Thursday Morning Wood

Posted by jdg | Friday, July 21, 2006 |

One night last week when I came home from work, I could see Juniper in the window wearing only a diaper and running towards the door, shrieking with excitement. I ran up as quickly as my heels would allow, and my heart did a couple of backhandsprings inside my ribcage. I stepped inside, crouched on my knees, spread my arms wide open and closed my eyes, waiting to feel her tiny body collapse into mine. And then I heard it: the sound of strange child's voice. I opened my eyes to see Juniper gleefully chase a 3 year-old black girl right past me into the dining room. I then noticed our neighbor sitting on the couch, and as I stood up, realized that the kid must be her granddaughter. Juniper was so thrilled to have another little girl in our house that she didn't even notice that I'd come home. For the next fifteen minutes, while I waited awkwardly for our neighbor to leave, I followed Juniper around the house trying to get her to sit still long enough so that I could smell her. I'd spent all day missing her smell. When I finally sunk my nose into the crease between her shoulder and neck, she was filthy and stinky.

Predictably, being back at work hasn't just been all aeron chairs and fast internet connections and cute clothes, there's the expected downside: my baby doesn't need me very much anymore. She doesn't cry when I leave the house, she doesn't notice when I come home, and she is thriving under her father's care.

She doesn't even need me to take a bath with her.

Until recently, the very suggestion that Juniper would take a bath alone without Dutch or I in the tub, was enough to cause her to run from the bathroom screaming, refusing to let us undress her. We were sort of embarassed about the shared tub time, rarely admitting to people that we still bathed with her, but at the end of every day when we were tired and eager to get through the nightly routine, one of us would reluctantly strip down and join her in the tub. When Dutch was working, he enjoyed this time with her on weekday nights, and after grilling me about what we did that day he would sit with Juniper in the tub and ask her a long litany of questions, to which she always responded "yeah." I'd hear them from the other room: "Did you go to the playground today? Yeah. Did you see baby Olivia today? Yeah. Did you a ride a dog down Fulton street today? Yeah."

Last night, for the first time Juniper didn't need one of us to get in the tub with her. She just plopped right in and started playing with her animals. At first, I was grateful that I didn't need to go through the completely unnecessary wettening and toweling off, but now I'm kind of bummed. I understand why Dutch wanted to take baths with her when he got home from work. I need that time with her.

So I sat on the closed toilet while she splashed in the tub, talking to herself and her animals, only occassionally noticing that I was in the room. While I was taking these pictures, she was telling me all about the elephant's butt. Where did she learn the word butt? There may still be work to be done with this kid after all.