Posted by Duff

Having known The Dervish these three+ years, and hearing from so many parents of more than one that every child is inherently different, I formed some expectations of Atticus.

That’s probably not fair, and who am I to typecast a brand new human being, and all that crap. But after he finished his 9 weeks of infant boot camp and stopped hollering long enough to smile (and thankfully, digest some food and sleep some sleep), he revealed himself to be quite what I’d expected. In a word: content.

Little irritated him. Diaper changes? Awesome. Shirts going over his head? Marvelous. Being passed around from stranger to stranger? Bring it on. Whatever you’ve got.

One afternoon, I picked up The Dervish and Atticus from daycare, and we waited the standard 8 minutes to make a left turn out of the parking lot during rush hour. The Dervish had a few grievances: the sun was in her eyes, for one, and her jacket was making a bump under her carseat buckle. She was also thirsty. I handed her a sippy cup, and as she took a gulp, Atticus, who up until this point had been silent, interjected a single–dare I say irritated— “Mehhhhp.”

It wasn’t until we got home, ten minutes later, that I realized that his hat had come down over his eyes, and he’d ridden home in waking darkness. And silence. This once happened to The Dervish around his age, and she screamed as if being poked by pins until I could pull over to see what was causing such distress.

“What do you mean, he just took it?” said my husband.

“Do you think there’s something wrong with him?” I asked. “I mean, it’s like nothing bothers him.”

Until this week. My husband sits on the floor next to Atticus, eating a bowl of instant apple oatmeal. Atticus eyes the bowl. Reaches for it. When his father moves it from range, Atticus scowls, raises a brow, and bestows his very first Hairy Eyeball. Rakes at his offender’s leg. Mehhhp!

At his next meal, Atticus rips the spoon from my hand to feed himself. Will only eat if I hand him the loaded spoon. Grabs the bowl when I’m not looking and dives in face first.  I know, it sounds like he’s hungry. But he really doesn’t want the food. He just wants the option.

Atticus went Margaritaville on the whole rolling over thing. As in, at eight months, he doesn’t do it. He can, says the doctor, he just doesn’t. Same with crawling. He gets his knees under him, rocks, scales the length of his crib five times over in a night, completely asleep, but faced with open space during the day, he is a resting tortoise. What he does do is sit, sweetly, playing with anything he can gum or make into a percussion instrument.

Instead, he has learned how to have an opinion. Which, as much as it foreshadows the end of babyhood and the beginning of person with independent thoughts — the chocolate-covered cranberry of parenting –it reassures me that he’s not as Paulie Bleeker as I’ve made him out to be.

Good news, because according to his father, a redhead can use a little attitude on the playground.