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circle of love

Much as we enjoy watching our little man learn to physically navigate the world, the most interesting development, which has crystallized over many months, is how he already has figured out to modulate his behavior when he interacts with us. It almost feels as if he has developed a hierarchy of love, instinctually knowing how to tug at our heart strings to maximize the TLC we shower upon him.

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S clearly occupies the top spot for his affections. Munchkin is not overly clingy, and he usually does not fuss when she’s not around, unless he sees her and she’s not paying attention to him. That can be grounds for a serious meltdown. And once she starts interacting with him, trying to pass him off to someone else not infrequently triggers a whiny protest.

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If he is truly upset, sometimes D does not even bother trying to calm him because he knows the effort would be futile. Sometimes there is simply no substitute for a mother’s comforting caress. On the other hand, Munchkin is also far more likely to try to stretch his boundaries with his mama. He senses that whining simply because he wants something is not likely to engender much sympathy from D, so he tends to be calmer when D is alone with him.

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D also seems to be better at coaxing giggles from him. It could be that D’s baby Russian sounds funnier, though more likely this has to do with how we apportion our time with Munchkin. D tries to help, but there is no question that S bears the brunt of the tough child rearing duties. Because D only sees Munchkin for a few hours each day when he comes home from work, he tries to maximize reading and play time. It seems that Munchkin has picked up on this and grows visibly excited when he sees D walk through the door.

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And then there is Olya, who has been Munchkin’s nanny since we brought him to Moldova at the tender age of 7 weeks. It is clear that Munchkin adores her, yet she also manages to command a degree of obedience that we cannot coax from him. Whereas, with us he rarely stays still for more than 30 seconds at a time, he can seemingly spend hours on end simply sitting in her lap. And once he grew picky about his food, it is Olya who somehow manages to make him eat foods we long ago gave up on trying to feed him.

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There is one more member of Munchkin’s inner circle of love that bears mentioning. It is his penguin. We rotated several stuffed animals through his crib, and he latched onto this one. We try to keep it in his crib but sometimes — if we don’t come get him fast enough when he awakes — he squeezes his penguin so tight that it’s impossible to get it out of his grasp. And the cries that ensue when he is separated from his favorite comfort toy are nearly as bad as when S walks out of a room and leaves him all alone.

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It’s cute, but has us a little worried because if anything should happen to his penguin, we are unsure how we would cope with the sadness that would be sure to follow. We’ve learning towards purchasing a replacement penguin, just in case, which we plan on rotating into use not unlike a spare car tire in the hopes that Munchkin will scuff up both toys to the point that they become indistinguishable.

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