My dearest and most eminent little one:
For the first time since you were born, I have failed you. Ah haha I’m kidding–I have failed you so, so many times since you were born. I failed you WHILE you were born when I couldn’t push you out like a real woman! I failed you for the first two weeks you were alive, when the only thing I saw of you was the side of your head and the outline of your ear as you gobbled up my life force, and I could barely make out the world through the haze of hormones and pain and exhaustion and terror, and I was afraid of you more than anything else, and every time TO THIS DAY I see people posting pics of their newborns with captions about being “so in love” or “over the moon” I’m apoplectic with guilt, because I did not feel over the moon or in love with you until you were at least a month old. If it hadn’t been for a few really kind strangers on the Internet who told me the first two months are not something you have to enjoy, they’re something you have to survive, I probably would have been so consumed with guilt I might not have ever come out of it. Anyway, this is not a catalog of all the ways I’ve failed you since you were born, because there is not an Internet wide enough to capture that particular litany, BUT, yesterday I failed you in a new and exciting way: Because I had a deadline for my new column and had to pack us for the three-day trip to Iowa we are currently on (I’m giving a talk to disillusioned grad students about how to be like me, which I am pretty sure they should not want to do, but hey, free trip!), I completely forgot to write your monthly update on the 28th, something I promised myself I would do NO MATTER HOW TIRED I WAS. (Except for the three months I only did a three-monthly update. But then I decided to do monthly again. THIS IS INTERESTING.)
Anyway. Here we are. We’re in Iowa City, ensconced in a killer hotel room with a bathtub so deep you could swim in it (if you knew how to swim), and you and I stripped down to our birthday suits and plunged in the second we set eyes on it.
Double-anyway. If I were a heedless reckless jinxer-of-self, I would venture to say that because of your propensity toward yapping your head off (i.e. “advanced verbal ability,” whatevs), you are communicative enough w/r/t your IMMEDIATE AND IMPORTANT NEEDS that I BELIEVE that you have actually passed what we used to call “peak toddler,” where you threw tantrums and tried to eat cat litter and the like. I say this–again, likely damning myself to two more years of Peak Toddler–because although you still get very mad when your IMMEDIATE AND IMPORTANT NEEDS are not met, you don’t really tantrum anymore. (Cue tantrums all day tomorrow when I’m trying to give my symposium talk.)
The other thing is that somehow in the last two weeks you shot up like 15 inches, gained 200 pounds, and started to look like a kid instead of a baby, for realsies. EVERYBODY has noticed. All your friends’ parents at the library, your beloved babysitter Anna (“she’s going to throw my back out one of these days!”), the manufacturers of diapers. Speaking of which, you are now in the largest size they make outside of specialty providers, and yet you are SO NOT INTERESTED in using the terlet, and yet you are EVEN LESS INTERESTED in getting your diaper changed. Every three months or so since you were eight months old, you’ve gone through these periods of extreme (and disgusting) aversion to getting changed, where you’ll flip over in the middle of the proceedings and crawl/waddle/sprint away, everything eles in your path that doesn’t want to get covered in feces be damned. My ability to keep my cool in the midst of these proceedings is directly proportional to how much I’ve eaten recently and the Amazon sales ranking of my book, which I am not supposed to pay attention to (per my publisher and agent), and, if I must pay attention to it, am not supposed to do so more than once a day (per your papa). Anyway, if this hadn’t happened about four times before I’d be despondent right now, but I am reasonably confident that this, too, shall pass. Into something worse, probably, but hey.
You know what you love doing right now? Spelling stuff. You can spell the SHIT out of stuff. You could probably spell “shit” if I asked you. Somehow in the last month you sort of figured out how words were formed, so now you can go from “cat” to “rat” to “bat” and “book” to “look” and “train” to “pain.” You can pronounce words spelled for you that you’ve never heard or read (“What’s w-a-r?” “War,” pronounced to rhyme with “car”), and you can spell words you’ve never seen based on other words you have (“tweet” based on “sweet”). I have NO idea how you learned this. I am assuming it has something to do with Dora the Explorer, since you come on vámonos, everybody let’s go, come on let’s get to it, I know that we can do it about 900 times a day (NOT REALLY, I AM A GOOD MOTHER, NO I’M NOT, SEE ABOVE). All’s I’m saying is that we do not force you to do flash card drills and Baby Wittgenstein logic proofs all day or anything. You just get interested in stuff like spelling for awhile and we try to let you go with it.
You know what you’re NOT interested in? SLEEPING. All right, right this SECOND you’re sleeping, but that’s because you blew through the day without a nap and melted down and crashed hard at nine, which you used to do all the time but now rarely do. Now your MO is to ball hard until about 4:30 or 5 in the afternoon, crash for an angry nap until well into the supping hour, and then wake up and bounce off the walls until about 1 in the a.m. The only somewhat incremental improvement in your sleep “schedule” is that at night you don’t nurse to sleep anymore (usually). You still nurse (A LOT, I am now One Of Those Moms nursing a giant toddler/preschooler/kid/oh god it’s people and it’s suckling on a boobie in public what is happening), but at night now, when you’ve exhausted yourself and we’ve exhausted the Probably Very Dangerous Kid Sleep Hypnosis album we play for you every night (who knows what sort of Rosemary’s Baby/Get Out thing we’re going to be doing in two years out of nowhere), you flop down on your back and recite the scene from Frozen where little Anna goes “I just can’t! The sky’s awake so I’m awake, so we have to play!” about 900 times, and then it turns breathy and mumbly, and then you drift off in my arms. It’s adorable and precious but I’m tired! You have the most bizarre sleep habits of any human, large or small, I’ve ever met, and there is nothing I can do about it, and I. HAVE. TRIED. I assume that by the time you leave for college this shit will not be my problem anymore. And lucky for me, if you keep with the reading and stuff, that will be when you’re 7 and it’ll be your dorm-mate’s issue by then.
You have three imaginary friends: Vanessa, Xena and Jann. I’m not sure what different roles they play in your life now, but they all seem very important to you.
You love to make up songs. One of your favorites goes: RAINBOW RAINBOW, COLOR COLOR, RAINBOW RAINBOW ALL AROUND.
You love to run around the room clapping and spinning, proclaiming that you are DOING YOUR YACHT DANCE.
You only eat like four things: blueberries, mac and cheese (prepared EXACTLY as the box says OR ELSE), cereal and ice cream. Pretty sure that’s exactly what the pediatrician said to give you, so, killing it.
You do this hilarious thing when you’re about to get pissed off, where you ask for something you know I’m not going to let you do–like watching Dora before bedtime–and as I’m about to deflect to you, you cut me off and, in a tone-perfect imitation of my own hem-hawing, you go: “WAYYYYYLLL…it’s too LATE to watch Dora!” It’s hilarious until the crying starts.
Wayyyyyylllll, little one, my apex of ridiculous precious impossibility. I gotta get some sleep. See you on the F-L-I-P side.