Another month. Another few milestones. Another few moments of soul aching loveliness. Another few reasons to burrow my head in the pillow and scream in frustration.
You have unfortunately discovered the word no and consequently you say no to everything; even things you actually like. Even when your dad and I nod our heads and enthusiastically say, “Yes!” you shake your head right back and say, “No!” But it’s more like, “Ney,” with a twist of whine thrown in for good measure. I grit my teeth and try to be zen about the fact I have years of this in front of me although the no’s are not nearly as frustrating as the collapse to the ground move you make when you don’t want to go somewhere. I have watched this maneuver for years in other kids and dreaded its appearance because there is nothing more fun than gathering up a heavy writhing mass of toddler who doesn’t want to go somewhere.
The weather around here has been unseasonably, unsettling, warm. The tulips have been working their way out of the ground for weeks. I would love nothing more than to wake up to find a foot or two of snow on the ground but you are still in love with the driveway and all of the delights it offers so I’ve made an uneasy peace with forty degree weather in February. I bought a kid’s snow shovel for the non existent snow and for a few weeks you would carry this shovel everywhere. A friend joked that while I fretted you didn’t have a special blanket or stuffed animal you had instead bonded with a plastic snow shovel.
The shovel also accompanied us on walks around the neighborhood. This phrase, “walks around the neighborhood” sounds much more impressive than the reality. Your idea of a walk is to stop every three steps to examine a blade of grass, pick up a stick, pat the fire hydrant or shove a rock in your mouth. Our walks are accompanied by a relentless barrage of “et’s dat?” “et’s dat?” “et’s dat?” and I describe telephone wires, houses, driveways and fences to you. It is tiring but I feel so guilty if I don’t tell you for the hundredth time that that object you are so curious about is a tree and that a tree grows branches. But every once and while you put your hand in mine and we stroll down the street together and those are moments that you imagine all of parenthood will be like. As a parent I know now that 98% of parenting is nothing like you expected but that 2% makes all those no’s and tirades over nothing worth it. To feel your hand gripping mine as we walk down the sidewalk is even more endearing than those first times you squeezed my finger when you were an infant.
You are really into animal sounds now having added cow, horse (hey!) monkey, and sheep (always a whispered baa) to your list of sounds. This past week after a trip to the zoo you also learned elephant (a loud screech) and lion/tiger/bear/any loud animal (a near silent roar.) You love to ride your rocking horse and slap your stomach for giddyup. You also rub your belly instead of your chest for “please,” which is hilarious and incredibly endearing. You figured out that I let you do some things if you ask nicely so you use it for everything – getting me to open a door, asking me to let you out of the supermarket shopping cart and reading you another book. When I finish reading the book you immediately make the sign for more. This just about kills me seeing you carefully touching your fingers together making a sign I started signing to you when you were about six months old. I honestly never thought you were ever going to get it.
For as much as you are always on the go, you love to lounge. We got a kid’s chair for you to sit in when you watch Sesame Street and I think you love having a chair of your own. As bedtime approaches you start throwing yourself on blankets and pillows and against my shoulder sighing and smiling and pretending to sleep but as soon as we ask you if you are going to sleep on the floor you pop right up ready to read another book or throw another little person down into your Fisher Price castle dungeon. Your dad thinks it is funny that there is no right of due process in Fisher Price land.
All of these seem like large accomplishments but the largest and the one that came with the most drama was giving up your bottle. OK, I have to admit that you still get a bottle at 5.00 in the morning, which is the only way you sleep past 6.30. But you gave up your pacifier over a year ago and you haven’t, as I mentioned above, really bonded with anything like a blanket or animal (despite my best efforts to make you love your lion) and unless you were way down the tantrum path there was nothing that a bottle couldn’t make better. But you are getting ready to move into the Tater Tot room at school and apparently you cannot have a bottle there so we embarked on this journey, which took weeks and weeks. And weeks. And a lot of deep breaths. And wine.
My first attempts to get you to drink out of the tilty cup were enough to make me okay with you moving off to college with a bottle clamped firmly in your teeth because you lay on the floor and screamed for 20 minutes straight. Props for endurance. But then I started to notice you would not put up a fight of any kind if I simply handed you the cup while you were watching Sesame Street. Yes, I am probably contributing towards your obesity and sheer laziness when you are 15 but it worked. There are plenty of times when I put the cup on the floor and you literally spin around so you sit with your back to it and then every time you sneak a peek to see if it is still there you let out a howl of protest but I just ignore you and walk into the other room. And then I hear you pick up the cup and slurp away. Victory.
So you don’t take a bottle anymore when you go to bed at night, which means that after we have gone through our ritual of a bath, pajamas, tooth brushing, book reading, kissing dad good night and waving goodbye to Buddy, we go into your room and turn off the light and turn on your ocean wave sounds and I put you on my lap to sit for a bit before I put you in your crib. Some nights you wiggle around and cry a little and it takes a long time before you find a comfortable position and then I rub your back for awhile and whisper, “I love love love you,” in your ear. Other nights you just lean against me and it’s the leaning nights I love best of all. I’m not going to lie to you. I thought I really loved you when you were born. And I thought that I loved you even more as you grew and started smiling at us and even started crawling towards us or saying Mama or Dada. But it is when you lean against me at night as you are falling asleep that I cannot quantify my love for you. My head swims and my heart swells and I marvel for the millionth time that you are this imperfect and yet, perfect, little person and you are ours.
p.s. You are famous. Sort of.