WHAT’S MAMA DOING? WHAT’S MAMA DOING? WHAT’S MAMA DOING? Well, my dear two-year-and-nine-month-old child, Mama is doing her goddamnedest to recollect the last month of your life, even though every month on (or near, ahem) the 28th, after four weeks of remarking “I’ve GOT to write that down for the monthly letter” after you do something ridiculous or classic and then definitely not writing it down (because who has time for that shit, I mean really), the 28th or thereabouts roll around and I BLANK THE FUCK OUT. Then I manage to dredge the primordial sludge that exists instead of my brain and think of a few things that you’ve been doing, and I feel like it’s been so woefully inadequate to capture your particular moment—but then one year (or two) later, when all relevant details of everything in my life have been flushed down the drain of my “mind” with the latest baking-soda-and-vinegar concoction you’ve discovered, I look back on what I wrote then and I am profoundly grateful that even a minute of what you used to be like is preserved. So that’s why I write these updates. I actually don’t care who reads them. They’re for you, someday (and possibly your prom date, if I don’t like him, her or them), but most of all they’re for me. This is the hardest time of my life I never want to forget.
In that spirit, I think I’ll do this monthly update in the form of dichotomies.
This month has brought many tremendous developments. With every wondrous advance there has been an equal and opposite regression; with every new terrifying thing you’ve figured out how to do, there’s been an equal and opposite luminosity.
SPEAKING IN OPPOSITES: Tremendous cognitive ability good; heightened propensity for mischief…not good (as you would say; we haven’t taught you “bad”).
This is only fitting, since you’ve recently decided your favorite way to communicate is in counterfactuals. There is nothing more you like doing than describing something by its exact and obvious opposite. On the multiple occasions you hurl entire puzzles, packages of straws, various and sundry foodstuffs or the entire contents of your (admittedly raggedy) crayon bin onto the floor, you shriek with delight and go: YOU MADE A LITTLE MESS! When one of us go, “Well, actually, that’s a BIG mess!” you insist: IT’S NOT A BIG MESS! IT’S A LITTLE MESS! When we remark that you’re getting big (and oh god, are you getting big), you respond: YOU’RE GETTING LITTLE! I wonder sometimes what people who don’t know you might think you mean, people who don’t know to assume that when your voice takes on a particular timbre, the “I’m fucking with you register,” everything you say should be assumed to be the direct inverse of what you mean, or what is true.
THAT EXTRA INCH: Great for your physical development, disastrous for the house
Two weeks or so ago, you took a break from your usual program of refusing to eat (you actually have nightmares where someone is making you eat something, and on more than one occasion I have had to wake you up as you sobbed in your sleep, NO HAVE TO! YOU DON’T WANT TO EAT IT!) and became temporarily insatiable. Literally two days later, as you pattered over to the other side of the kitchen island, I noticed that much more of your ridiculous little head was visible than before. We took out our extra scientific tape measure, and sure enough, you’d shot up an entire inch. (Maybe it’s all the spinach smoothies.)
And what a goddamned difference that inch makes. You can now reach everything you couldn’t before, which I found out by noticing about thirty seconds too late that you’d grabbed a GIANT kitchen knife out of the dish drain and managed to run halfway across the living room with it. Luckily I caught you in time, grabbed you around your little wrist and got the thing away from you (and also luckily, our knives are hella dull around here), but sheesh, kid. So we had to do yet another round of Fluffy-proofing this abode, including basically clearing out every drawer in the place, since you now regularly open them and root around until you find something to your liking. (We have thus far been unable to install any child-safety locks that stay in place; thanks a lot, yuppie lady with a grown kid who remodeled the kitchen before us!) Somewhat relatedly, part of this growth spurt has accompanied a heightened urge to climb shit, and these things coalesced in a renewed love affair with our kitchen stools. After weeks of chasing you as you clambered onto them (“Are you supposed to do this ALONE or WITH A GROWN-UP?” “You’re with a grown-up!” you’d cackle, meaning you were alone), we finally just had to sequester them away into your father’s closet (where all the forbidden objects in the household go to hide), and now we all eat standing up, because that’s preferable to having to chase you off those stools all the live-long day.
EVER-BURGEONING INDEPENDENCE: Fantastic for your sense of self, somewhat disheartening for those of us who don’t enjoy hearing YOU DON’T HAVE TO all day or waking up at 3 a.m. for a party
You continue to DOMINATE at preschool! Again, I am so sorry that I ever doubted you. (DAT’S OKAY! you’d say, and I thank you for your easy forgiveness and only hope you’ll feel the same way in about fifteen years.) You like to joke about baby stuff, and look at pictures of yourself as a baby—on our weekly jaunts to IKEA, you even like to climb into the crib and pretend to sleep there, which is especially interesting given that we have never owned a crib and you’ve literally never slept in one in your tiny little life.
You are way more willing to go out on the town with your father, your babysitter, and (when we’re lucky to have a visit, like today) your Babcia. Last time your grandmother was here we’d just moved to the loft and you were so spooked you wouldn’t leave; every time she tried to take you somewhere you lost it and I had to come and get you. Now your grandmother has essentially kidnapped you for the past three days, and you’ve barely even noticed. This is partly because you (CHOIR OF ANGELS!) are starting to wean yourself. They said you’d do it eventually and you are. It helps a lot that since you turned two, we only nurse at home (it also helps me avoid the stares of a VERY uptight city where almost nobody breastfeeds an infant, in public or otherwise, much less a ginormous almost-three-year-old). But right now you really only nurse in the morning and before you go to bed, with the occasional midday “nursing break” if you’re feeling sick or uneasy, or just want to make sure your mother knows who’s still fucking boss. The only downside of your growing autonomy is that you also want to make it VERY CLEAR that you do NOT HAVE TO DO most things. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiitttle bit over hearing the phrase YOU DON’T HAVE TO (your language for “I don’t have to”) seventy million times a day, but you know what? I’m glad you’re not a pleaser. I hope you never become a pleaser. I hope you continue to be the boss of every situation you enter, and that you get to have a life with minimal having-to-do inessential stuff. That said, when this particular turn of phrase is no longer so beloved, I can’t say I’ll mourn. Although who knows, maybe I will?
SELF-AMUSEMENT: You no longer require me or Daniel Tiger to entertain you in order to be entertained—but most of the games you’ve invented to entertain yourself result in property damage or near-certain death
BY FAR your favorite thing to do right now is pour liquids back and forth between cups and bowls. You would potentially do this all day long—so long as we allowed you to dump portions of that liquid onto the floor and then “clean it” (spread it around) with a towel for an indefinite amount of time. It also doesn’t help that your favorite liquid to do this with is rice milk. At this point, you can walk over to the refrigerator, open it, grab the rice milk carton out of it, walk said carton over to your little table, open it, and pour it. We usually (but not always) catch you before you start to pour. A fun variation of this game is the “spit and pour,” where you act like you’re drinking your milk or water, but instead you spit a mouthful into a bowl so as to have more pouring-material to work with.
This has also facilitated our first introduction into what I guess people call “discipline.” You are now old enough to know the difference between doing something by accident and on purpose (though because of your opposite-talk, you often say DAT WAS ON PURPOSE! when it was an accident, and vice versa), and also to know the difference between something that we want you to do and something we don’t. Ergo, when you spit or pour your gross water-milk concoction, for the first time in your little charmed life, you have “a consequence,” aka a “time in,” which is what progressive woo-woo parents such as myself do instead of a “time out.” A TIME IN IS A TIME! according to you; according to me, it is holding you on my lap and not letting you nurse or do anything else fun, and having a calm talk about Yips and Nopes and which ones we do and which ones we don’t. (DAT’S A YIP! is, of course, one of your favorite things to say whilst doing a Nope.) As it often does with little kids, usually the mere threat of “a consequence” or “being in big trouble” is enough to get you to SORT of cool it with the mischief, but also as it often does with little kids, the only thing we can really do is try to distract you with something slightly less messy and/or dangerous.
AGAIN WITH THE NO NAPS: This is sort of great because you go to bed earlier, but also WTF because you still manage to stay up until 9 most nights and then you also get up at 3 every night to have a deep conversation about Slippy the Cat that sometimes lasts for hours, because WTF?????????????????????
This one is kind of self-explanatory.
On a scale of 1 to 10, with a 1 being not having a kid at all and a 10 being the month I lost my shit at a guy in Whole Foods, I’d give this month about a 6 on the difficulty scale. Managing your new height, new interest in destruction and new extent of NOT HAVING TO has not been easy, but it has been fucking delightful nonetheless. Every month, you get older and your you-ness crystallizes further, and I could not be more in awe.
You dominate, you magnificent little fucker. Never stop being so irrepressibly, unapologetically full of life.