My gale-force windstorm of a daughter! You are twenty-eight months old and supremely indefatigable. You crack me up and you break me down. But, as months of Fluffy-Trouble-based survival go, the past one has brought a slight down-tick in torture, or uptick in ease, if you insist on being an optimistic fuckface about everything.

Practicing “your technique” as you scale the kiddie climbing wall at our local playground. More on that in a minute.

YOU DEIGN TO LEAVE THE HOUSE AGAIN. 

This is very good. It took you a little over a month to finally get settled down into DA LOFT, but now you are, and unless you’re in a truly putrid mood, we are able to wrangle you to the store (even using the “old route,” where you no longer break down in the middle of the block), and we can even—after several months of full anxiety attacks when we so much as approached the block it’s on—take you to the library. You still have a seventeenth sense for whenever your mother needs to be on a work call, though. Work call = intense separation anxiety, the more intense and necessary the work call, the more pronounced the anxiety.

Two ladies out on the town enjoying beverages. Or, at any rate, at the coffee shop we can see from our house.

YOUR BABYSITTER GRADUATED AND I MAY DIE

Godspeed, Anna, into a very bright future, but Jesus H. Christ do I miss her. You haven’t had a chance to be reminded that she’s gone yet, so you’re doing all right, but by the time she left you were super attached to her. Your favorite place to go together was the Science Center, where she said your favorite place to run around was the solar system model, some of which had reflective surfaces in which you’d see yourself and then proclaim: I LOOK LIKE SATURN! I LOOK LIKE URANUS! (Also one of your favorite words to yell in public with no context, so). And, when it was just the night sky between planets, I LOOK LIKE DARKNESS! When you repeat that at home it’s surprisingly profound.

WE WENT TO NEW YORK CITY

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Your first album cover for sure.
And it was a Thing. Actually, you were a sport and a half about it, from the three-hour delay on the flight out to the four-square-foot hotel room (that nevertheless probably cost my publisher $400 a night, and for which I am immensely grateful), to our assertions that New York City was “our new home” for two days so you did not need to go back to DA LOFT.

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This was an incredible moment where we were going to pick up takeout and you climbed out of your stroller and insisted on tearing down Greenwich Avenue. It was a moment of pure unadulterated human joy. So, obviously, the New Yorkers reacted by scowling at you because you were apparently in their way and making them late to the the meeting of the Goddamned Center of the Universe Club.
Aside from an unfortunate moment in which you woke up from your nap and I wasn’t there, which happened in Washington Square Park and thus resulted in your father being on the receiving end of a lot of New Yorker scowls and unsolicited advice (and a few bench-movers), you had an absolute ball there, with the aforementioned Park the single best place you’ve ever seen, from its impromptu jazz concerts to its three exciting (and penned-in!) playgrounds, one of which had a giant bubble demonstration.

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Yes, Washington Square Park has areas designated for children. Who knew?
Aside from the fact that we’d have to be a jabillionaire to live there and even if we were jabillionaires and did live there we still wouldn’t have enough money to live in the West Village, and even if we did live in the West Village I wouldn’t fit in with the other toddlers and their $4000 strollers and their nannies that (rightly) make twice what I do—aside from all that, I miss the hell out of New York and it was really delightful to show you around.

Your father and I both attended NYU, at different times. I also lived about two blocks from here in 1999. Tiny apartment, evil boyfriend, amazing neighborhood.
Not pictured: the greasy, terrible-amazing pizza we obliterated.
Say what you want about New York City sand, but it honestly seemed pretty clean. At least compared to the pile of actual human shit currently festering underneath the play structure at our favorite park at home (see above; not pictured: human shit).
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You fell asleep exactly like this on the plane, joining a long line of Schuman women who conk out in transit with their heads lolling back and their mouths hanging open.
YOU ARE OBSESSED WITH THE WIGGLES

In fact, I’d like to personally thank the object of your current affection, Lachy Gillespie, for keeping you about as happy as a discombobulated two-year-old can be on a whirlwind trip, and on trips to the grocery store when you don’t want to go and I need to go. THANK YOU, THE WIGGLES.

POTTY TRAINING HA HA HA HA HA

You’re now in possession of about a half-dozen pairs of “training underwear,” which are cotton underpants with a sort of mini-cloth-diaper built into the crotch. At present they are more fashion statements than successful functioning things that make toilet learning happen, and that is all I’ll say about your Toilet Business in public, except for this: Our diaper days aren’t as numbered as I’d like them to be, but the end may, at long last, be coming into sight.

YOU FORGOT SOMETHING!

Every night when you’re in the middle of your partying and refusing to go to sleep until after midnight, you deploy various techniques to keep yourself and us awake. My favorite of these techniques is for you to exclaim, I FORGOT SOMESING! and climb out of bed, and then ask yourself, WHAT YOU FORGET? and then going to get whatever toy strikes your fancy. You’ve also taken to ask WHERE WE GOING? every time we leave to go somewhere, and you’re generally satisfied with the answer, and when you don’t want to do something, you now go NO NO NO NO NO YOU DON’T WANT TO? before sometimes changing your mind and going, YOU DO WANT TO! It’s very concise.

YOU CAN STILL READ

And you’re getting better at it every day. At this point you can sound out most words, and you can read a sentence phonetically, then figure out what it means, then repeat it with feeling.

YIPS AND NOPES

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Taking a nap is A Yip. Sleeping past 6pm is A Nope.
For the first time in your life, you have taken a slight interest in the normative order of your world. It started the other day when I caught you drawing on your wall, and instead of getting mad and “punishing” you with a “time out” or somesuch, we took a Time In where I sat you down on the couch and explained that some things are Nopes and other things are Yips. Drawing on paper, for example, is A Yip. Drawing most other places? A Nope. To my incredible surprise, you latched onto this like crazy, and for the past week you’ve been demanding LET’S TALK ABOUT YIPS AND NOPES, and we go through every scenario I can think of (taking a bath? standing up in the bath? using the potty? throwing a ball? kicking people?) viz. its Yip or Nopeitude. I’m not sure how much it’s mitigated you actually DOING the Nopes, but at least now when you start your Nope, you know it’s A Nope, and are generally dissuaded from continuing down the path of Nope.

Drawing on yourself is A Yip, because you own your body and can ornament it as you see fit. Provided it’s washable.

YOU SHOULD PROBABLY HAVE JAUNDICE

Your diet still consists of plain spaghetti, pizza, ice cream, gummy candy, the occasional piece of fruit, and the even more occasional “healthy” superfoods pouch, which is the source of 100 percent of your vegetable intake. The only reason you DON’T have scurvy is that yes, at two years and four months, you are still breastfeeding with aplomb, with no sign of stopping. Every once in awhile I count down from ten to limit the amount of time you spend on there, and that’s the closest I’ve been able to come to “weaning.” I’ve also tried a bit harder not to nurse you in public without a scarf over your head, because I don’t want to withstand any obnoxious judgey comments, etc.

YOU ARE WONDERFUL AND I AM TRYING TO DESERVE YOU

I won’t lie, kid. This is a tough time to be an adult. The world is a depressing-ass place full of evil people doing bad shit, and in very petty smaller news, my career isn’t going the way I wish it would; I just don’t have a journalistic foothold in a world full of conspiracy theories and outrage porn, and I don’t have it in me to create either of those things (in the case of the second thing, create it anymore), and so I’m just kind of floating adrift wondering if there will ever be a real market for scathing critique of petty stuff or lighthearted explication of German stuff. I really hope there will be, not for my own sake, but for the sake of the world, because that will mean it has returned to the non-apocalyptic status quo of regular suckitude. You did great on our trip; I was the one who was nearly apoplectic with anxiety. I am trying my god-damnedest to find as much to be OK with in the world every moment of every day, so that I can mirror back to you a tiny percentage of the Weltanschauung-exploding joy that you provide with every single proclamation of stuff-forgetting and darkness-resembling and being your irrepressible, hilarious, impossible, perfect self. I love you so much. 

Exploring forest park with your dad. Not pictured: the duck you saw and freaked out about. Also not pictured: the poison ivy you got on your hands.

This week I taught you how to say “I’m sorry” (so much for my New Year’s Resolution…), because at Trader Joe’s you hit people in the shins with your Kid Cart a lot, and that is the appropriate accompanying exclamation.

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Next stop: shins.
I taught you that when you say “I’m sorry,” I’ll say “That’s OK,” and when I say I’m sorry, you can do the same. The other night I got a little short with you because you hadn’t taken a nap and it was a billion o’clock and I was depressed about my own failures and you got sad, and I scooped you up and sat you on my lap, and I said, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” And you broke into a massive grin, looked me in the face, and said, “DAT’S OK.”

Everything about you, my little one, is A Yip.

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Yip Yip Yip.


Mama.

***

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2 thoughts on “Two Years, Four Months: I LOOK LIKE DARKNESS

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