My large and extremely in charge daughter,

You are two years and three months old. I would say I can’t believe it’s been that long, but I definitely can. Yeah, yeah, like They always say (“They” here being “people who don’t have to put you to bed at night,”), it goes by so fast, and esoterically it does; the weeks blend into each other and the months blend into the weeks and I am indeed somewhat shocked that I have not one, but two years’ worth of April 28 letters to behold in the archives. (Yes, I’m aware it’s the 29th. I WONDER WHY I HAVEN’T HAD THE TIME TO WRITE THIS YET. No I don’t, see below). At the same time, I feel like I’ve been a mother for ninety-twelve lifetimes (that is, at least, how long it feels like it’s been since I attended a spin class).

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Your babysitter Anna took this on one of your jaunts to the SLU campus, where she allows you to let your freak flag fly (and get your clothes wet, at which point you promptly freak out about having wet clothes.)

So, as you are currently fond of saying (albeit usually in a state of duress, demanding something be procured and produced for you in the oft-mysterious way you want it): WHAT’S UP WIT you these days?

I don’t know how much longer you’re going to nap right now (in your own little room, surrounded by ninety stuffed animals, with me next to you not for comfort or necessity, but simply because, I readily admit, cozied up next to a 35-pound chunk of sleeping toddler happens to be my favorite place to be, especially on a day as dark and Biblically raining as today), so I’ll have to keep this to the highlights.

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Keeping hydrated ON DA PURPLE COUCH.

At long last, you’ve finally gotten used to our new place. You’ve always liked DA LOFT, as you call it; that’s never been the problem. The problem was that you were so discombobulated by the upheaval in our lives that for near-on a calendar month, you refused to set foot outside DA LOFT.  We’d get two feet out the door and you’d look around, realize you were out-of-doors, and go BACK TO DA LOFT. BACK TO THE LOFT! Some days we’d make it a little bit further down the road before you lost it, which made it especially fun to trek the 15 minutes back home. I don’t think it was a coincidence that your biggest trigger was the stretch of block that used to be the exact midpoint between our old place and the Whole Foods (what was, once upon a time and a very small bank account ago, a five-minute walk and is now a fifteen minute walk); it was as if that random house’s driveway and stoop reminded you that you were unmoored in the world. We’ve started taking the long way to the store, down a different street, and you’ve deigned to allow us to food shop again.

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Another photo Anna took, after you discovered a hammock.

You still go to sleep after midnight. Every. Single. Night. And (PAY ATTENTION INTERNET), I will have you know that I HAVE ACTUALLY BEGUN TRYING STUFF to remedy this. I have dragged both my own exhausted ass (one that’s not gotten to bed until 1:45 in the a.m. and then been woken up to nurse twice) and yours at an appointed “not too late” time every morning so as to set you up for an earlier nap, from which I then again wake you (sometimes to great protest) at an appointed hour, even if you’ve only slept for 45 fucking minutes. I have sacrificed both the morning lie-in and the afternoon work/rest period in the fleeting hope that imposing a “schedule” will get you to start going to sleep even slightly earlier than your average college sophomore. I am still waiting for it to start working.

We went on a super-exciting trip to Austin to visit your cousins and your aunt and uncle! Grandpa came with us on the flight out, but I did the return flight ALL BY MYSELF. Why yes, I am a hero.

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A HERO.

After many months of indifference, you have once again swung in the direction of adoration of your father. You have started referring to him as YOUR DAD and YOUR FAZZER, often greeting him that way when he walks in. IT’S YOUR DAD!!!! IT’S YOUR FAZZER!!! (You still say “you” for “I” most of the time, though not all of the time; otherwise you speak better English than Sarah Palin.) Your favorite games to play with Your Fazzer include “Monkey Dance on the Purple Couch,” which involves him hoisting you up as high as he can and then letting you bounce down onto the sofa, and then dying of fatigue a lot. You still get really mad when he’s relaxing in any way. CAN PAPA GET UP? CAN PAPA GET UP? If you’re at all tired or hungry, your father daring to recline on any piece of furniture can still trigger a tantrum.

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Wth your cousin and a decapitated Grandpa at your aunt-in-law’s baby shower in Austin. We got to see a lot of friends and family in Austin, and also I gave a reading at a great bookstore that went really well, I’m sure you care to know.

You figured out how the front door works, and if we don’t lock the deadbolt you can open it and cruise out. The other day we were getting ready to take you to the park, and we were sort of dawdling about which food pouch we should bring for you, and suddenly we realized that you’d walked out the door, grown bored with waiting, and then walked back in again.

I found out the hard way the other day that you are no longer transferable when asleep.

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I DARE NOT MOVE THIS CHILD

I spend a large amount of every day attempting to coolly manipulate you into eating something; much like your father used to balk when I acted like I liked him too much back in our dating days, you abjectly refuse to eat if it appears I am at all eager for you to do so. When you do deign to consume anything other than Play-Doh, it is still limited to fruit smoothies, plain spaghetti with parmesan (heavy on the parmesan), fried tofu cubes from the Thai place, plain grilled chicken from IKEA, ice cream, and jelly beans, aka Rainbow Beans. For awhile our entire relationship was Rainbow-Bean-transactional; that’s how I got you to Austin for three days by myself, but that’s also how you got sick of Rainbow Beans. 

You are to the age when I no longer think it’s appropriate to talk about your Toilet Business to the general public, but, suffice it to say you are still not using the potty yet, not even a little. You are also still nursing like crazy, albeit generally at times of the day that coincide with you going to sleep. So in some ways I feel like I still have a baby, despite the fact that you otherwise do not look or act like one.

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A kid.

Shortly after we moved, we made the monumental decision to fork out about $100 at IKEA for your first solo sleep accommodation since the Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper you refused to use after you were born that subsequently became the world’s most expensive and least effective coffee holder. (Fake coffee; at the time I was drinking Tecchino chicory “herbal coffee” to boost my milk production.) Anyway, after literal years of you muscling us out of the bed we paid for (AND CONCEIVED YOU IN–GROSS!!!), we finally bought you a toddler bed…which we promptly set up right next to our bed. That thing is the perfect size for a toddler. It is NOT the perfect size for the toddler and the mother who desperately attempts to nurse that toddler to sleep as she parties her ass off for two hours every night, but we didn’t have room up in our new bedroom for anything bigger. The good news is that you sleep in that thing like a big fat rock from about 1-5 a.m., and then you either crawl back up with me without me noticing, or beckon me down to nurse you back to sleep (which takes about 2 minutes), so I am sleeping better, and as a bonus I even get to be next to my own husband most of the time.

Your Dance Moves continue to develop impressively; currently your routine consists of a tiptoe pivot turn with your arms aloft in the Beavis Cornholio position, and it’s generally accompanied with your assertion that I LOOK LIKE A BIG BIG BOOMSLANG, the latter being a very disturbing-looking bright green snake (IT’S KINDA LIKE A GREEN VINE SNAKE!!!! you will remind me) that you’ve learned all about in your giant Reptile-o-Pedia, which is your favorite book and the stuff of my nightmares.

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A BIG BIG BOOMSLANG!!!!!!!!

Speaking of books (and I realize this is kind of burying the lede, but I don’t want to make a big-ass deal about it), you have moved on from sight words to sounding out, and you can now basically read any word you want to, and are starting to understand sentences you read cold. I would put your reading level right now at about a first-grader, but without the attendant ability to make sense out of anything that does not involve cats in hats, shapes, colors or boomslangs. (Your favorite shape, for some reason, is a nonagon, which I can guarantee I had never even thought about as a shape until you started yammering about it.) You’re obsessed with spelling. You want to know how to spell everything. Every other thing out of your mouth is HOW YOU SPELL. HOW YOU SPELL NONAGON. HOW YOU SPELL UNCLE ADAM. HOW YOU SPELL WHAT HAPPENED. HOW YOU SPELL EXCELLENT.

Lest anyone think I am bragging about My Li’l Genius, something that you only started doing like two days ago is answering in the affirmative–a thing that a lot of kids start doing when they’re a hell of a lot younger than you, when they retire to sleep at 7:30 at night like NORMAL FUCKING KIDS. Anyway, at long, long last, if you are asked a yes/no question, you will usually answer it. You’ve been saying NO for years, but now, at long last, you also say yes. It’s always with a bit of a pause and then a lot of feeling. “Do you want some blueberries?” “No.” (Immediately.) “Do you want some strawberries?” (Pause pause pause). “…YES!!!!!!”

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Climbing in an excellent (AND DANGEROUS!) giant rebar slinky in the inimitable City Museum, which defies description, you just gotta go.

After over a year of thinking the library is the best place in the world, you now hate the library and will dissolve into panic if we even seem like we’re going to approach the building. 

You remember promises. Minutes, hours, days later. Oh, you remember. Always.

You have decided that you either really hate taking baths or you don’t take enough baths. Either way, the utterance of the WORD “bath” triggers a tantrum, either fer’ or agin’ (sometimes hard to tell until said tantrum is halfway through).

You associate me on my computer with me working, so if I ever attempt to use it in front of you, you slap my fingers away and go “WORK WORK WORK!!!!” (This makes me awash with guilt.)

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Sometimes you punch the shit out of me to make sure I know who’s boss.

Your new favorite thing is to demand to be sprung from your stroller about 2/3 of the way into our shopping trip to the grocery store, at which point you charge right out the sliding door and all the way back home. I mapped it the other day and it’s .7 miles, which you generally traverse as fast as your stocky little legs will carry you. Sometimes you strike up conversations with other pedestrians. (“HI!” you say. Hi, they say.) Sometimes you stop at a particular set of bike racks that has a flat metal component and proclaim them to be your “gongs” and bang them with a stick for ten minutes. Sometimes you insist on picking up all the cigarette lighters you see on the ground. Often our trip home from the store takes 45 minutes—but it’s not like I have anything better to do, especially considering that these trips usually take place at about 8 p.m. and you’ll almost invariably be up for another four to 4.5 hours.

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MY GONG!!!!

Every night at about 12:50, I cross over from exhaustion to despair, and I believe that this will at long last be the night you don’t sleep at all. Your father snores quietly next to us (or sometimes not so quietly), roused only when your mood gets either very good or very bad, and your voice escalates accordingly. I feel like you and I are the only two people on earth, like I am trapped at the bottom of a very deep well with no way out. But just as I am about to start sobbing and jump off the balcony (we sleep in an elevated loft about 8 feet above our living room now), you drift off at last. And I look at your angelic chubby face and I just want to melt into it. Sure, you’ve been doing this to me for two years and counting. But soon enough you won’t be. Soon enough you wouldn’t crawl into my bed at 4 a.m. if I offered you $1000.

Welp, you just marched up to me, slapped my fingers away, and said WORK!!! I guess that’s my cue.

Mama

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