You turned 24-months-old this past week. In fact, the day on which I’m writing this is exactly two years after your due date. You blessed us a week earlier than we had expected, which, from a time management perspective means you take after me. If you had taken after your mom, you’d still be inside of her, picking at things on the interior wall of the womb, double and triple folding the umbilical cord and recalling how your due date was supposed to be Saturday, April 22, 2006 and the sky was a beautiful shade of baby blue with puffy clouds in the — no, I think it was supposed to be Friday, April 21. Or was it… no, it was supposed to rain that day and it didn’t because the grass wasn’t wet when we left that morning and it was such a deep green, almost blue — Yes, it was April 22nd…
This month you definitely turned into a two-year-old. Your favorite word is “NO!” You throw tantrums, you defy, you scream, you disobey, you throw yourself onto the ground and bury your head if you don’t get your way and you look at us out of the corner of your eye when you’re doing something that you know shouldn’t be doing. And despite what I’ve told your mother that I’ve wanted to do with you a few times, I love you now more than ever — if that’s even possible.
This month you’ve taken to the all-too-girly princesses, which is very cute. I say it’s cute right now because I’m sure that in four more years I’ll be plenty sick of princesses. What’s so adorable right now is your fascination with the movie Cinderella, and your frequent requests to watch said movie: “Watch Cinderellellellella?”
I think one of the milestones worth noting is your improved dexterity. You use forks and spoons like it’s second nature now. You put Crayon to paper very well and determined. You’re precise when you build things with your blocks. And you do most of these things with your left hand. Your mom and I are both right-handed. Both sets of grandparents are right-handed. But we carry a recessive left-handed gene, which we’re thinking you picked up. It may be too early to tell, but who knows. Lefties are sometimes pegged as different, but I will embrace that difference because it pulls on a special heartstring of mine. Because my dad was nearly blind in his right eye, he had to teach himself how to shoot a gun and draw a bow left handed. I learned to shoot a gun and draw a bow left handed because I emulated my dad when he taught me how to hunt. And you favoring your left hand right now reminds me of that and how special my relationship was with my dad.
You’ve got your ABC’s and 123’s down pat now. What’s great is that you quickly became pretty bored with your 123’s because we’d go to 10, applaud, be done and then focus on our ABC’s. The next night, we’d blow through our 123’s again and then I’d try going on to 11, 12, etc. I guess twelve is hard for you to say, so we’re somewhat stuck at 11, which is okay by me. Whenever I talk to other dad’s and the subject of counting comes up, I’m quick to point out that, “yeah but, this one goes to eleven.”
You continue to let your independence grow and shine. Very often you say, “Maly do it!”, which means you want to water the lawn, blow the bubbles, put the cinnamon on your oatmeal, strap yourself into your car seat and brush your teeth. You’re bold and adventurous, yet understand that you need guidance and protection. You’re quick to bolt out of the house through the front door when we open it, but understand the disparity in our voices if you’re too quick.
You have an interesting fascination with ants and moose that recently came about. A few times when you’ve come to me while I’m at my computer, you’ll ask, “watch movie?” I’ll pause, pick you up and say, “Okay.” You’ll immediately say, “ants!” So we’ll watch some educational video about ants on YouTube. Then you’ll say, “moose!” So we watch some video of a moose playing with a soccer ball.
Shortly after I told you that EVERYTHING is on the Web, you stored that information permanently and decided to test my recently imparted knowledge by asking, “butterfly?” And a few seconds later we were watching butterfly videos. Butterflies are such beautiful and graceful creatures and should be appreciated free in nature, never as a tattoo.
You’ve grown physically so much that it’s so hard to remember you as a wobbly-headed 8.5 pound baby who couldn’t fend for herself. Now you run, dance, ask questions and are trying to master the somersault. Now you’re regimented and have expectations that we’ve instilled upon you. You’re part of the operation, the ship, the ensemble that makes us a family. You’re growing, learning and defining your role in the family. You announce when you poop and when Daddy needs to trim his ear hair.
The other night your mom went to the Parents Morning Out registration lottery. There are a select number of kids that get to be enrolled in “school” by means of drawing names out of a hat. Your name was one that was drawn. We weren’t really expecting to “win” so we’re still in somewhat of a state of shock that in August, you’ll be on your own, without your mom or dad for four hours every Tuesday and Thursday for nine months. So it looks like we’ll be unleashing you unto the world. And more importantly, the church. If you can hold off on pointing out the location and professing from where your farts originate, that would be much appreciated.
But what stands out in my mind right now, is that night that we had together while your mom was at the lottery. Since I broke my ankle almost two months ago, I’ve been a little limited in the rituals that you and I have established over the course of two years. That night was one of the few nights where I was left to my own devices. And for both of us, despite my temporary disability, it was just like old times. You were excited about taking a bath and trying to catch the “vortex” (the water swirling down the tub drain), brushing your teeth and putting on jammies. I think these are things that have caused your mom unusual stress as of late because those are things that you and I normally do.
What was really cute was the part where your mom would ordinarily take over to put you to bed. That night, I had to fill in. In the past couple months, your mom would rock you in the rocking chair and sing songs to you. You have four songs that you like your mom to sing to you: Ocean, Edel, Beautiful and Trees. I don’t know any of these songs. And apparently you know this.
With your head on my shoulder, I rocked you and started talking about nothing, thinking that a monotonous voice would calm you and get you ready for bed. After a couple minutes, you asked, “song?”, instead of a request for a specific song that you would have otherwise asked of your mom. This was of great surprise to me. So I quickly asked, “Okay! What song to you want Daddy to sing?” And, of course, you said, “moose!!!” So I made up a song about a moose named Jeff who had bad breath. And when I ran out of words that rhymed with breath, I rubbed your back and said, “that was a great song”. And then you said, “butterfly!” So I made up a song about butterflies that rode motorcycles near the ocean. And, thankfully, I sang well enough to where you fell asleep with your head on my shoulder. That’s something you haven’t done in quite a long while. Instead of getting out of that rocking chair and putting you into your bed, I just sat there and held your sleeping body close to me for a few minutes. I will cherish that moment forever.
As you keep growing and take in the world around you, I just hope that the good advice and examples that we provide are the ones that stick with you, and that you continue to blossom to be the beautiful person that you’ve already proven that you can be. I constantly hope and pray that I do and say the right things that will stick with you. I hope I never miss that opportunity to impart my knowledge and love so that one day, you will know how to do better than me.
I love you so much, Sugar. More than you will ever, ever know.