A few weeks ago I taught my one year old daughter the sign for “milk” in an effort to get her to stop tugging on my shirt and whining when she wanted to nurse. The sign, which basically involves moving your fist up and down to mime milking a cow, somehow seemed more refined.
Then she began to sign, or fist pump as it were, nearly constantly, along with frantic “na…na!”s. Sort of cute, huh? But it became a little too intense, sometimes embarrassing depending on where we were, and then when she was really intent on getting her milk on, she would use both hands. Double-fisting, if you will. (And I hope you will.)
Have you ever noticed how quickly babies cycle through phases? One week they learn a new trick, like waving or clapping, and then they stop doing it altogether the next week. Sometimes they pick up their trick again later, but it may have evolved somehow. I have noticed that during weeks when Sophie is working fixedly on a new skill, her other ones fall by the wayside. 
Last week it was all about “MAMA!” 24/7. Truthfully, it got a little bit annoying, as she seemed incapable of saying it at a normal decibel, or fewer than 15 times in a row. But this week? Hardly at all. I have found that it is less of a relief and more of a disappointment. Obviously this isn’t the end of her wails for “mama”, but still. It is just another reminder of the ebb and flow of babyhood. 
I noticed a few days ago that Sophie hadn’t “fist-pumped” once for nearly five days. In fact, on the days when I picked her up from a long day at childcare, she was delighted to see me but no longer greeted me with our special sign and “na” requests. Perplexing. I doubted she was trying to self-wean, as we still nursed at bedtime and (sadly) in the wee hours as well, but the obsession with the fist pump seemed to have died down. And again, I felt strangely sad.
Last night Sophie slept from 7:00 until 4:00 a.m., a fairly impressive stretch for her, I’m sorry to say. After nursing for ten minutes, I tried to covertly gauge her wakefulness, hoping I could sneak her back to her crib. She was wide-eyed, and I thought I might experiment with cuddling her back to sleep rather than prolonging her snack. I maneuvered her on top of me, and she instantly laid her heavy head against my chest. I reveled in the sensation of the weight of her body on mine, trying to memorize the sensation of her sweet baby self nestled against me. 
Every few seconds, she would reach over to Daddy, who was gently stroking her hair. A few times she sat up, alert, surveyed her surroundings, then abruptly dropped her head back down. Then, inexplicably, she began to laugh. So did we, of course, despite the preposterous hour. I gave up at that point, nursed her back to sleep, and carefully deposited her back in her room.
The fist pump, though performed enthusiastically for a good ten days, may be another casualty of the rapidly moving river of toddlerhood. Like so many other aspects of the first few years, it seemed to end just as quickly as it began. Though it vexed me at times, I am certain to miss it.
It may be a cliche, but it does go so fast.
*Almost immediately after I wrote this, Sophie gave me the fist pump and asked to “na.” Of course, it was at a completely inopportune moment. Go figure.
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