Saturday, February 21, 2009

Tentative Symbiosis

The Scout-Violet relationship is growing day by day but still uncertain at best. Violet is a dog enthusiast already, but her enthusiasm does little to quell Scout's baby loathing. Now that Violet is mobile (no, not crawling; but scooting, reversing, butt-pivoting, and toddling with help from a friendly finger), Scout has more to fear. When and if Violet does begin actual forward crawling, I have no doubt it will be the dog that motivates that movement. Her smelly fur is irresistible to the baby and Violet would like nothing more than to suck on her long, hairy tail, oblivious to the fact that it probably grazes every dump Scout takes.

The baby-dog attraction I definitely get. Scout is the best toy in the house; unpredictable and unattainable. What I don't get is why Scout doesn't get the hell out of Violet's way. The dog is way faster on the ground and able to jump up on any piece of furniture in the house. Yet, there she sits, a mere 10 inches from the baby, and then growls and bears her teeth when Violet yanks her furry rear end again and again. She yips but hasn't bitten; so far Shawn and I are always close at hand to scold her. I have even gone as far as to pick Scout up off of the floor where Violet is playing and put her on the sofa. She immediately jumps back down and goes back to laying within a foot of the baby. Go figure.

I would like to think Scout's constant proximity to Violet is related to some primal protective instincts, like that dog that suckled the tiger cubs. But knowing Scout, I think it has far more to do with Violet's burgeoning consumption of human food. Human food, any variety, is ambrosia to Scout. She is consumed by the desire to get her mustachioed under bite around even the smallest morsel of human food. Now that Violet is eating, and doing so messily, I might add, Scout is much more interested in her. Scout sits under her high chair during meals and is right there when we pick her up after eating, cleaning every grain of rice that falls from the baby to the floor within seconds. In many ways, this is nice and eases the burden of cleanup for us parents. But in other ways it is annoying, as Scout rears up and whimpers begging for the leftover baby vittles if we don't immediately wipe out the seat of the high chair.

Forget giving Violet a pretzel or some cheerios to nibble while she plays on the floor. Scout is there like a vulture, gently but persistently weaseling the food out of Vi's hand. And it doesn't help that Violet's eating patterns involve a lot of sucking followed by waving the food around for a while. As soon as she goes to wave her gooey pretzel in Scout's general direction, the dog politely removes it from her hand and devours it with minimal chewing.

I realize Cesar Milan would probably be having a heart attack if he read this. This certainly is not how a pack leader would behave, letting a lower order canine steal food from her pup. And I also realize that it is just a matter of time until Scout crosses the line with Violet and that is something I really don't want to deal with. So if anyone has any suggestions on how to deal with dog-baby relations in the Pierce household, I'm all ears...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Life on the Outside, More Violet than Felicia

Violet passed the 9 month marker this week and celebrated by going shopping at Carter's. Nothing but the finest sweatshop cotton for my little one!

Nine months old means that Vi has passed a milestone of her life and now has spent longer out of utero than in utero. What a host of changes her little life has already seen! For example, on the inside, she did not have to breathe. All that pesky inhaling and exhaling she does now was done for her by me. However, in my belly, she didn't get to eat Snyder's Homestyle Pretzels, her new fave.

But, the more things change, the more they stay the same. In utero, Violet frequently had the hiccups. That didn't change--several times a week she still sounds like an IU student after playing Sink the Bismark at Nick's. While she was in my womb under the pseudonym Felicia, she was covered in vernix, a white cheesy substance that protected her baby skin from the water she was afloat in. This morning she was covered in actual cheese; whipped cream cheese, to be specific, that was on the English muffin she and I shared. During gestation, especially during the last 2 months or so, Felicia did a great job of making me uncomfortable by resting her girth on my bladder. Violet, too, likes to make her mother uncomfortable, but prefers going the route of pinching any of my exposed skin whenever we are nursing testing my conviction never to spank my child.

The biggest thing that I've noticed as Violet turned 9 months this week, is what an unignorable symbol she is of the passage of time. Like marking big red Xs on a calendar, Violet is a human countdown--or, more aptly, a count-up. She changes quickly yet subtly making it hard to tell if she is actually acquiring a new skill or just stumbling along doing baby stuff. Then--POOF--baby stuff was a new skill and she is opening every cupboard door in the house looking through the treasures that lie within. I have always been both fascinated and saddened by the way we perceive time and having Vi around intensifies both of those feelings.