Wednesday, August 28, 2013

thank you

Dear Pea,
In my topsy turvey first year of parenthood, a year of mourning, of whiplash, of struggles too painful and joys too plentiful to name, a dear dear friend sent me a book. That book closes with snippet of words that rang so true, so profound to me in my postpartum haze that I still can not even think of them without tearing up. Here it is in its entirety:

I think the final three words become more powerful with the rest of the paragraphs in front of them. But those final three are the most salient. It's become my inner mantra. I don't say it out loud, but I say it to myself all the time. So, out loud, I offer gratitude wherever I find it, whenever I feel it.

And so do you.

Not because we prompt you. We don't sings-ongy ask you "what do you say?" after receiving something. But almost every time someone says "here you go" you say "thank you."

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Your 20th month

Dear Pea,
Your 20th month has brought about big changes. You are completely, undeniably, 100% toddler. No more baby. You speak in sentences: "I want milk on the couch" "Mama, read this book please" "Daddy is all done with the shower." You take off running when presented with any open space. You run with your arms flapping by your sides, as if you are too excited to to remain grounded and are requesting flight. You run with intention, with joy, with no direction. Sometimes I try to chase you, playing "I'm going to get you" and you squeal with glee, but it's difficult to chase you because you are content to wander and I can't anticipate your next move.

With running comes falling down. Skinned knees, bruised elbows and boo boos abound. You insist on having your boo boos kissed my me and Daddy about ten times a day. Sometimes first thing in the morning you will wake up and say "mama kiss boo boos!" and, of course, I do. I fell off my bike last week and have some spectacular boo boos of my own and you like to kiss them after I kiss yours. This was unprompted, you just made the connection. "I kiss!"  You also keep track of the boo boos you have received. Your buddy H is in a little bit of a biting phase and you keep pointing out where he bit you and having us kiss the boo boo. This was a month ago now, but you won't forget. You don't hold it against H, you still love to play with him, you just know that he bit you.

You know all of these guys by name and ask about them constantly. 

These guys, too

You really love to play with your friends. Or, rather, you love to talk about your friends. You will spend all day getting excited to see a buddy, taking it up, and then when you see them, you don't really interact. Or it takes you a long time to warm up. The child development books say that people your age engage in "parallel play" which means that you play near each other, but not really with each other. This is mostly true, though you definitely interact and play with sometimes, too. 

 you and H

You sing along when I sing. Old McDonald, some Vared songs, Happy Birthday. You request songs by name or by chorus. Or the Alphabet song by saying H,I,U,V. You love to sign, and know more signs than I do, I think. The latest are hot and cold-you've been signing cold when you want something cold to drink ("cold seltzer!") and hot when you want something hot to eat ("hot soup!"). You call sign language "nice." You like to count, though almost always say there are TWO of anything when there are more than one. "Two boys!" in the photo of Bob bob and his three brothers, "two blocks!" when looking at your set of 24, "two hats!" when you're wearing two or more on your head at any given time. We correct you by counting out how many there really are and you nod emphatically and again say there are two. You enjoy counting with us when we're counting, particularly when walking up stairs. There are 17 stairs leading up to our apartment.  You count 1, 2, then are silent until 8. Sometimes you'll say 10, too, but often you are silent again until 13, 14, 15. Maybe the teens are just more fun to say.

We have started night weaning, which has been tough. You've always nursed to sleep and this is a big change. The first night, I was so nervous that I kept pushing back your bedtime, letting you watch your favorite signing DVD and keeping you up until nearly 9pm. Finally, though, you were clearly ready for bed, so we nursed on the couch until you were done and then got in bed. I explained that the boobies were sleeping and you'd have milk in the morning and you were so sad, it broke my heart. But you fell asleep without nursing and each night it's been a little easier.You still have milk throughout the night, that will be the next step. I'm in no hurry to wean you completely, that will be up to you, though you have naturally dramatically decreased the amount of milk you want. You really only nurse around sleep times-first thing in the morning, for nap and before bed. Once in awhile you want some mid-morning and late afternoon. We practice "don't offer, don't refuse" so I don't say no if you really want it, but I will try to distract you or offer you something else before offering milk.  Sometimes you're actually happy to eat a snack, or read a book, or have a snuggle and sometimes you really want the milk, so then you get it. The only time I flat out refuse is in bed for the night.

Sometimes you are difficult for me to deal with. In stereotypical toddler fashion, you love to scream "NO!" I mean, scream, with vibrato and force. Sometimes because you really don't want to do what we're asking, sometimes because some is trying to play with something of yours, sometimes just for fun. It can be trying. Hardest for me is when we've spent a good amount of time doing something wonderfully fun and you pitch a fit when it's time to leave. I want you to say "thank you, mama, what a fun morning, I'm ready for a nap now" and then fall gently to sleep. In reality, you scream "NO!" and "MORE!" and fight me getting into the stroller ("I want to walk!") and then demand that I sign "Dell!" (The Farmer in the Dell) or "Bus wheels!" (The Wheels on the Bus) to help you sleep as we walk. When I sit back, I know that your reaction actually is toddler speak for "thank you, mama, what a fun morning, I'm ready for a nap now" but sometimes I get lost in translation. I'm sorry.

In fact, there have been many times in the past month where I have been 100% convinced that I am doing everything wrong. Not setting enough boundaries, not being gentle enough, not sending the right messages. After one particularly awful morning, I could not take it anymore and put you in the jogging stroller and went for a run. You had been cranky in the apartment, but now yelled "whee!" and pointed out every bike and baby you saw. About 2 miles in, my anger subsiding, you turned back to me and said" Mama running! Mama feels good!"  Ok, so maybe I'm not doing everything wrong. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

All the ways you make my heart burst

Dear Pea,
You have started singing along when I sing to you. One of our favorite kid's musicians is our neighbor and we've been listening to her CD since you were a newborn. Now when I sing the songs, you start singing, too. You also sing Row Row Row Your Boat (well, just "row row row" over and over) and jump in with H I J during the alphabet song. We walk down the street together singing and my heart just melts.

You are obsessed with buckles. You will sit for 20 minutes or more clicking them together, asking for help undoing them and them redoing them. Sometimes you'll affirm "more click!" You ask for help as soon as they have been fastened "Hep, peas!" It's the "peas" that kills me. You will often sign for "please" as you're asking. And very often, we get a "tink to!" once we open it for you. That's right, Sweet Pea. At 18 and a half months, you use "please" and "thank you" unprompted. Amazing. Heart burst!

 some of your favorite buckles!

You like to help me in the kitchen. I make banana bread and salads and smoothies and you "want to dump!" the ingredients into the bowl or blender. I measure them out and you dump them in. Sometimes you'll wander into the kitchen and say "I want to dump!" unprompted and we'll start a food project together. I love love love that we're already cooking together.

eating some of what you've helped prepare

I let you play with my keys the other day while I was putting away clean laundry. A couple of hours later, I needed to leave and couldn't find my keys. Remembering that you had been playing with them, I asked you if you knew where they were. You walked right over to the laundry hamper, pointed in and said "keys!" Yup, there they were!