when i pick james up from daycare, his daily report is already full of demerits.  it reads played with bottle :( at his 11 am feed.  playing with nipple :( at 3 pm.  he is too delighted with his own newfound strength to sit still for a full meal.

i'm worried that he'll lose weight, i express to his daycare teachers while simultaneously struggling to pick him up.  he is heavy and dense.  like a fat roasted chicken stuffed with gnocchi. the ladies exchange glances briefly before laughing, and i realize i sound ridiculous as james peers up at me through a mountain of cheeks and chins.  he is as round as ever, despite his daily frolicking and bottle foolishness.

the kids r kids facilities are all equipped with webcams, but some are better than others.  my colleague's facility in north frisco has three different camera angles and records all footage for playback like a damn tivo.  the camera in james' room, on the other hand, looks like it's just two potatoes fused together with yarn.  it is mad grainy and choppy, but i can still discern my dude with no difficulty- he's the white blob with the mass of dark hair who is boppin' around in a jumperoo like he's on speed.

he is the oldest baby in his daycare class now, so he's a little different from the sleepy little dumplings around him.  he's not like other babies, the lead teacher tells me.  i think that she is about to throw a compliment my way, because what parent doesn't want to think their child has exceptional qualities that would showcase well in a presidential biography?  instead she tells me, the other babies like being held, they relax and sleep in my arms.  but james gets very tense when i hold him, he's just twisting and turning to look at everything.

i type baby not cuddly into google and it autofills ....autistic.

he loves attention, the second teacher tells me on another day.  he doesn't even need to be touched, he just wants you to look at him.  he even tries to get the other babies' attention.  

my dude is not even 6 months old yet and he already seems like an aspiring instagram thot.  people talk about "personalities" at this age and i roll my eyes like nah, all babies are the same drooly dorks until they start reading chapter books, but i might be wrong in this regard.  james certainly has proclivities and interests that could pass for a personality.  he is mad giggly, obnoxiously loud, and fond of grabbing faces with his steely little fingers.

despite his rambunctiousness, he is still sleeping well.  the four month sleep regression never hit, and he has sailed through the past two months with no middle-of-the-night wakeups- though recently he has had a few early mornings that ian bravely handled.  i've watched him learn how to connect his sleep cycles on his own by self-soothing, which is fascinating.  almost like clockwork, around 11 pm every night he jolts into a bloodcurdling scream unlike anything i've ever heard from him.  but before i can extricate myself from a pile of blankets and a privileged dog to reach the nursery, james falls silent.  a review of the nest cam shows that lil man found his fingers, brought them to his mouth, and instantly fell back asleep.  this is what pamela druckerman discusses in bringing up bebe, quintessential pregnancy reading- le pause.  i get more confident in james' own abilities day by day. 

parenting gets easier too.  we have a semblance of a morning routine these days.  ian feeds james while i doggedly pump a few sad ounces out of my capitulating breasts.  i stuff my dude into a too-small outfit like a fat little sausage while ian carefully sculpts his hair for an hour.  we leave james to his own floor play while ian makes a few bottles of formula for daycare and i try to do something about my rapidly aging face.  my two boys trundle off for daycare and spreadsheets and i leave for work shortly thereafter with my dresses only halfway zipped.

and then i sit in a meeting with two overeager sales guys, both of them on the verge of becoming new fathers (not with each other).  they congratulate me on my return from maternity leave, which is a weird time to remember because i feel like i was only gone in a mire of sadness and breastmilk for about a minute.  one of them asks me what it has been like to have a baby, and i know it is just friendly filler conversation before they wheedle me into spending too much money on hr services, but i cannot resist any opportunity to intimate that i am not a suburban mombie with platitudes about living/laughing/loving.  and i want these strangers to know that i am still jaded, still lazy, still obsessed with my work and my growth as an individual.  that my heart still beats fast and hard for ian with an all-consuming love and respect that is unmatched by anyone or anything else.  and my life isn't necessarily better or harder or vastly different- but somewhat richer and more nuanced in unexpected ways.

but instead i say something wry and dumb like well i still hate babies but i like my own that was just a nod to a season 5 sex and the city episode but of course these dudes don't get it and we all move on but later i will realize that of course it would have all panned out like this, of course i should've known i was always miranda hobbes.  in life, in love, in my cynical skepticism of mommyhood.  definitely a miranda.

but with a carrie rising.  that's why i keep writing in this stupid blog and wearing unsuitable heels.