Twenty-eight Months: She's The Decider

Dear Miriam,

Your dictatorial leanings are expanding these days, although you wear velvet gloves for the most part. Would you like to clean my nose? is the latest subtle direction, due to your current cold. But the big news is you deciding to wear panties and use the toilet.

Back in February, Mimi encouraged me to buy panties that you would want to wear, and I dutifuly ordered some super-soft floral-patterned numbers from Hana Andersson. They left you fairly unmoved, and you insisted on diapers. So when I fished a pair of $2 panda-printed panties out of a sale bin at Gymboree, I was thinking that they'd be useful "someday." You seized on them the moment you saw them. We had a talk about how you could wear them when you were ready to use the toilet all the time, and when you went a few days without an accident. Lo and behold, the training pants came back out of the drawer, and they're all you'll wear right now. We visit the panda panties occasionally, and it's been two weeks since you've had a full-on accident. You don't always catch yourself in time, but you've learned to hold on till we get to the toilet. And you'll even sit on an adult seat, sometimes preferring it to your folding portable seat. You're doing great! And it's suddenly way less stressful than it used to be.

So you're The Decider. You fly through decisions with jet-like speed. You will say Strawberries, Strawberries, Strawberries over and over again until we bring them to you, only to burst into frustrated tears, shrieking No Strawberries! Clearly half the disorders in the DSM originate at the toddler stage of development, and you are fully capable of demonstrating several per hour. But your unhappiness in these moments is so palpable, I ache for you even while I'm counting to ten to try to keep from running screaming from the room.

You're also continuing to demonstrate a physicality that surprises us. You will climb anything (except your crib, so far...), you love being upside down, tossed and flipped. You've added the occasional backflip to the nightly Want to jump on you sessions, you continue to discover new climbs at the playground, and you love to slide down the poles when your dad is there to help.

Yet there are things you absolutely refuse to do. You will not wear goggles at swim class. You wear flippers and kick solo in a floaty tube, but goggles are out. You will never go down a slide first, waiting till another playmate takes the first plunge. And you are totally disinterested in being a Big Girl. If any of us try this compliment, you're quick to tell us that you're still a baby, and you love to crawl into our arms for a cuddle.

Yet you're experimenting with calling us Mom and Dad, something I'm completely unready for. It sounds so strange coming from you, making the times you call my My Mommy (as in, Uppy up, my Mommy) all the more sweet.

And you've discovered your baby doll. Where you used to carry her by her neck, mostly, now you frequently put her to bed before retiring yourself, and want to go see her first thing in the morning. You feed her, change her clothes, rock and shhh her with a technique straight out of Happiest Baby on the Block, and put her in your toy shopping cart, announcing Okay, see you, I'm going to the grocery store.

Many of your sentences require a complex diagram these days. When Mana and Papa told you they would be gone when you awoke from your nap, you told them You have to play with me one more time before you leave. And you still swear in context, exclaiming Oh shit when you hear something drop. On the way home from swim class one day, you were trying to tell me about the balloons on the cars at the used car lot while I negotiated a tricky bit of driving. Perceiving you were being ignored, you exclaimed, I want balloons on our fucking car. We spent the next ten miles adding more acceptable modifiers to car: blue car, big car, Mommy's car, MZ's car, etc. You were satisfied with the game, returning me as it did to my position of playmate.

And the singing! You continue to string songs together in fabulous medleys, including snippets of the Shabbat blessings. It's not at all unusual to hear you sing Borei pri hagafen I'm a little teapot short and stout or A - B - C... next time won't you sing with me l'hadlik ner shel Shabbat.

All in all, it's been a hilarious, maddening, and very sweet month. We're so proud of your growing independance, even as we cherish these last moments of babyness.

All my love,
Your Mommy

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Hangin' Around

LG and MZ sitting in a tree...


Adventure Travel

Whenever I really feel like smiling, I check in to Where the Hell is Matt and watch the dance video again. I love that thing, from the music that echoes MZ's worldbeat dance list to the fabulous array of places he's been.

I love travel and I miss travel. But nothing has prepared me for parenting like travel. Much like travel, parenting is a crapshoot, a series of guessing games that you never get to stop playing. And like travel, it's damned uncomfortable at times, whether because your daughter just pushed a spoon down your throat to see what would happen, or because your heart is breaking as you listen to her sob with a fever, or a fall, or the frustration of being on earth, or because you really have no freakin' idea how to respond to the latest developmental or socialization mystery.

I also love that video because he's always dancing. Despite the inevitable pain and discomfort he's endured -- come on, you think he never met a bedbug? an overstuffed bus on a bumpy unpaved road? the runs? -- he's dancing. He's smiling and he's dancing, because what is greater than this sense of personal discovery that feels like salvation? Turns out, being a parent, that's what.

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Tenacious MZ

MZ and I have taken a lot of classes together over the last 1.5 years. We didn't do classes pre-6 mos because we did coffee dates and museums and a moms group that called itself a playgroup then, mostly for me. But as soon as she was allowed in a pool, we signed up for swimming, adding music and art and the fabulous free CCSF child observation classes along the way.

She seems to have enjoyed the full array, and we've all enjoyed watching her master new skills or just plain have fun. But nothing matches our current My Gym experience. MZ goes in there every week and devises some sort of circuit training course for herself, which she does over and over again, until she's doing it all by herself, not reaching for my hand. Until she's mastered it.

This is amazing for a kid who walked at 17 mos. and has seemed pretty significantly non-physical through most of her life. At this place, she runs, jumps, climbs, crawls, skootches and rolls her way through. Whenever I decide there's some area of the room she just doesn't care for, that's where she spends her time. After having avoided clusters of toddlers for the eight weeks, last week she charged under the parachute to grab a puppet. This week she approached the trampoline, backed off when three girls beat her to it, then tried it out for real when she could get it alone, she jumped on her feet, then dropped to her knees and finally did a full-on drop to the bum, where she dissolved into giggles and did it all again. The next time, when there were kids there already, she jumped on, although she stuck close to the edge, and when she decided to roll down an adjoining ramp and a girl followed her lead, she was clearly delighted.

But the part I don't want to forget is this week's circuit, where she scaled a (short) wall, balanced across a foam pipe she's been avoiding for weeks, crept like a tightrope walker along the edge of a ball pit, charged up a slide, then skootched down and did it all over again... and again... and again. Tenacious MZ indeed.