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May 5, 2009

Independent child, phase I of many...

I was so impatient for this day to come: the day when baby D. would be able to play happily by himself, without me having to rack my brain to suggest activities or to be involved in every step of his games.
In the past 15 months, I have always felt guilty when I had to leave baby D. alone to cook dinner, do laundry or take care of any other business, etc... even for a few minutes. He would complain as soon as I disappeared, suddenly requesting to be in my arms right when I needed them for something else. Over time, I have learned to multi-task, do chores with one arm, use tricks to distract baby D. (like playing Peekaboo on my way to the kitchen)... or simply to ignore his complaints for a few minutes when I didn't have the choice. Finally, I had gotten the routine down.

As it turns out, this routine wasn't meant to last. All of a sudden, baby D. has magically developed the ability to occupy himself for several minutes in a row.

We started noticing it a few days ago. We had friends over for dinner, a scenario in which baby D. usually loves to get all the attention. To my surprise, this time, he didn't even ask to stay and interact with us. He re-discovered a tractor he had gotten a month ago (and ignored since) and spent a good part of the evening driving it around the house. It felt like a great relief: we could finally have an adult conversation with our friends, no interruption every 5 minutes. We didn't think of it much, though.

The next day, the pattern started again: baby D. drove his firetruck happily around the house without requiring any help or attention. He asked to be put in his crib to play with his blanket, pacifier, etc... This alone kept him entertained for 10 minutes! I couldn't believe my eyes.

Over the last few days, it has become clear that this new trend is here to stay. As I started preparing dinner tonight (quite late admittedly), I was expecting the usual complaint: grabbing my legs, asking for food before it's ready, etc... But nothing happened! Baby D. just played further with a bottle/rattle I had made for him. By the time dinner was ready, he was sitting at the table, reading a book by himself and patiently waiting.

I should be happy, shouldn't I? My hopes have finally come true, when I wasn't even expecting anything... Yes, I am happy and relieved. We have reached a new stage of baby development, and this one promises to be a lot of fun.
Interestingly enough, I have this strange nostalgic feeling as well. All of a sudden, baby D doesn't need me all the time. I can take my time taking care of other things, and he might not mind. What could I do with all this freedom I just regained? I have forgotten what it could be like not to multi-task...
What will the new routine be? What will my interactions with baby D look like now? ... While the need to juggle everything might decrease, I am wondering which new unknowns will come up and what new tricks I will need to come up with. This is very exciting, but certainly not the relief I had expected to feel. Will this ever be?

End of part I (of many) for baby D. on the way to independence!

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