at least to me.
"A Dora toy!" Nutmeg cries. Sure enough, the decal I saw was Dora the Explorer's cousin, and it's a box of Dora-themed Duplo blocks. The person who designed that character should be monitored at all times. He or she has way more power over children than is at all healthy.

When we arrive at Grammy and Grampy's Christmas day, they are in a surprisingly unfestive mood. Turns out they had had a grand plan: Nutmeg was supposed to advance the advent calendar one more time and then be ushered to her own mechanized choo-choo train, from Leapfrog no less. But the train wouldn't go. I told them Nutmeg wouldn't care, and indeed, she loved playing with the train the way it was. But my parents had been imagining their Christmas day beginning with this image for months, and they were bummed.

It cheered them up when Nutmeg watched my mom cooking Christmas dinner and announced, "I want to eat turkey." And more when she downed 3 bowls of it, while forcefully turning down stuffing, potatoes and especially squash. My baby, apparently, is an Atkins baby, which might explain her svelte 10th percentile weight.

Her reactions to various gifts cheered them up even more.
When she opened a huge stuffed animal from my cousin: "A big Pooh!"
When she opened the next gift, which was clothes: "A big jumper!"
When we knew she was tired out and ready for her nap: "No! You don't like it!" (more clothes)

She napped, the Packers took a big crap on Lambeau Field, and when the game was over we returned to open our stockings and give Nutmeg her biggest non-choo-choo gift: A robotic dog. I kid you not. The dog responds to commands and petting. My mother had almost made my dad take it back, since it's made for kids 5 and up and she was afraid a toddler just wouldn't understand. But Nutmeg reacted as if it were a real dog, and when we all started shouting commands at it, she joined right in.
"Drop! Drop!" she told it, and it would drop its little bone, and she would shriek and do the little happy dance.
"This makes up for the train," my mom said.

We thought we had perhaps pushed the Nut too hard, made her open too many gifts. But that night, before bed, she told me, "Want open more presents." I told her they were gone. "Want more!" she replied. Ah, a consumer is born.

The next morning we had about 100 toddlers and babies over to our house, and they were all cranky and overstimulated. But I got to see the world's cutest 5-month-old, EJ. Don't believe me? Click here. Then Epu and I took off for a honeymoon overnight in Lake Geneva while Grammy and Grampy watched Nutmeg. We weren't even out of the city limits before we started talking about the Nut, and all the cute things she had said and done on this trip. We went to the resort's hot tub and watched all the kids playing in the pool and thought about the Nut. In the morning we watched "Dora the Explorer" on the room's flat-screen tv. We are so lame!

We came back and Nutmeg responded to the ringing doorbell by saying, "It's Mommy and Daddy!" Then she showed us a photo she had liked in that morning's paper, which she told us, with dead-on accuracy, was "A lion eating a birthday cake." My parents told me she barely cried a moment. Since my boob was about to explode, I asked her if she wanted nursie. "No," she told me. Later, mercifully, she nursed a little. Then we went back to Grandma and Grandpa's, where she told them, in possibly her longest sentence ever, "You put the picture of the lion eating a birthday cake on the refrigerator." Damn!

Photos to come when Epu gets here with the camera.

1 comment:

Kori said...

Awh, shucks. Thanks for the kind words about our bean. We think she's pretty cute, and I'm glad she could share some of her sweet baby juju with you over Christmas. :) We can't get over how adorable the Nut is. And verbal---she's stringing words together like hippies stringing bead necklaces at a love-in. And you know how much hippies love beads.

As for Dora, if she became the face of a Columbian drug cartel, all of our kids would officially become crack babies. That chic is powerful. Our goddaughter just had a Dora the Explorer birthday---Dora cupcakes, Dora hats, Dora streamers, Dora tablecloth, Dora plates and cups, Dora Dora Dora Dora Dora Dora Dora! We're now searching the post-Christmas sales for a Dora gift fit for this 3-year old sweetheart, and we've even seen a Dora Jeep---I swear it's like a Ford Explorer for toddlers. Crazy.