It's always been one of my son's favorite games: Peekaboo! Like most parents, we started playing when he was just days old, living for the day he would laugh as we popped out from behind our hands. Even now at nearly 2 years old, that old standby hasn't lost its thrill. Start up a game of Peekaboo and Noah still giggles with delight and calls out "I see you, Mama!" And he's not kidding about that. It's been said that mothers have eyes in the back of their heads, and while I'm sure that's true, I believe children have an even more powerful tool at their disposal: Kadar. That's kiddie radar.
Kadar refers to the incredible ability of a child to sense the exact moment at which his/her parent has begun to relax/sleep/eat/do anything other than devote full attention to him/her, and since my 2-week-old daughter clearly has it, I'm convinced it develops in the womb. Just this morning, her kadar was working overtime. It was 5:30am and we had been up for over an hour nursing, burping, changing and the like. Finally, after what felt like endless rocking, swaying, pleading and praying, those big, almond-shaped eyes began to droop shut. Swaddled tightly in her blanket I laid her down (for roughly the 38th time) in her bassinet. And this time..... silence! Doing my best Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible impersonation, I slid into bed without a sound, carefully removed my eyeglasses (heaven forbid even the sound of that tiny hinge wake her up!), shimmied into the covers and at last, at long LAST let my own weary eyes fall shut. It was of course at that very instant that Cecilia's kadar began sending out "CODE RED" messages to her brain, which resulted in immediate kicking, grunting, unswaddling and general "not sleeping" behaviors. So much for flying under the radar, or kadar!
An almost identical scenario played out just a few hours later, but this time I was a victim of the dreaded double kadar attack. First up: Cecilia. It was 8am and a carbon copy of the above, with the addition of a few extra bags under my eyes. This time I decided not to try and outsmart the kadar (never a good idea) and NOT even attempt to go back to sleep. Perhaps it's because I lived alone for so long before getting married, but I absolutely thrive on "alone time" in the mornings. I desperately need 15 minutes to myself to drink a cup of steaming hot tea, gather my thoughts (assuming I'm actually having any aside from "Man am I tired!") and a peanut butter slathered English muffin, and just be with myself (and occasionally Matt Lauer). Even in my current sleep deprived state I'll gladly sacrifice a few minutes of snoozing for my morning time; it's by far the most restful option out there. So "Take that, kadar!" I thought to myself as I crept down the stairs alone, savoring the impending taste of tea and solitude. Noah wasn't due up for nearly an hour, and Ceci would surely sleep another 15 minutes. Teacup in hand, PB and J in the other, I made my way to the couch which seemed to rise up and greet my weary bones. Enveloped in its comfort I took one bite, washed it down with a few piping hot sips and almost exhaled. Of course, that's the exact moment I heard a shrill, "MAMA!!!!! Bunny went BOOOOOOOM!!!!!" from up above. It was the plight of that little stuffed rabbit played out at top volume that must have registered on Cecilia's kadar screen, because she soon joined the chorus of cries. Drat, foiled again.
Kadar presents itself in many ways, including the uncanny ability of a baby to emit an explosive poop just as you prepare to leave the house (this feature seems especially sensitive to cold weather and increases exponentially with the number of layers of clothing that must be removed), or the way a toddler in church waits until the exact moment the entire congregation is bowed in silent prayer to throw his tantrum. Maybe it's just pure coincidence, or maybe it's nature's way of letting us know who the boss really is (not that there was ever any doubt). All I know is that the eyes in the front of my head could really use a break, so I'll have to work harder to outsmart the kadar. And maybe I won't be quite as eager to teach Cecilia how to play "Peekaboo."