Phragments from Phyllis: Little personalities come through early

It was a grandchild-filled weekend as Tom and I began with baby-sitting Pearce in Greenville and ended with Preschool Sunday at church.

We went up to Greenville on Friday afternoon, so Liz and Vince could go to a rehearsal dinner that evening and then brunch and wedding the following day.

Twelve-week-old Pearce is certainly coming into her own. She has already learned what buttons to push, particularly where her mother is concerned. And who hasn't had that experience - when you're sure whatever is wrong must be your fault, when maybe it's the child learning what rattles your chain the most.We fared nicely, mostly, except that Pearce is not real accustomed to a bottle, so she was a bit unsure of eating when Tom or I were the ones trying to feed her. She would cry a little, then fall asleep, then decide she was more hungry than concerned with the bottle-holder and finally eat.

And I've decided I hope the genius who invented the new version of "swaddlers" should be a millionaire. Oh, we tried to swaddle babies in a blanket, wrapping as tightly as we could - but never up to the standards of the nurses in the hospital. Now there's a marvelous device that looks like a small, blanketlike sleeping bag with fabric pieces to wrap the baby's arms in and larger ends of fabric to wrap the entire baby - plus the already-swaddled arms. As soon as we got Pearce wrapped in this contraption, she would calm and begin to soothe herself for sleep. It was marvelous.

We got more acquainted on Saturday while everyone was at the wedding and reception. Tom and I walked Pearce around the neighborhood. She, like most babies, loves the stroller. She immediately chilled out, smiling at us, looking at the world and obviously enjoying the sun and fresh air.

We came home in time for Cade's program at church during Preschool Sunday. Payton was not in the program, and she's still not comfortable with the children's church, so she kept her in the sanctuary. The only problem is that when she's "reading" a book, she likes to tell the story to herself out loud. It's difficult to explain to her that when the minister is preaching, it is probably not the best time share her story with the folks in the neighboring pews.

At the same time, Cade is already known for his singing ability, so I was surprised when he was not doing all the hand-gestures that went with the songs. Usually he leads the way in that regard. Then I realized he was very focused - evidenced by the look of concentration on his face - on singing the words correctly and was spending all his energy on that. As usual, his singing was wonderful.

We all enjoyed a barbecue dinner following the service, and again personalities came to the fore. Payton ate barbecue, more barbecue and cake. Cade, on the other hand, ate one mouthful of barbecue at the request of his dad and ate virtually all of a huge pile of macaroni and cheese. He's never been much of a meat eater, while Payton was born wanting steak.

Monday brought more new experiences in Greenville for Pearce and her mama. It was Liz's first day back at work and Pearce's first day in day care. Momma was a basket case, particularly when they called at lunch to say Pearce wouldn't take a bottle from any of them.

I refrained from telling Liz the story I've told many times. The first time I left her and her siblings for a week, when I returned, she would not look at me, much less talk to me or let me hold her for two days after we got back. I felt then, and still do, that she wanted me to know she was not pleased and that I must pay for "abandoning" her. By the time she was 3, it was much more subtle. I'd drop her off at Mother's Day Out, and she would sit stoically in her car seat, not saying a word but with chin quivering and a tear or two rolling down her face. Talk about guilt.

I have to wonder if Pearce's first day is not a similar gesture of control.

I keep telling Liz that Pearce will be fine, that she will begin to like the interaction with other children and that she won't remember being left at day care for the first time. But for a new mom who already has a huge amount of guilt over leaving her child for the first time, it's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I'm saying a prayer for a better second day.