Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Dear R,

It has definitely been too long since my last real update. You are 19 months old now, and seem to have made up your mind to test out the "terrible twos" a little early. You're not (that) terrible. But you get angry a lot these days about things that don't make sense to me. Like when you've been straining against the harness in your stroller, and we finally get home, and I take you out, and you pitch a huge fit and try to climb right back into the seat. Or when you're all sweaty and I try to change you into something cooler and you hurl yourself backward onto the floor, screeching. You're getting more violent these days, baby. Lots of clawing and hitting. Today you came after me with Edward's hairbrush because I tried to stop you from cracking the dog's spine with it.

I must admit the majority of our battles seem to be over Edward. Poor beloved, tormented Edward. You adore him and all the abuse is coming from an originally good place. You want to hug him, but it always turns into an awful choking headlock. You try to approach him to pet him, he runs away in terror, you grab his tail and punish him for trying to spurn your affections. You want to nurture him, but end up doing things like trying to brush his teeth with a metal spatula. I really am doing everything I can to protect him, but the furry fool insists on following you around a lot (you're really low to the ground and often have something edible dangling from your fingertips). But of course you don't understand why I'm coming between you and your best friend, and often all hell breaks loose in typical frustrated-toddler fashion.

If I hold Edward in my lap though (so that he can't escape), you are very tender and gentle when you cuddle your face against his neck. Your grandma bought you a book about a little girl and her dog and you ask me to read it to you multiple times a day, and each time, you are inspired to reenact the scenes in the book (throwing a ball with Edward, who unfortunately has never been into balls; sharing tea and cookies, goddamn book; kisses and hugs, which Edward does his best to survive). Even if you're in the middle of a massive tantrum, if I tell you that it's time to say good-night to Edward and go down to your room, you somehow pull yourself together, toddle over to him, and very carefully pat his back. I'm also fairly certain Edward's name was one of your first words, even if it did come out extremely garbled and still sounds kind of like "Eh-eee" (Eddy). And sometimes, the two of you even succeed in playing together, much to my amazement.

What else? You're still very much into smells: fresh herbs, citrus zest, even my morning coffee. Just the other day, you were happily walking about the room sniffing a peppercorn.

You're not so afraid when we go out anymore, though you will freak out randomly and start climbing up my leg. You love meowing but are scared of cats. You look eight months pregnant after you've eaten a meal--the sight of that bulging little tummy is terrifying. You like dancing on top of the coffee table. Although you've never eaten these things in your life, you will start signing "more" (which you use to say that you want something) when you see pictures or even just drawings of cookies, ice cream, and chocolate. Why?! How do you even know they're edible?

The other night, I was marveling at how much time we spend together, how thoroughly I know you and how you are starting to know me. It's shocking to think that two people can be so physically and emotionally close--and yet, one day, you will begin the process of distancing yourself from me. I suddenly understand things, like mothers who can't cut the apron strings. I don't want to be one of those moms. But I think I can appreciate how hard it must be to be needed this much and then not needed at all. I used to dream all the time that I could breathe underwater, but taking that first breath was always so hard, going against everything my body knew. That's how it must be, to watch your child grow up. We are still a long ways off until then, but I don't think you can be a parent and not look down the road, with both joy and dread.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Dear R,

I think you are psychically connected to my Blogger account because every time I pull up the New Post page, you abruptly wake up from your nap with an angry yell. So much time has passed in your concentrated little life, and I haven't recorded it. I actually don't feel too bad though because I've been savoring our days together. Although we have our rough patches, especially as you get more and more opinionated, while still not actually being able to vocalize said opinions--most of the time, I'm really enjoying this stage of your toddlerhood. You're still so much a baby in my eyes, and I feel a bit sad whenever I think about you getting older and more independent. I don't even want to think about the inevitability of being hated, once you hit your teens. Is there any way to avoid that? Every time I talk to your Nana--my mom--and consider my attitude toward her, I totally freak out, imagining myself at the receiving end of all that impatience and...

And there it is: Your angry waking yell. Time to stop.