I can't help but smile as I head into Pumpkin's day care center to pick her up. This is partly because I am on my way to get my precious little girl, and partly because the bigger kids are all outside playing at this time of day, and their joyous laughter and shrieks are infectious.
When I reach Pumpkin's room, I open the door slowly, as the sign requests (babies are at play!) and walk in carefully. Pumpkin is almost always playing near the window. If she is facing me, her face breaks into a giant grin as soon as I walk in, and she puts down her toy and crawls towards me. (Last week, she even said "Mama" while she crawled.) I pick her up, and she gives me hugs and love pats (our word for the palm-down flapping/slapping motion she makes when she's happy to see the person who is holding her). She immediately starts pointing at things around the room (the phone, pictures of babies, the day care workers, the other babies....) and grabs onto my hair as I go over to pick up her daily report sheet and any bottles that are in the room. If she is facing away from me when I come in, I sneak up on her, and tap her on her shoulder. She turns around, sees me, gets a big grin on her face, and then we launch into our routine.
All in all, it is a wonderful part of my day. I am happy to see her so happy at day care. I am happy to see that the day care workers clearly enjoy her, too- they are having almost as much fun with the pointing phase as we are. Today, I saw her little plastic bag of graham crackers (her favorite food) hanging from a mobile near the high chairs. I'm sure that this was there so that Pumpkin could point at that the crackers to indicate that she wanted more. Everyone waves bye-bye to her, so that she can wave enthusiastically back. Then we walk over to the other baby room, which is where she spends most of her day, and pack up her stuff. I play a game, or give her a bottle as a toy, or sing her a song to distract her while I put her in her car seat, and then we leave and drive home.
If the traffic isn't bad, we get home in time for a walk. She likes to be carried in the Baby Bjorn. She gets excited when I get it out of her closet, and crawls over to pull on my pants legs until I pick her up and put her in the carrier. Then we head out for a walk around the block, during which she might wave at some of our neighbors or chat to me in her baby language that I can't understand. If she sees a car or truck go by, she might point. If she sees a bird fly over head, she will definitely point and say "Da!" I name everything that she points at. I would sound a bit strange to someone passing by who did not see the baby on my chest: "Bird! Car. Car. Bird! Dog. Bird!"
If traffic is bad, we go outside for a swing instead of going for a walk. She absolutely adores swinging in the swing her grandparents bought for her. She loves it so much that she never wants to quit. When, after 15 or 20 minutes, I decide that it is time to go in so that she can have dinner, she wraps her legs around the restraining bar as best she can (her legs aren't quite long enough to really wrap them around), grabs onto the straps, and screeches at me. She is quickly distracted once we're inside, though, either by a toy or by a cracker.
She grins and giggles when Daddy comes home, and one of us feeds her dinner. I'm exhausted by the time dinner is over, but I love our after work routine.
Our morning routine has its joys, too. The best part is actually when I leave for work. Her Daddy holds her, and they wave bye-bye to me as I go out the door. She grins and waves enthusiastically. So my work day is bracketed by a grinning, happy baby. I couldn't ask for a better way to start or end the work day!