I’ve been absent. I’ve started a post every day since last Saturday, but nothing goes anywhere. I want to keep writing about food, to actually write something substantive rather than tales of dinner-poop woe, for instance. Knowing there are some of you about to start the process, I want to impart those bits of wisdom I wish I myself had had, and such. Incidentally, a dear “in real life” friend just did the whole 4-month check up with her daughter yesterday morning, and the afternoon saw her excitedly shaking boxes of pulverized baby cereal at me. We are a strange bunch, new mothers.
But for now, let’s talk about what else Henry is doing with his teeth these days.
Henry is never without an upside down board book these days, pointing and intoning his complex self-made grammar in which every word is a differently emphasized “Dada.” (He slams the book shut: “Dahhhhh-Duh,” with finality). Last week he saw the familiar picture of kissing in a well-loved and now falling apart book, decided he liked what the ambiguously sexed and oddly twin-looking toddlers on that page were up to, pulled up on the front of my shirt and came in for a hug and quick sliming (his nose has been oozing for…the entire winter?). He is now obsessed with hugs, which made me weep with joy…at first…because he has never been a cuddly baby, and though I am not a soft one myself (tightly-wound I have been called, by virtually every romantic partner) I am not above begging for affection from my oblivious infant. Even as a newborn, even while sleeping in our bed, he would remain hooked up via the breast but push off my body with both arms and legs, to maintain maximum distance between us. He settles into me if he falls asleep while nursing, but the unconscious cuddle is not the same. But now! Oh! He pauses in his reading to throw his arms around our necks often.
But here’s the thing. Once hugging, he likes to bite. And he is not satisfied until he is deep into trapezius. And I’m a sucker–every time. He initiates a hug, I clasp him back, the Fates stop to smile upon our embrace–and then I realize what’s really going on. In my literal and figurative blind spot: tiny teeth.
As a parent, you can’t take anything personally. One of the ways we can gauge if Henry is definitely ready for bed is if he forcefully snubs his father’s attempt at a goodnight kiss (of course Baby Daddy is only home for bedtime a few days a week, so it’s not the best divining rod).
We have a firm no-biting policy (doesn’t everyone?) in this household, which gets you sat down on your butt (not ungently but with swift purpose), the words “No Biting” are said and the parent walks away a few steps. This should be a familiar practice to Hank and to myself (need I remind you of the unauthorized breast augmentation this kid has been known for?). But I’m more conflicted in this case than I am with the nursing biting. Putting him down when he bites while nursing only deprives him of nourishment. Big deal, right? But putting him down mid-hug deprives me of my due caressing. And, AND?! What if he confuses “No Biting” with “No Hugging”?