I’m sorry I’m late writing to you again. A few days before the 16th I started thinking about what to say here and I got tied up knots feeling like I barely know how to capture all of your delightful growth and personality lately. I think this means I’m too busy and distracted. In the moment, I love you to pieces, but then when I go to think what makes you so fun and special, I have trouble remembering, and feel sure that I’m forgetting all the most important pieces.
This month felt like an eternity. Christmas came and went peacefully and we found it refreshing and relaxing. We traveled nowhere and really saw no one. At the last minute we decided to share dinner with one of our dear friend BN, who’s moving to Oregon at the end of next month. We gathered with a few other people from the music school in his downtown loft for a potluck Christmas dinner. You watched “Okino” (Pinocchio) upstairs on his TV and came down occasionally to hang out with us. Some Koreans had brought an enormous bag of puffed rice cookies as big as your face and you went ballistic for them, so they came home with us as a little Christmas present for you. It’s always so unpredictable, what sorts of foods you’ll take a liking to. I was surprised you went for those cookies because in general you don’t have much use for simple carbs like breads and cakes and cookies.
We were sick over Christmas. All of us had a nasty sinus bug and you or Jacob would wake the whole family up at least once every night for several weeks with coughing or congestion. One night you couldn’t stop coughing around 8:30 after Jacob had fallen asleep, so I brought you upstairs and snuggled you, giving you a sucker, Jacob’s albuterol, and making you our ubiquitous “honey tea.” You snuggled on me until Daddy got home an hour later and then he tucked you back in bed. Another night your cough was so bad that you couldn’t stop, and clearly couldn’t sleep lying down. So I spent several hours “sleeping” with you on the couch upstairs, just like we did two and a half years ago when you were a newborn and would sleep nowhere else. Those groggy moments deep into the night a couple weeks ago brought back all those memories, and in a way it was like nothing had changed. Your face is still the same. The way you sleep is still the same. And, Oh! your personality is still the same.
You’ve become hilariously capricious about how you settle in for sleep. You always prefer to nap on my bed when given the option between that and your own, which is fine, since Jacob always wants to be the lucky one with your room to play in at nap time. But the funny thing is how you choose to sleep. You always spell it out (like everything else) in precise, unmistakable full sentences. Sometimes you want a kiss. Sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you want the Night Night Song. Sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you want to sleep under my blankets. Sometimes you don’t. In your bed we never know whether you’ll opt for your comforter or only “little blankets.” Often on my bed you demand that a “pillow house” be erected for you, so I assemble all our pillows in a big square with you at the center. Then you look around like a dog turning three times before sleep, trying to decide which pillow you’ll put your head on this time. In your bed the version of this selective process has to do with where you want your pillows positioned: at the head? by the edge? by the wall…? Finally, there are your animals and babies. Sometimes you lovingly include a whole selection of them. Sometimes you extend favor to poor sidelined Affe. Usually you push them all away, opting solely for the company of Pooh, the tiny stuffed animal Miss Nicole brought you for Christmas. Oh, how you love that bear.
Your love for the Winnie the Pooh movie hasn’t waned the least bit recently, either, and there have been a couple very difficult afternoons where you’ve woken from your nap in a horrible mood, crying pitifully. But the crying never really stops, and all you can ask for us “Watch a movie.” or “Watch Pooh.” Feeling pretty confident that this is becoming too much of a crutch for you, I stand my ground, and you continue to behave in a way that suggests you may have had a nightmare or perhaps are coming down with another cold. You are miserable and touchy and inconsolable. Sometimes I’ve reached for the Tylenol, but a couple times I haven’t, trying instead to offer any of a dozen enticements. When you reject them all with a malaise that would impress a used-up 19th-century European artist, I draw my conclusion, even though you never come right out and say it: you are fine, you just want Pooh. Which usually means No Pooh for You.
But when I do let you watch it your whole body twinkles, not just your eyes. You grin and giggle and sit completely engrossed. I really don’t mind, because you and your brother have been so drawn into the story – the world – of Pooh that you see yourself in it, and you are forever having discussions about who is who: “I’m Pooh. You’re Rabbit. Jacob is Christopher Robin.” (It always changes.) You have the whole thing by memory and I just about die laughing when I hear you incorporate it into your conversations, saying to Jacob, finger pointed like Pooh in his nightcap: “You go this way. And I’ll go this way.” Funniest of all was the day you adopted Rabbit’s phrase and went around punctuating everything you did with “Mark my words.”
It’s been delightful watching you sink into long periods of focused play, growing into the same place your brother is. For Christmas we doubled our collection of wooden train tracks, and most of the last two weeks we’ve had a massive, sprawling train track laid out on the floor with the sunshine spilling in from the double doors. You and Jacob play for endless calm moments, sometimes an hour at a time, often managing to handle scuffles with peace and ingenuity (“Merry! You have a stop light so I can go through!”) rather than coming to blows and tears. It’s sweet to see your little body growing into this new stage, too, as you’ve learned to nimbly crawl amongst the lines of track without knocking them over.
You are growing very fast, getting taller every week, and looking almost every bit as much a preschooler instead of a toddler as your strong, lanky brother does. You’re outgrowing a lot of your 2T clothes now and just yesterday wore a brand new dress I found for $7 at Gymboree – a darling knitted sweater dress of bright orange, with grey tights underneath. (Your love for tights is unusual and makes me laugh because I remember hating them as a little girl.)
Your hair, still wispy and thin, is getting steadily longer. One day a couple weeks ago we reached a moment of crisis when I finally saw what a mess Jacob’s and my hair had gotten to, both of us weeks past due for haircuts. So I impulsively decided to dash off with Jacob for a quick haircut at the mall, leaving you to have a date with Daddy at home, saying something along the lines of “Jacob, your hair is a mess! Let’s go get haircuts.” After that you would not be distracted. You wanted the same exciting attention, so you declared “My hair is a mess. I need a haircut,” over and over again. The first thing I did was to hide the haircutting kit way up on a high closet shelf, remarking to Daddy that the security threat level for scissors had been raised to “red.” Later that afternoon you woke from your nap in one of those funks and I began trying everything to make you less despairing of life. At one moment, as I held you and we looked out the kitchen window at passing cars, you announced out of the blue in the whiniest voice possible: “My hair is messy. I need a haircut!!!” So we marched upstairs and I got out those scissors and set you in front of the mirror and proceeded to “cut” your hair, combing it through and loudly snipping the scissors in the air behind you. You were quite proud of yourself, and I was pretty proud of me.
I’m excited for all this new year is going to hold for us. You are growing up so much, and as frustrating it is that you’ve hit the first of what I’m sure will be many stages in the next two years when you try to abandon napping, it is rather nice to think that we will be able to afford to spend whole afternoons at the park instead of in bed if we choose. This past Friday was such a beautiful, unseasonably warm day that I decided we should walk to the park. To my surprise, I carried you only for maybe five minutes, all told. You walked the whole distance and back, about two and a half miles round trip. I’m excited to think of all the fun we will have when we move to our new house half the distance from the park, and all the time we’ll spend in our new yard landscaping together. I’m excited to think of snuggling our babies together this summer, too. I swear last night when I kissed you goodnight and you were holding your baby tight and earnest, her all wrapped up in one of our swaddling blankets, you lying on your back looking down at her in your arms, you looked just like a for-real Mommy.
I think this month I’m going to try to keep a running list of what makes you so hilarious so I can make a proper record of your endless antics next time I write.
For now, I love you.