Someday you will learn how to drive – this fact terrifies me and I try not to think about it very often – and you will start driving to the same places over and over and over. Maybe you already notice that we drive to many of the same places repeatedly each week. To school (you call it “fool”), to Little Gym, to Dan’s Supermarket and to Em’s for breakfast on Sunday. I remember finally learning how to drive when I was young and just knowing where everything was in my city because I had been driving around to the same places with my parents for seventeen years. Maybe you will do the same, or maybe you will inherit your father’s sense of direction. In any case, when you finally learn how to drive, every once in awhile you will experience an unsettling experience that somehow you drove somewhere but you had no memory of actually driving. You will think, “wait, how the hell did I get to this light already? I was ten miles away from this light about two seconds ago.” This is what this last month has felt like. Wait, how the hell did we get here already because everything is moving at light speed.
Your vocabulary has taken off in the last month and it always astonishes me how quickly you transition into something new. For months you were mumbling words and I couldn’t understand 75% of what you said. Now you are running through the house yelling, “Mommmmmyyyyyy!” when you are looking for me. You charge into the bedroom in the morning before school and yell at your father, “Wake up!” You will go up to one of us, take our hand and say, “Follow me.” Sometime you say, “Follow you,” because you get you and me mixed up. Every once in awhile you sing to yourself – Happy Birthday dear Nuuuke being a favorite. I once overheard you singing Swing Low Sweet Chariot to yourself and nearly cried it was so sweet. I started singing you that song when you were an infant but you usually veto it at bedtime when I try to sing it. You have very fixed ideas about what music to listen to in the car. These days it is the “Jingle Song” because somehow you heard Jingle Bells. I blame school for this since it has to be one of my most hated Christmas carols. I said to my sister the other day that I never imagined driving around with a toddler would be like operating an all-request radio show but with a rotation of about five songs.
You keep growing up before our eyes, not just in height and weight (at your two year check up, your head circumference clocked as ginormous in the 85th percentile) but in your perception of the world around you. We picked out your Halloween costume (a monkey) weeks and weeks before the big date and you spent the month telling people, only when asked, that you were going to be a “monkey suit” for Halloween. But at no time did you volunteer this information to anyone nor did you talk about the upcoming event. We carved pumpkins and went to Red Butte Gardens after dark where you ran around in a daze of excitement about being in the Gardens after dark. But still I didn’t think you were going to “get” Halloween. Imagine my surprise when I put you in your suit Halloween night and took you around to some neighbors. It’s amazing how quickly you “got” it once neighbors started putting candy into your little pumpkin bucket. And once we got home and the doorbell started ringing, you sprinted to the door to give out candy like you had been doing it your whole life. Every time the doorbell rang, you would freeze, squeal and run to the door yelling, “who is it? who is it?” My favorite part of Halloween has always been staying at home to hand out candy so I was thrilled you liked it so much too.
I know I spend a lot of time here chronicling my difficulties with you. I am beginning to think that perhaps I will never be truly at ease as a parent. I have certainly learned a lot in the last two years and have learned, with varying degrees of success, what works with you and what doesn’t. The sticker reward chart for not whining and crying when getting dressed has been a hit. A parent-toddler dance class where you were expected to sit for minutes at a time was, unfortunately, not a hit. But two years in and I still feel a stab of resentment when you decide that 6.30 is a perfectly acceptable time to get up in the morning. I know, I should just get over it. You are two and you have big plans every day that involve playing with your trains, watching Thomas, reading train books and talking about trains. You are at the funny age where you know the rules and state them to me clearly, “No picking nose!” while simultaneously picking your nose. It’s hard for you to hold it together and I appreciate it when you do so perhaps I need to remember to cut you some slack more often. It isn’t easy being a parent but it certainly isn’t easy being you either.
I was supposed to finish this post a few days ago but now tomorrow is Thanksgiving so I’ll end by saying thank you. Thank you for holding my hand in the parking lot and then forgetting and holding my hand just a little bit longer. Thank you for asking for a “big snack” the other day and making me laugh. Thank you for taking real delight in your friends. Thank you for loving the snow and building a snowman with me. Thank you for listening to my goodnight stories every night and filling in the blanks – “Once upon a time there was a little boy named: (Nuke) and he loved: (birfday parties.) Thank you for finally learning how to blow your nose. Thank you for giving me a reason to at last use the waffle iron your dad and I got for our wedding that makes waffles in the shape of lions and elephants. Thank you for not crying at all (for the first time ever) at the doctor’s office last week and then being the perfect lunch companion afterwards. Thank you for throwing your head back and laughing hysterically after your bath the other night as I twirled you to the music playing and your dad looked on smiling and the fire crackled in the fireplace and I thought to myself, “my life is perfect right now.”