I love your hair!

Dear Love Bug,

You actually said this to me today. Along with “I love your shirt!” and many unprompted “I love you!”s. 

Every time you pay me a compliment (which is amazing, by the way), I pay you one back. I want to teach you that it’s nice to do that, and I rather enjoy our mutual admiration society. 

When we got home from the library this afternoon (we’re working on your “library voice,” which you haven’t yet mastered), Daddy was eating chips and offered you one. And you said, “Thanks for sharing with me, Daddy.”

Who is this child? Can this possibly be the effects of two days at camp? What are they feeding you? 

Of course, it didn’t stop the total meltdown before bed over having to use the potty. I’ll save that for another post. 

Love you like crazy, kiddo,

Mamma

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

I Love You

Dear Love Bug,

One of the happy side effects of you sleeping in a big boy bed is that I can lean over and kiss you goodnight. What a treat! I’m so used to having to make do whispering night-night to you through the bars and kind of petting your head, which is as far as I could reach. 
I always say the mantra that Nonna and I used to recite to each other: “Night-night, sweet dreams, see you in the morning, love you!”

And speaking of “love you,” one of the cutest things you did yesterday, Nonna reminded me, was figure out how to make the sign language “I love you” sign on your own. Nonna started doing the sign with you ages ago, but you could never manipulate your little fingers into the sign. 

Then yesterday, on the way to the playground, you focused really hard on it and did it all by yourself. You squealed with glee: “I did it! I did it!” And you kept showing us over and over. Every time I looked down at you, you were staring at your fingers and working them into the sign. A new trick!

Love you like crazy, kiddo,

Mamma

Barefoot on the Moon

Dear Love Bug,

This will be a quick one because I just took NyQuil in an effort to win the war against this nasty cold. 

We barely left the house today, mostly because it was rainy, chilly, and generally icky but also because I couldn’t much motivate to do anything other than nap while you napped. 

When you woke up this afternoon, we found ourselves playing in the basement–one of your favorite spots in the house–and I pulled out the rocket-shaped tent that Nonna got you for Valentine’s Day that you haven’t played much with since then. We set up the play mat so you’d have some padding, and you and Marshall hung out in there for a bit. 

When you were done in the basement, Daddy and I asked if you wanted to bring your tent up to your room, thinking it might get more use if it’s in a spot that you constantly inhabit. You were very excited about this, and once Daddy got it re-mounted in that location, you went about decorating it with blankets and pillows, invited your friends in, and grabbed some books and toys. Daddy read to you for a bit, his head inside the tent with the rest of his long body protruding. When he went downstairs to start getting dinner ready, I took his spot. I can tuck myself inside a bit more easily. 

We read and played. At one point, you asked if you could take your socks off. It was about 1,000 degrees inside that nylon rocket, so I could understand. Still, I asked why you wanted them off as I helped you remove them. 

“Because,” you said, “I want to walk barefoot on the moon.”

Love you like crazy, kiddo,

Mamma

You’re serious!

Dear Love Bug,

This is just something I know I’ll want to remember: Sometimes, for no particular reason, you’ll scrunch up your face, furrow your brow, purse your lips and stare us down, saying, “You’re serious!” in a very serious tone. 

It may have been that we were mad the first time you responded to us this way, but how could we not laugh? Now it’s become a running joke. 

Love you like crazy, kiddo,

Mamma

Z’s

Dear Love Bug,

This is my favorite exchange from today:
Me, as I was getting you ready for your bath: Let’s take off your shoesies. 

You: They’re sandalsies. 

Despite the fact that I was appalled, in retrospect, at having called them “shoesies,” your response is pretty brilliant. Well played. 

Love you like crazy, kiddo,

Mamma

Terrible. And not. 

25 months

We’re headed home from a blissful long weekend in the mountains of Western Maryland that was everything I hoped it would be: relaxing, wholesome, full of fresh air and chilly nights that are good for sleeping, exhausting in the way that only hours spent hiking trails can be. It was our first time away together since I started my new job, and it was so necessary for me–a pause in the breakneck pace of our new normal, uninterrupted time to make up for the distractions of a role that requires so much attention, even when I’m at home. Not having reliable cell service was a blessing. 

We spent most of the weekend with good friends who share our love for the outdoors and for good food, so that made it even sweeter. And they have an 8-year-old girl who’s tolerant of and generous with you. You adore her consistently with how you adore all the older girls in your life, including your cousin. You chase them around with such glee and want to do everything they do. And you miss them when they’re gone.

Yesterday evening, after our friends had left (we stayed an extra evening), you looked around, seemingly just noticing they had gone, and said, “Where is everybody?” We explained that Claire and Ollie (their dog) had gone home with their mommy and daddy. We asked you if you missed your home, and you said “My home is here.” I don’t know if that meant you liked the huge, beautiful, rustic cabin we’d rented so much, you’d prefer to stay there (wouldn’t blame you) or if your home is wherever you’re with us. Either way, it was sweet. 

We were unsure of how the weekend would go, as your behavior has been erratic lately. Or rather, it’s been predictably unpredictable. The more I read about 2-year-olds, the more I discover you’re pretty much a case study: sweet as sugar one minute, full of absolute irrational rage the next. And if you’re not wild with the hottest, burning fury birthed in the deepest pit of hell, you’re doing something to evoke just such emotion in Daddy and me. Usually something we’ve either told you not to do no fewer than 1,000 times or something we’ve told you not to do about 30 seconds earlier. And you do it with a lunatic grin on your face. It. Is. Infuriating. Almost unbearably so. But we’re trying different techniques to help us get through this rough patch and all we can hope is it’s short lived. 

People have said, probably to make us feel less like the most incompetent parents ever, that your behavior is a byproduct of your intelligence. It’s because you’re so clever–they say–that you’ve figured out so many ways to push our buttons. (And for the most part, they’re just ours, as your reports from daycare are overwhelmingly glowing.) But if that’s the case, I keep wondering why you aren’t learning from the constant lessons we’re trying to impart by taking things away, taking you away from the things you want, timeouts, discussions, distractions, offering choices and every other accountability measure we can think of. Why is being told “no” about a million times not sinking in? Anyone?

And then, once the tears and the wailing have ended, you are the kid everyone wants around. You can have full conversations with adults about what you did last weekend; you can explain why you want to play with a particular toy or read a particular book; you point out things that interest you in your sweet, sing-songy little voice: “Look, Mamma!” You can entertain yourself for a good chunk of time; you rarely fuss in the car; you’ve started cleaning up (if motivated) even without us asking. You eat like a champ, you ask for more broccoli, you sit quietly in restaurants and color or play with stickers until your food comes. You say “please,” “thank you” and “I’m sorry,” often without prompting. 

On our lengthy trail hikes this past weekend, you sat contentedly in your backpack, commenting on the leaves and the trees, taking in the world around you. You are completely unfazed by changes in your environment; you go to sleep happily in your Pack N Play in a room that isn’t yours in a house that isn’t yours. You have no problems making yourself at home wherever you might be. 

You are a study in contrasts. A beautiful, bold, frustrating, funny enigma. It may take the entire rest of my life to figure you out. 

I’ve heard from some that three is worse than two, and I wonder how that can possibly be the case. Perhaps their two wasn’t as bad? Maybe you’re precocious and we’ll get this over sooner and begin to move on more quickly? 

We can only hope. In the meantime, we’ll continue weathering this storm and praying we don’t wind up worse for wear. Your bads may be pretty terrible, but your goods are so good (your creativity, your compassion, your sweet gentleness with animals, your generosity, your humor), I have to think we’re doing something right.