My girl tot sports the personality of a 3-year-old: pushy in her immediate wants, nonchalant of important needs, flighty in her quest for independence, adventuresome and supercurious. It’s been a few months of our noticing her official nature egress, but I have always sensed something of an “old soul” with the kid, literally since she was bathed by nurses and carted back to my room in her bassinet after birth.
I recall propping myself up in my hospital bed and glancing over at her under the heat lamp, as her temperature was a tad bit lower than the doctor minded. She was blissfully “tanning,” unaware of my awe-inspired stare while touching her own little face gingerly like, “Ahh. I made it. This sun is nice.” I remember thinking, “Where have we met before?” She was so familiar, comfortable like a pleasant acquaintance.
In other words, she’s been “here” before.
Now that her definitive personality parades our home, we look for opportunities in transitioning her sociability and introducing her to new people and new experiences. She is attended to at home alone with my nephew as mommy and daddy run a business and big brother goes to daycare. This arrangement has yielded great benefits: toys are readily available for her varying interests, food is betrothed at her demanding whim, and she recruits all of the attention she desires.
However, she has become quite a cold wanderer and skeptical host.
It’s a surprise to us when she smiles at someone she doesn’t know or immediately remember because her normal resting face is, well, ornery. At times, I have difficulty cracking her strongly serious façade, especially when she is awakened in the morning. And she is only a baby.
So she says.
Jai is particularly wary of certain behaviors and will cannonball the sharpest evil eye she can construct before completely ignoring the interloper. Those persons added to her list of nemeses include:
–Those who try to impress solely with wit or smile. See: no gifts.
Jai has shown an early attraction to electronics and will only provide a tolerance, albeit the lowest level, if someone is not leading introductions with a device she can entrust with her scrutiny. Also available attractants: a pack of crackers, a cup of juice, or one of her toys. A forkful of macaroni and cheese. A chicken leg. Giving her a kind grin and a compliment will warrant a frown nine times. On the tenth time, she’ll just turn her head and grimace at the ceiling.
Jai must be bribed.
–Those who get too close without permission.
Her authorization of affection includes an approved side grin and a willingness to go to the person’s arms. Jai will not grant the blessing of her dimples any sooner than when she is ready and could potentially unleash her wrath towards anyone who picks her up suddenly or walks towards her quickly.
Jai must delegate consent.
–Anyone who touches her hair.
This means she is often screaming unfriendly babbles at mommy, particularly on “Wash Wednesday” and “Condition Sunday.” My daughter rocks a crop of curly hair that sits atop in something like a bun shape. The rest of her hair is taking its time to grow in, giving mommy a chance to learn how to style before her ringlets become years of contention between the two of us. Being a curly-haired kid most certainly means distrusting the detangling process, even though I am quite gentle and sensitive to her circumstance as a curly-haired mom. Luckily, this handful of invaders arrive at Jai’s rage rapidly and dramatically, but temporarily. She can be soothed by the tokens from group 1.
Jai must have control.
–Someone calling her name when she is “busy.”
Due to the wackiness associated with a young toddler’s brain, “busy” is a subjective condition that can appear as legitimately preoccupied or not even mentally conscious. Jai strolling down the hallway is too overburdened with plans to turn around and focus on the requesting person. Jai tearing into a bowl of popcorn that belonged to Jrue is too active to glance over at the person telling her to stop. Jai laying in the hallway is possibly having an existential crisis and, therefore, too turbulent to give a person the time of day. It’s funny until we do it to her. Then there’s a tantrum: face-down screaming into the carpet.
Jai must desire interest.
All of these examples maintaining the collective risk group are null and void if the person’s identification is “Jai’s Daddy,” by the way.
And this way it shall remain.