31 Months: The Ballad of Slippy the Cat

Pre-Update-Update: Friends, please consider donating to the following relief organizations that help those affected by Hurricane/Tropical Storm/Fucking Flood Harvey:

The Texas Diaper Bank
The Greater Houston Community Foundation
Portlight Inclusive Disaster Strategies

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My very large and tyrannically in-charge 2.5 + 1-month-old:

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This is the last letter I will write you before you become a preschooler in one short week. It is also may well be the last letter I write you before you become a preschool dropout in one week and one day. I know the teachers say to be RELENTLESSLY POSITIVE about preschool at ALL TIMES because you PICK UP ON EVEN SUBTLE CUES (and also you can read and could possibly read this if I let you), but fuck it, man: Your father and I are fairly whatever the opposite of confident is about the $900 in nonrefundable deposits and tuition we put down for a very nice (and very affordable, despite the $900) establishment back in May. “Oh, she’ll LOVE IT,” we said, because apparently we’ve never met you before. You, who when you catch sight of another kid give us a look that says STRANGE LIFEFORM IN MY WAY, WHUT. You, who react to being told what to do and when to do it by…well, definitely not doing it. You, who will allow yourself to be in the company of only about three select non-mother humans for more than 55 seconds before dissolving into the kind of apoplectic rage that destroys people. “Don’t worry,” says the director of the place. “I’ve been doing this for 29 years, and I’ve never had a child who didn’t adjust.” Well, prepare to break the streak. OR PERHAPS you might surprise us all! WHO KNOWS? I’m keeping an open mind.

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Let’s do this month’s update like a LISTSICLE so that I can pretend to be a MILLENNIAL even though I’m about to turn FORTY-ONE. (Remember when I turned 37 and I was like oooh I’m to sexy for academia? I think the only person to age more in four years than me is President Obama.)

Darnedest Thing You Have Said This Month: IT’S SNOWFLAKES (re: dust motes catching light). Yes, I realize this probably means I should vacuum more. Is this a hint, kid?

Most Curious Personality Trait: Despite having two rather neurotic parents, you are still a Walking Entropy Generator. You don’t put puzzles together; you demolish them. You build block towers to smash them. You see markers, or paints, or stamps, and your first (and often only) impulse is to tat yourself half to death with them. God help you if you get a single drop of anything liquid on your shirt (MORE SHIRT!!! CHANGE THE SHIRT!!!! DRY SHIRT!!! NEW SHIRT!!!!!!!), but if you could, you’d be covered in art supplies and teeny-tiny Legos head to toe for time immemorial.

Only Thing You Will Currently Eat: Parmesan cheese.

Current Favorite Time To Wake Up: 10:30 a.m.

Time Preschool Begins: 9 a.m. (“Please be prompt!”)

Present Obsession: The solar system and planets. Everyone you know has a planet associated with them. PAPA’S PLANET IS JUPITER BECAUSE IT IS THE HUGEST. MAMA’S PLANET IS SATURN BECAUSE IT IS THE BIGGEST. Your planet is, of course, PLUTO, even though as you are first to point out, it’s not a planet, but rather a BITTY BITTY SQUIRT DWARF PLANET. When I eat my pasta, I take a JUPITER BITE. When you eat scrapings of parmesan cheese off my pasta, they are PLUTO BITES. When you decide you want to flop down onto your butt and then roll onto your back, you do so whilst proclaiming I’M TOO BIG! I’M LIKE VENUS! And, of course, your favorite planet continues to be, and likely will remain in perpetuity, URANUS!!!!!!!! which you pronounce the old (i.e. “real”) and “obscene” way, your-ANUS, rather than the new (i.e. “dumb”) and slightly less obscene way (URINE-us). You love Uranus because it’s blue, because it’s sideways, because it’s far and big, and, as anuses tend to be, because it’s mostly made out of gas. You will read books and watch videos and listen to songs about the planets all day. The other day you asked WHAT COLOR IS IO? and since I am not down with Jupiter’s moons, I asked the Astronomers of Twitter, and they nicely told you that Io is yellow with orange and brown parts. This is pretty much the best thing that has ever happened, and if anyone, anywhere, has anything to say about your interest in astronomy that is anything other than “Wow, neat,” I will personally rip their fucking faces off.

Average Number of Naps per Day: 0.7

Favorite Musical Instrument: the triangle

Thing You Currently Dislike the Most: the dark. Your way of demanding the light be turned on is to say MAKE IT COOLER!!!! MAKE IT COOLER! This chorus usually begins around sunset, and continues for all of eternity. We’re currently embarking on an experiment where we DON’T Make It Cooler in an attempt to get you to go to bed earlier. It worked for exactly one night (last night), so I fully expect it never to work again, and you to be on an 11:45 wake-up schedule for the start of preschool, which incidentally ends at 11:45.

Most Important Person In Your Life: Or, rather, most important cat.  Sometime about a month ago, you decided that your mangy little white stuffed kitten, Slippy (already Slippy the Second, I’ll have you know; Slippy the Third is lying in wait in this house), had to go everywhere with you. Woe unto anyone and anything who attempts to wrest that filthy little furball from your mitts at any time of the day or night. We are lucky if we can pry him from you in your sleep for the time it takes to run a wash cycle; we have to time it perfectly because if you wake up and Slippy is not vorhanden, as Heidegger would say, woe unto the entire Western Hemisphere. I don’t know whose spirit resides in that raggedy-ass little bacteria condo, but we are one hundred percent in the Age of Slippy.

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And now, my darling, so that you don’t stay up until 1 a.m. and then sleep until 11 tomorrow, I must cut this missive short and wake you up. You fell asleep in your stroller, just like in the picture above, clutching Slippy for dear life.  (Slippy’s planet, by the way, is Venus. Obviously.)

All my love,

Mama

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Two and a Half: MARRIED TO EVERYSING

Dear Offspring, you are two and a half years old today.

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At the Lane County Fair, about to take your first ever ride. Two minutes later you were a bona fide ride junkie. FIND MORE RIDES!!! FIND MORE RIDES!!! We went on three roller coasters and two motion-sickness spectaculars, and it cost me $50.

Today began suspiciously similar to the day you turned one and a half, the digital commemoration of which I read this morning, whilst you once again pinned me down and drained my life force as your first act of the day (META!). Unlike last year, however, now I have begun to envision the day when you don’t begin every morning with an aggressive and oft-aggrieved nursing session. I mean, you’re two and a half. Almost all of your peers left nursing behind long ago. Their parents all do a good job of pretending that whatever we do is cool, like they’re evolved feminist adults who respect other people’s breastfeeding choices, but I can tell that they’re all secretly (or not-so-secretly) wondering why we haven’t given this particular habit the boot as of yet. The answer is pretty simple. Nursing is still the most important thing in your life (tied as it is for #1 with the other important things in your life, which are ducks, costume jewelry, trying to climb the television, and running through the SPRINK-KEE-LER with glee until you realize YOUR HAIR IS WET! YOUR HAIR IS WET! and react accordingly).

If I’d wanted to wean you, I guess I should have done so two years ago, before you were old enough to know what was going on. In this imaginary version of events, you would have accepted a bottle (ha), and then had the bottle swapped out for the breast in increasing increments like “normal” people do it (ha), and since you never did something as UNACCEPTABLE and DISORDERED as nurse to sleep, and instead were put in your crib (HA HA) “drowsy but awake” (HA HA HA HA HA) from birth, this would have worked out great.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. As anyone who has ever met you can attest, you have the most intense (really, bordering on pathological) attachment to nursing in the known universe, and have since you were an hour old, really since before then; when I was too hopped up from getting you hacked out of my body with a knife for the first forty-five minutes of your life to nurse you properly, you were PISSED. AT. ME.

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You still nurse to sleep to this day, at night and when you deign to nap, which has become less and less frequent, either because you’re growing out of napping or because our trip to the west coast for the summer threw you into such disarray that you decided to exact revenge. (Maybe you’re still pissed about me “waiting” 45 minutes to nurse you after you were born and you’re playing the long game.)

So that is how I ended up with a two-and-a-half year old who yesterday thrust a copy of her grandparents’ pinko magazine of choice into my face and proclaimed LET’S READ THE NATION! (you then got tripped up on the headline DEMOCRACY BESIEGED, but you gave it the college try), but who also still nurses and still regards the toilet with utmost suspicion. We’ll get there eventually.

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At the Oregon Country Fair (the County Fair’s polar opposite), where a breastfeeding two-year-old would be the least-weird thing anyone saw all day. High point: The guy named “Chad” whose set on the “Youth Stage” involved a song that we hoped was about Play-Doh but was actually about how he’s NOT JUST A SHADOW IN A CAVE!!! NOT JUST A SHADOW IN A CAVE!!!

Our breakthrough this month was that we had a long talk a few weeks ago about how Big Girls Don’t Nurse In the Restaurant (with “The Restaurant” standing in for all establishments that are not home). Upon your successful completion of a teat-free meal at the Glenwood, I strolled you over to the University of Oregon bookstore and bought you a “prize:” a massive oversized rubber ducky (quickly dubbed Squeaky) and a green-and-yellow pom-pom. These were the material-consumerist sealing of our sacred deal, our first ever conscious compromise: You now Only Nurse At Home. (To commemorate the august occasion, I got myself a prize too: two new brassieres of the distinctly non-nursing variety. Hallelujah!)

Speaking of which, here’s something you will definitely want to read about someday: YOUR MOM’S MONTHLY TIME. The only thing worse than having debilitating cramps and other sundry painful period symptoms is having to deal with that shit while chasing after a fucking toddler, so for the past two and a half years the Gods of Lady Curses had seen fit not to bless me with that particular blessed blessing since your birth. (Another excellent side effect of way-old super-aggressive nursing.) Until, for reasons I still don’t quite comprehend, this past month, whereupon I was returned to True Womanhood by way of–wait for it–debilitating pain and fatigue. Why am I telling you this? Why is this relevant? OH IT IS. Here’s why: Because until two weeks ago, you hadn’t had the occasion to see a tampon up close (or at all), and now you are fascinated by them. What’s more, for reasons neither your father nor I understand, you have made up a name for them: CLOODLES. (This spelling was phonetic. I asked: “How you spell ‘cloodles’?” and you told me DAT’S TOO HARD!) Anyway, you like to take the Cloodles and line them up, and then “draw” with them on the wall. Since they are wrapped up in plastic and don’t actually mark the wall, this is actually an excellent development.

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At the Eugene Saturday Market. Not pictured: Cloodles.

And now, speaking of excellent development (that does not have to do with my boobs or vajayjay), this last month has brought a preponderance of INTERESTING SINGS, as you call them. You’ve figured out that Legos are fun, and can spend up to an hour (AN HOUR!!!!!!) fully engrossed, building STUFF AND SINGS with them. Until about a week ago, your repertoire consisted of A VERY TALL TOWER, but now you have branched out into all sorts of stuff, including houses and beds for your various animals. You have started asking A LOT of questions about what is going on around you, some of which you know the answers to (WHAT EVERYBODY TAKING? A BITE!!!!), and some of which you don’t (WHAT SHE DOING? WHAT THEY DOING? WHAT SHE EATING? WHAT HE PLAYING AT? WHAT ‘FRUIT SALAD’ MEAN? WHAT ‘FRUIT’ MEAN?). You are still mostly uninterested in playing with other kids, but make a lot of remarks about them once they’re gone (WE SAW ASHER! WE SAW COUSIN ASHER! ASHER IS A BABY!).


The other day you got obsessed with playing with my wedding rings, and a discussion of who’s married to what ensued. In case anyone was wondering, I’m married to TOYS, your father is married to SINGS, and you, of course, are married to EVERYSING. You still get pretty irate when you don’t get what you want, but your father and I are getting much better at respecting your feelings whilst still sticking to the extremely few guns we have (NOT LITERAL GUNS). Someday when you’re an adult, and you buy and fill your own kiddie pool, you can go in that kiddie pool at 11:30 at night to your heart’s content, young lady, but while you’re under our roof (er…my parents’ roof, actually), you’ll…well, you get my drift.

Our days here in Eugene are good.

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You spend many mornings down exploring the Willamette River with YOUR FAZZER, or being spirited around town with your grandma to adventures at the Raptor Center (giant birds, not dinosaurs) and the Science Factory.


We go swimming at the YMCA, or we fill the aforementioned kiddie pool in the backyard and you whoop it up back there, tearing around the yard (alas, destroying your grandmother’s plants–we’ll pay to replace them, Mom), often bare-assed, just bursting with the particular joy that can only come from an Oregon summer well-lived. You are bigger, wiser, funnier, kinder, more daring and more pensive by the day. You are barreling toward three. You are a thirty-five-pound package of pure unadulterated human joy, exhausting as ever, impossible to quantify and contain, but triumphant.

“I am definitely up to something good.”


Always,

Your Muzzer

Two Years, Three Months: WORK!!!!!!

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

2 years, 1 month: It’s People

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.)

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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.)

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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.

XO,

Mama

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