Rockstar Woes

Dear Love Bug,

It started first thing this morning when you climbed into bed with us at 10 to 7 (damn this room and all its natural light) and lay absolutely still sandwiched between us for more than an hour. 

Then, when I took you to the bathroom for our ritual morning Pull-up removal, I realized you were dry for the second night in a row! Woohoo! When you were perched on your step stool, you looked down at your PJs and said “Look at my cool blast-off shirt!” I said “Your PJs are cool! Wish I had a pair.” And you said “I’ll buy you some.”

Down in the living room, playing with Nonna and me, you offered both of us your coveted Paw Patrol stickers just ’cause you like us (I think). 

At the farmer’s market, there was a local artist playing a ukulele and singing. At one point, a little girl had joined her for a halting rendition of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” and you were intrigued. When they finished, you said “Is it my turn?” and clambered up on stage, where you absolutely belted out the same song (way better than the little girl, IMHO) to the accompanying ukulele, one hand on the mic like a rockstar. 

I thought I might burst with pride. You are something else. 

Then it all went downhill. You spent the rest of the day acting like a lunatic and exhausting all of us. You even had a mini tantrum on our walk down Main Street on the way to the Island Creamery, of all places, because you didn’t want to hold anyone’s hand. 

Daddy and I think we have it figured out. Whenever you seem to be going through a cognitive leap, which seems to be the case with your behavior this morning, your behavior turns terrible. We think it has to do with cerebral connections being made or perhaps synapses firing. Whatever it is, it’s both awesome and terrible. 

Love you like crazy, kiddo,

Mamma

So Long, Daycare

Dear Love Bug,

Happy graduation! Today was your last day at Ms. G’s, where you’ve been in daycare since April 1, 2015, when you were seven months old. You’ve spent a lot of time there and did a lot of growing up. You made friends, had fights, learned to share, probably learned some not-so-great-stuff, got potty trained, learned your ABCs and your phone number, and loved Ms. G hard. You’ve been very attached to her–and to your daycare buddies–for most of your life. It’s been your home and your family when we couldn’t be. 

Now you’re on your way to preschool by way of summer camp (after a week at the beach and a week home with Nonna, Daddy, and me). We’re all super excited for you and super hoping that you’re excited too. We really don’t know what to expect. You’re so ready for this; you’re smart and you’re social; inquisitive and extroverted. I know you’ll thrive off of the structure and stimulation and you’ll learn a million new things. But I’m a bit nervous that despite us talking to you over and over about these upcoming changes, they’re going to take you by surprise, and you’re going to be sad and missing the only daycare you’ve ever known.  

When we left Ms. G’s today, you had one foot out the door and barely batted an eyelash. Despite the graduation balloon and the bag full of gifts, including a beautiful Dr. Seuss frame with a photo of you and Ms. G together and another print of the whole gang, I’m not sure it registered with you that today was any different from any other Friday. I had to remind you to give Ms. G a hug and say goodbye. And who knows when it will hit, if it will hit? Monday? Probably not, since you’ll be distracted with the beach. The following Monday, when we’re back home and you stay home with Nonna rather than heading to daycare? I doubt it. Maybe the first day of summer camp?

In some ways, this feels like the real end of your babyhood. You’re starting school. You’ll be in a classroom with a teacher, and you’ll do that for the next 16-20 (or more!) years of your life. This is it, kiddo. Welcome to the System. 

But also, this is just the end of the beginning. You have so much growing and learning and living to do. At summer camp, you’ll try karate, cook your own lunch, have water play days and field trips (on a bus!), work with computers, sleep on a cot, bring a lunch box and book bag, and make new friends. There’s a whole new world there to be discovered, and perhaps by the time you’re ready to start preschool at the local Y after Labor Day, you’ll really be ready for it. 

Something tells me you’ll be just fine. 

Love you like crazy, kiddo,

Mamma

Then and Now

Dear Love Bug,

I have a bit of a Timehop obsession (for future you: that’s an iPhone app), and it’s not just about keeping up my 145-day streak of checking it. I love seeing pictures of you from one and two years ago, from the very beginning of our adventure together. 

Today’s Timehop from two years ago was one of my most favorite shots of you ever. You were almost seven months old, sitting up on your own and playing with your Zany Zoo cube (which I just last week passed on to someone who won’t let it collect dust in a corner, and now I’m a little bit sad about it). You had delightfully chubby elbows and thighs, and your hair was starting to grow back in after your tragic Bald Phase. You had a slightly longer and thicker tuft on top that came straight through the center, giving you a somewhat punk-rock vibe. Anyway, you’d turned around and given me a smile that will forever melt my heart, and I caught it in just that instant. Oh boy were you a beautiful baby!

I took a picture of you yesterday, standing on the porch with your newest Paw Patrol shirt and your turtle backpack on. And your ubiquitous red Chucks. And you look so much like a big boy ready for school that I kind of want to cry. (Where did that baby go and so very quickly?) You’re in need of a haircut, and you have So. Much. Hair. But what’s funny is that your cheeks are bigger now, I think, than they were at seven months. And what’s strange is you don’t really look anything like that baby anymore. Your features have changed completely. You’re no longer elvin and more munchkin. But you are still absolutely strikingly beautiful. 

And you’ll always be my baby. 

Love you like crazy, kiddo,

Mamma

two

Blink. Just like that we’ve traveled once more around the sun.

As I strapped you into your car seat this afternoon–your legs somehow gone from chubby to gangly, all tucked up against the seat back–I took a good, hard look at your face and decided you are most certainly a little boy. There’s no more baby left there, I don’t think. Your features are so defined, so you. You’ve got little boy hair that’s always tousled. You’ve got little boy mannerisms and little boy expressions, and you run and climb and jump and ask for more anything that will flip you upside down or launch you into space. I try to rejoice in the little human you’ve become to keep myself from being just a tad heartbroken over not being able to go back.

And I really, really like you, little human. I would choose to be friends with you. You’re funny–really, you crack yourself up–and loyal and quick to forgive. You keep us, and yourself, company with your constant chatter. You like giving (and sometimes even getting) hugs and kisses. You ask us to “hang out.” And you’ve got verve.

I mean really, you’re fierce.

You are knock-down-drag-out willful, nearly 30 pounds of it. You fight for what you believe in (at least that’s how I interpret those tantrums that have begun to crop up), and you’ve got a brassy edge to you. I like you that way, although you have certainly brought me to tears, and I’m sure it will happen again. And again.

While this past year has been about us setting limits as your world has expanded, I have a feeling this next year is going to be about you testing those limits. As it should be. I just hope Daddy and I are ready for it. You have no problems advocating for what you want or making it known when you don’t agree with us. And you do it in full sentences and at full volume, often surprising us with the complexity of your thoughts and your syntax.

I’m not sure what I imagined when you were brewing in my belly two-plus years ago, but I never imagined a 2-year-old who could outsmart me. Daddy and I have taken to spelling words to each other, and on more than one occasion we have stopped dead in our jaw-dropped tracks. You seem somehow to be able to spell. You will repeat what we say verbatim, often tattling on one or the other of us. “Mamma said that,” you’ll say to Daddy, and when he looks over at me, I must sheepishly admit that you’re right.

And in this past year, you’ve gone from a relatively stationary object to a blur, half-tornado, half-hurricane, all ninja. You. Never. Sit. Still. You can climb onto the back of the couch in about two seconds flat, balancing on that top edge above the pillows so you can check out what’s going on in front of the house. You can maneuver monkey bars and climbing nets like nobody’s business. (Although you’ve fallen off of the rickety bridge at the playground and knocked the wind out of yourself at least twice. You cry for maybe 30 seconds.) Interestingly, you’re kind of lukewarm about slides and swings. Or maybe you just have to be in the right mood.

When you do slow down, you flop yourself down on your tummy to work on puzzles–you’re beginning to get pretty good at matching up more complicated pieces–or you pull books off of your shelves and flip through them. You love throwing balls (you’ve got a pretty good arm), playing with Little People (you’ve started to play pretend with them), making your trains go round their track and coloring. You also have an affinity for stickers, markers, magnets, flashlights, sticks of any kind (you call them “pew pew pews”) and all sports equipment (especially baseball bats and basketball hoops).

And you work up quite an appetite. We’re lucky that we’ve never had to battle you over food, and you often eat us under the table. Especially when it comes to pancakes. When you don’t eat, we know something’s wrong immediately. In fact, that was the first sign of your disastrous discomfort nearly two months ago when you suffered through an awful bout of Hand Foot and Mouth Disease, which I can easily say was, hands down, your worst sickness out of a pretty sickness-ridden year (that also included Roseola, ear infections, upper respiratory infections and more). Your favorite foods are hot dogs, the aforementioned pancakes, peanut butter and jelly, quesadillas and pasta. You love using chopsticks. You adore fruits of all kinds (but berries and grapes trump all), and you’ll willingly eat broccoli and string beans.

You are entirely your parents’ child with your sweet tooth. Or maybe teeth. You’re a fiend for cookies, ice cream, donuts and cake, and you’ll ask for them at the most absurd times. You don’t even really seem to care that you can’t have them. You just like talking about them. You’re pretty excited about the impending goodies that we’ve been promising you for your birthday, and when we talk about it, you say you’re going to “blow out the candles.”

When I think about where we were two years ago today, two years ago tonight (my water broken, hooked up to a fetal monitor waiting for labor that hadn’t begun), I realize how incomplete our lives were, and we really had no idea. You’ve filled spaces we didn’t know had to be filled. You’ve grown love we didn’t know needed to grow. And you’ve turned us into people we weren’t before, developing in us patience, empathy and a fierce sense of family. You’ve brought Daddy and me closer than ever. We have so much to thank you for, and you don’t even know what you’ve done.

Happy Two Years in this crazy place, Little Human. Happy Two Years to us, as we’re the lucky ones. May this year shine even brighter than the last and pass maybe a bit more slowly, ‘k? I love you SO big!

leaps and bounds

21 months

The hubbub in the house has died down post-Memorial Day cookout. The dishwasher’s running. The living room has been picked up. Food’s put away. My tummy and my heart are full. There’s something about having a lot of activity in the house that makes me feel satisfied, and the calm that follows it is even more satisfying.

You’re fast asleep–for hours already. I still wonder what you dream about–if you can remember the details of your day enough to recall them in sleep–and maybe the multitude of adventures we had this weekend are shaping your night thoughts. I’m glad we had the extra day off; without it, I would’ve been completely wiped out.

Between the outdoor time in the stifling heat, the pool, the sprinkler, the birthday party, the multiple meals out, the playground, the gardening and everything else, you’re exhausted–and so am I. You took a few marathon naps this weekend, and you’ve been crashing well before 8. This intensive time with you has felt like a luxury; our weekends are usually so rushed, trying to squeeze everything (chores, errands, play time) into two days. Having an extra day makes all the difference. Does anyone want to offer me a four-day-a-week job?!

We’re gearing up for more uninterrupted family time, as we’re off to the beach–for a full week this year!–with Nonna and Opa on Saturday. That gives us four short days to get everything prepped, packed and crammed into the car. And this after we packed and unpacked just a couple of weeks ago for a trip up to Massachusetts to visit Uncle Eddie, Aunt Lala and Hazel.

What a treat for you that was: You chased their chickens and collected their eggs; you rode in a wagon that Uncle Eddie pulled with his tractor; you had room to do nothing but run (through the sprinkler, even–a first!) on their huge property;  you had a built-in older sister to entertain you (I’ve decided that rent-an-older-sibling is a fantastic business idea); you ate delicious homemade ice cream and played on a couple of playgrounds; you hiked along the Mill River. It felt so good to breathe that fresh mountain air and to bask in having nothing in particular to do and nowhere especially to be. You had a ball, and Daddy and I had a chance to be grown-ups with our grown-up friends, which we think is important for our senses of identity and our happiness.

In getting to and from Massachusetts, you took your fifth and sixth flights, respectively. We managed to do it pretty cheaply (and they were easy-peasy, less-than-one-hour flights) with you flying as a lap infant, and it marked the last time we’ll be able to take advantage of that option. Next time we fly, we’ll be paying for a seat for you because you’ll be TWO. That happened extraordinarily quickly.

And as we enter the last quarter of a year leading up to that milestone, you’re growing by leaps and bounds. I’m fairly certain you’re stretching in your sleep; each day, you seem taller and more little boyish. We caught you with your leg slung over the top rail of your crib in attempt to escape, so we lowered it yet again–and this is the final frontier, the lowest setting. Next stop: toddler bed.

You’re getting excellent practice at climbing (and also running, jumping, galloping, hanging, crawling and shimmying) at the playground, where you spend most of your days (natch) now that the 40-Day Flood has ended and summer seems to be here to stay. And you work that playground like a boss. You’re up and down stairs and ladders and all other climbing implements effortlessly, and the other day–straight outta nowhere–you walked up to the slide, sat down, turned yourself around and went down backwards and on your stomach. What?! You were down and up again before I could figure out what had just happened. You’re also starting to make contact when kicking balls, your throwing arm ain’t half bad and you’re maybe (kinda) starting to figure out how to make significant forward progress on your riding toys and in your Cozy Coupe (as opposed to just pushing yourself backwards).

Other recent interests include coloring with crayons (rather than eating them, although you sneak an occasional waxy bite, still, here and there); playing with stickers; and preparing elaborate spreads of fake food and then demanding that we eat them. “Sit,” you say, pointing to the pouf in the living room. “Eat.” And you shove a wooden lemon toward us or, if we’re lucky, some “bread” that you’ve “buttered.”

Your language skills continue to floor us.

We’ve caught you responding to the TV when the characters–presumably either in Elmo, Super WHY! or Yo Gabba Gabba, the shows you request regularly–address the audience with a question. “What’s your name?” they ask. You’re very emphatic: “Ethan!”

You speak in full sentences, although much of it only you can understand, especially when you get going fast. Some of your latest gems include:

“Ethan push button and watch Nemo on the iPad.”

“Mamma, flip-flops hurting Ethan’s feet.”

“There’s a hole in the bucket” followed by insane laughter.

And–first words uttered upon waking up in the morning–“I need chocolate cake.” (You are my son!) This has led to some bargaining when I respond by saying there’s no chocolate cake. “Cookies?” “Nope.” “Goldfish?”

You talk so much, in fact, that we’ve realized we’ve gotten to the point that every parent, I imagine, gets to eventually: We respond exasperatedly to the endless “Mamma? Mamma? Mamma?” or “Daddy? Daddy? Daddy?” with a “Yes, Ethan, WHAT?”

I have to remind myself that you talking all the time is awesome because you’re able to express yourself using words and not by screaming or crying.

And that, Love Bug, is something to celebrate.

aye yuv yoo

19 months

I can only imagine you’ve gone through some major cognitive leap recently. Your understanding of the world and how it works grows exponentially on a daily basis, and your ability to express yourself is mesmerizing.

Daddy and I like to play a game with you where we ask you who says what. It goes like this:

“What does the cow say?” we ask.
“Moo,” you say.

“What does the sheep say?”
“Baa.”

“What does the duck say?”
“Quack quack.”

The other day, Daddy asked you what Opa says. At one point when you were very young, Opa started saying “heh heh” to you, and you’d say it back. In fact, before you learned to say “Opa” you called him “Heh Heh.”

So when Daddy asked you what Opa says, you responded “heh heh.” Not surprising.

Then Daddy mixed it up a bit and said, “What does Daddy say?”

You responded: “Aye yuv yoo.” We were floored.

Daddy then asked, “What does Mamma say?” And you answered the same way: “Aye yuv yoo.”

My heart nearly burst from the joy! I think maybe we’re doing something right? (Thank goodness you didn’t say “Ethan, no!” which you may hear nearly as frequently as “I love you.” Toddlerhood is in full swing.)

You’ve just become much more affectionate, coming to us for hugs and cuddles, running up to us (Daddy especially) and throwing your arms around our legs while burying your face in a thigh, and giving kisses when requested. You make a “mwah” noise when  you do it, too, which just about kills me. And it’s not just for us! You kiss photos of people like your grandparents, and you kiss yourself in the mirror. You’ve also become lovey-dovey with your favorite toys, giving Simba, Heehee (your blankie), Lamby (a relatively new fave) and Max kisses just because. But it doesn’t stop there; you have your toys kiss each other, going “mwah mwah” as they do. This holds true for your Disney characters and rubber duckies, puzzle pieces, Little People and anything with a mouth, really. I love that you do this, and I love that you’re kissed so often it seems natural to you to make your toys give kisses, too.

Lest you read this at some point in the future and think you were the most perfectly charming toddler ever, let me assure you that all of this cerebral development has come with its fair share of downsides. You’ve become majorly, heels-dug-in willful, insistently demanding and, quite frankly, pretty bossy. “Daddy, fix it.” “Mamma, hold it.” Or, even more frequently: “Cookies!” or “Pancakes!” Over and over and over. You’ve also recently begun saying “I want,” which allows for some impressive sentence construction: “I want s’more mango.” “I wanna play.” If you don’t get what you want, you will often throw stuff, push things over, swing your arms around to hit something or completely melt down into a mini-tantrum. Not your finer side.

You’ve also started waking up in the middle of the night again. It’s not every night, but it’s more often than not, and it’s always weirdly in the 2 a.m. hour. I thought it might be the 18(ish)-month sleep regression, but tonight I spotted that first lower molar breaking through your raw, angry gum, and I have a feeling that’s the culprit. We’ve been plying you with Hyland’s Teething Tablets, which generally help you drift back to sleep pretty quickly.

The teething doesn’t seem to have affected your appetite, though. You must be going through a growth spurt. How else can I explain the two-hot-dog lunch? Or the entire-whole-banana-plus-blackberries dessert? Tonight, you kept asking for “more broccoli” so I’m not complaining. I’m thrilled you’re eating as well as you are, especially after a period of extreme pickiness that seemed to accompany your most recent illness (and amoxicillin treatment). We thought it was just that you weren’t feeling well, but one night you kept saying “that” and pointing to your plate. We’d given you everything on it, and you’d turned your nose up to all of it. Somehow, we realized you were talking about the plate itself. We put it on your tray and handed you your fork and spoon, and you left not a crumb. Apparently, you were on a hunger strike because we were still portioning out your food rather than allowing you to eat like a big boy off your plate.

Aye yuv yoo, Munchkin.


  
  
  
  
 

pretty mamma

18 months

One of my favorite of our recent exchanges, which are becoming more like mini conversations as you begin to string words together into half sentences:

I had taken you upstairs after dinner to brush your teeth, and you spotted my comb on the vanity counter.

You: “Hold it, hold it.” That’s your way of saying you’d like something, stat.

I grabbed the comb for you, and you ran it through your hair a couple of times. Then you ran it through mine a few times, took a good look at your handiwork and stated, “Pretty Mamma.”

{melt}

Me: “Awww, thank you, Sweet Pea.”

You: “Welcome.”

You’ve become very polite: You say “welcome” any time one of us says thank you. You also say “welcome” when you mean “thank you,” but the sentiment is there. We’re very proud of this new habit of yours. You’re also pretty good at remembering to say “peas” if you really, really want something.

Some other recent things that have absolutely floored me:

  • You can count to 20 (skipping a few numbers here and there, but still).
  • When you see the framed postcards of Verona as we’re traversing the stairwell, you say “Nonno’s.” I have no idea how you know this. It’s like you’re a sorcerer.
  • You can differentiate shapes and colors, and you’re getting to be a whiz at puzzles and shape sorting.
  • And this one made laugh: Tonight, we were looking at a board book about the beach, and I taught you “bathing suit.” You interpreted this as “Beebee’s soup.” Haha! Not quite the same thing.

You’re just getting over your nth illness of the calendar year, and we’re not even through March. This time, you were diagnosed with a sinus infection and pinkeye (shortly after I recovered from the same strange, goopy combination), and at least we’ve been able to treat them with actual effective medicines. The past few times it’s been “just another virus” and we’ve all had to suffer through it.

This past weekend, before the goop hit a fever pitch, you joined me at the salon for your first haircut. You sat on my lap, and Daddy distracted you with iPhone videos and cookies while Connie, my hairstylist, transformed your mullet–adorable as it may have been on you–into a decent style with a shape. You tolerated it until the clippers came out, and then you went ninja on her (also reserved for nail trimming and anti-pinkeye eye drop application). She maybe cut the front a bit too short for my taste, but it’ll grow back quickly, I know. Already, it looks way thicker to me. I’d like to avoid cutting your hair too frequently because I think toddlers with Beatles-esque mops are the cutest ever.

This weekend, we’ll be celebrating 19 months of YOU (along with 37–eek!–years of ME) and also bunnies and spring. We’re not really doing Easter this year, since Mimi’s working, so instead we’re going to go hunt eggs on a farm. The weather’s going to be sunny and spring like, and all of a sudden the world seems pretty again.