Nineteen Months Old: Paydat

Dear Miriam,

I wonder if when we look back, we'll think of this as the month when you began to confound us again. Not since you were a newborn have you presented so much surprise and confusion. You want up, except you want down, you want acqua (oh, yes, you're quite the international), but then you don't. You have found your scream and you use it liberally. And you are talking so far ahead of us that we can't possibly keep up. Paydat? We have no idea, but you say it a lot, especially about toys. We thought perhaps it was a conjunction of Play with this, but you say those words, too, so really, we have no idea.

You can also tell us how old you are, or were, until a day or two ago. Dragging you around from daycare to daycare, you must have heard me say it a bajillion times. So I shouldn't have been surprised when you beat me to the punch with Teacher Paula: 18 months... old, you said, with that delicious pause mid-way through. And you've been saying it since, although now we're trying to bend your ahead around the concept of nineteen months.

I think the day care search went well, but we'll know better next month. Each day I would tell you that we were going to play with kids and who we were going to meet. During the trip to each spot, you would sit in your seat and recite Meet X, play with kids. Then we'd go in, you would investigate with healthy curiousity for about 15 minutes, and without fail you'd spend the rest of the visit on my hip, holding tighter than a koala. But as we left, you would say Thank you and Bye-bye X and if a place made an impression, you might say Meet X again the next day.

We looked at several places, from co-ops to chi chi pre-preschools, and finally arrived at a Spanish immersion in-home care provider whose warmth felt like a snuggly blanket after so many Eh reactions. A week after we visited the place, I found myself telling people I'd decided, before I'd made my de rigeur pro/con table, while Daddy was still away in India. So it seemed the decision was made, I was trusting my gut. Yet I've spent the last three mornings awake and obsessing from 5 AM. MZ, I know this will be good for you, two days with kids in a small, free-form, play-focused environment with loving care providers. I know it's the perfect antidote to all the 1:1 adult attention you receive from your large and loving tribe. But don't ever think I made this decision lightly, it makes me cry to think of how much I will miss you, of the confusion you will experience as you grow used to this new place, of the moments I won't get with you at this delightful age.

Because while you are capricious in the extreme, you are also delightful in every way. You are exploring language and your physical capacity and the world around you. You are teaching yourself to run and jump and throw. You have opinions about everything from what to eat to what to wear to how you want to be held (This way you insist as you shift yourself in our arms) and you are beginning to assert yourself even with other children (you stared a boundary-pressing 3-year old down the other day, without even glancing at me for support, much to my delight).

You scream when you're excited or bored, a high-pitched girly scream that I often cannot resist repeating back to you. You speak full sentences with a curious Jersey accent then fall into jabber. You ask for help when you need it, at the top of stairs or when filling your own spoon with yogurt or soup becomes tiresomely slow. You holler Hey, Mommy from across the room and smile widely when I respond in kind. You're a veritable greeting committee on the sidewalk and people actually stop to chat with you more often than not.

I can't believe someone else is going to enjoy these days with you, and that their relative emotional distance is a feature and not a bug. While I'm excited to begin Work again, the work of raising you has become my dream job.


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