Dear Small Person:
You are two years and eight months old today. It is the first anniversary of when you broke me, and the second anniversary of when the internet broke me viz you breaking me with your sleep issues. If I were a believer in patterns, I’d say that the X + 8 months is a cursed time, but even with our new, improved, heavily regimented life (I’ll get to that in a sec), when it comes to you, there is only entropy and coincidence.
A few minutes ago, I asked you: “What is your favorite thing to say?” You answered: “THANK YOU.”
First of all, this is not true; currently your favorite thing to say, much to my chagrin and the possible enjoyment and also possible mortification of your preschool teachers (SPOILER ALERT), is: “SLURP URANUS!” Why? Well, part one: You’ve had a fixation with the planet Uranus for several months now (as well as all of the other planets, with Jupiter still running a close second; you have a thing for gas giants because they remind you of me). Part two: I checked out this book for you at the library the other week that is one of these twee Baby Lit books (you already own Frankenstein, Sherlock Holmes, Huck Finn and Sense and Sensibility thanks to your twee literary grandparents), and it’s a twee baby version of The Odyssey. You are obsessed with it (awesome!), but your favorite page is the page for Charybdis, which also contains the helpful onomatopoetic “SLUUUUUUUUUUURP,” which I guess is the phonetic of the whirlpool or whatever? I’m not a Classicist, those fuckers are insufferable (except my friend Debra, who rocks). Anyway, you have been enraptured with the word SLUUUURP, and ask us to say it over and over again. Your new way of doing this is to command: “TELL me!” followed, if we don’t comply, by “MAMA say it!” and then, finally, “MAMA say the WORDS!” Anyway, the only thing you enjoy more than your favorite words is putting those words together. Hence, the greater part of the City of Saint Louis currently wondering why a 2.5-year-old knows about anilingus. SHE DOESN’T, EVERYONE.
However. THANK YOU is actually pretty appropriate for what’s going on in our lives right now. Not only because you have recently (thanks in large part to your politeness-concerned babysitter, Regan) started thanking people all the time, but also because right now I am so very grateful, for everything that you have worked so very hard to accomplish in just one short month.
The first thing you have done — and this is the greatest feat of your little life — is that you have taken to preschool LIKE A FUCKING CHAMP. Here you are on your very first day, after many months on our part of talking it up (and up and up).
Sidenote: I can’t BELIEVE it was cool enough that day to put you in a long-sleeved dress AND SWEATER. Soon after you began school, St. Louis got a sweltering heatwave that has only recently abated (and the respite is short–OCTOBER will be coming in with high-80s temperatures because all deities hate me, and also global climate fucking change, which is a thing, no matter what your piece of shit president says).
Anyway, for the first week or so of preschool, you charged into that room like a fucking CHAMP, barely even looking back at me, and when you did it was often with pity, like, What’s this broad still doing here? Quit cramping my steez, lady. Some days have gone better than others, but no days have been hard enough that the school has called me to get you (which I feared would happen about an hour in to your first days), and some days you have just simply dominated the whole fucking time. This morning you were not too happy to be dropped off; you cried a little bit, and asked to nurse (which you know you can’t do away from home; it’s your general distress cry) — but then you processed your emotions like a LITTLE FUCKING BOSS, marched up to me, planted a smooch on my face and then took off to read the colors book with your little friends.
Every day they bring your class of 2 and 3-year-olds out in a little procession to be picked up, and it is the single cutest thing in existence. And every day that you go to preschool by yourself, and you get through it (even when you’re sad sometimes), I am prouder than I have ever been of anyone or anything in my entire life.
It’s funny; they often say you don’t know love until you have a child (which really pisses a lot of people off), and while the love you have for your child is certainly different (or can be) than the love you have for others, I would venture to say that the real emotion you don’t truly know until you have a child (if you do! you don’t have to! nobody has to!) is pride.
Honey, I am so proud of you, and I am so profoundly grateful to you for how hard you are working to gain independence and flourish.
On your first day, only one person cried, and that person was me.
I usually bike you to school in the CORT, and then at day’s end (which is 11:45 a.m.) you are starving and gobble down your lunch before we ride home. In other news, I am finally looking (and feeling) like a person who exercises ever, and this is a good thing.
The other major change around here — the second-biggest accomplishment of your young life — is that we have finally, finally, FINALLY, FINALLY, FINALLY, FINALLY, FINALLY, FINALLY, FINALLY, FINALLY, FINALLY, FINALLY, FINALLY, FINALLY, FINALLY, FINALLY, FINALLY, FINALLY, FINALLY, FINALLY, FINALLY, FINALLY, FINALLY, FINALLY, FINALLY, FINALLY, FINALLY, FINALLY, FINALLY, FINALLY, FINALLY, FINALLY, FINALLY, FINALLY accomplished a semblance of a “normal” sleep schedule in our house.
For us, the biggest impossibility to imagine with preschool was that you’d tolerate it at all — but the second-biggest was that you’d wake up for it.
AND THEN your dad had the single greatest idea of his life. He said, “I think that the artificial light is affecting her melatonin, and when it gets dark, we shouldn’t turn on lights in here.” Since you had heretofore been known to collapse into sobs and the directive to MAKE IT COOLER (ie “lighter”) every time it got dark, I was…erm, we’ll say resistant at first. We’ll say I had a total shit-fit. We’ll say tears were shed. Mine.
Then we tried it, and on the first night you went to sleep before midnight.
Then on the second night you went to sleep before 11:30.
Then before 11.
Now, even on days you take a nap (which we are careful not to extend beyond 4:30 no matter how grumpy you get when we wake you up, which is AN INCREDIBLE FEAT ON MY PART because it means that I INTENTIONALLY disrupt your rest, which means I intentionally disrupt literally THE ONLY REST I EVER GET), you regularly conk out before 10.
You also now wake up at 7 when you sleep in…and 5:30 when you don’t. I am now living the life of a “normal” parent of a “normal” toddler/preschooler, and it is weird as fuck. And thank you, my sweetheart. Thank you.
Thank you for cracking me up by siding with the villains in the Cat in the Hat. Even though you can read that book backwards in your sleep, you require us to do it (MAMA do it! MAMA read the words!), and when we get to the page about the “big mess” you dissolve into giggles and run around the house, usually toppling whatever you can get your little mitts on. When we ask you what you’re doing — or, more often, you ask us what you’re doing — the answer is a deliberate opposite: “Up to GOOD tricks!” Even though you know you’re really “up to BAD tricks,” which you find hilarious. I’m pretty sure in that book you’re supposed to side with the nameless narrator boy — whose namelessness you remarked on the other day, a little literary theorist in the making, alas — but in our house, you’re definitely Thing 1 and Thing 2. “Is Fluffy up to GOOD?” you’ll ask, when you are very much up to no good.
Speaking of which, another thing you command “Mama TELL ME” is Larry David’s catch phrase from Curb Your Enthusiasm, which, like Will & Grace, incomprehensibly returns to television in a few days (I watched the re-boot of W&G and it was L.A.M.E. and thus late-90s Schuman had terrible taste in comedy). Anyway, you think it’s HILARIOUS to go pretty, pretty, pret-ty-, pret-ty, pret-tyyyyyyyyy good, and I can’t say I disapprove.
(HBO sent me this swag box of CYE-related stuff and I damn near cried. The box PLAYED THE THEME SONG when you opened it. It was nuts.)
Thank you for allowing me to take you to the Science Center every Tuesday morning (now we can do morning shit!), and letting me watch you as you learn and explore, and eat disgusting pizza which you inexplicably prefer to all other good food (including much better pizza).
I am still very far from having figured this business out. There are days I cry. There are days I lose it at your father. There are days you watch more YouTube than you should. But we worked really hard to get you in a place where you could go to preschool. Even as we worked, even as we pretended not to, we doubted you.
And you showed us.
(And please, please, please don’t take this missive as your cue to cross over into some terrifying nightmare phase of God-Knows-What, which is what you always do the second after I post an update about how Everything Is Awesome. Everything is still FUBAR, it’s just FUBAR in a way I like. Two grown-ass people have to hang out in the dark every night so that you will go to sleep. It’s still a thing around here. DO NOT FEEL THE NEED TO RETURN MY LIFE TO UNENDING CHAOS. Thank you.)
We’re all, for just this tiny second, pretty, pretty, pret-ty good.