Sunday, February 15, 2009

1 year, 3 months

Dear Alli,

Pigtails! Pigtails! Pigtails! Pigtails! Pigtails! Pigtails! Pigtails! Pigtails! Pigtails! Pigtails! Pigtails! Pigtails! Pigtails! Pigtails! Pigtails! Pigtails! Pigtails! Pigtails! Pigtails! Pigtails! Pigtails! Pigtails! Pigtails! Pigtails! Pigtails! Pigtails! Pigtails! Pigtails! Pigtails! Pigtails! Pigtails! Pigtails! Pigtails! Pigtails! Pigtails! Pigtails! Pigtails! Pigtails! Pigtails! Pigtails! Pigtails! Pigtails!

Part of me just wants to repeat that another few million times and call it a letter, but I guess there were a few more things worth recording this month, although none quite as monumental as your hair finally reaching a length that allowed me to put it into adorable itty bitty bunches on the back of your head.

Ever since the ultrasound technician announced with 90 percent certainty that you were a girl, I had visions of pulling your little locks into pigtails. I try very hard not to be too sexist when it comes to raising you -- and I want you to know that if you choose a skateboard over ballet slippers someday, I will completely support that decision -- but there are a few irresistibles when it comes to little girls, and pigtails top that list.

Black patent leather shoes at Christmastime and pastel summer dresses with matching sun hats rank right up there, too.

Anyway, when I attempted styling your hair like that for the first time, I tried not to get overly excited. After all, you have been forcibly ripping out the bows I use to keep your bangs out of your eyes for months now, prompting me to cut them myself, but that's another debacle entirely.

Instead, this amazing thing happened. Not only didn't you fuss when I sat you on your little chair and tied your hair back, you didn't even notice or care afterward. You happily ran around without grunting and making faces and clawing absently at your skull.

So I took about a thousand photos.

I couldn't wait to take you to your playgroup like that, and the reaction didn't disappoint. Everywhere you go with your pigtails, women squeal and gush how adorable you are.

Sometimes it's great just being a girl.

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You continue to amaze me with the things you comprehend. I can talk to you like a real person now without pointing or over-enunciating certain words, and you respond appropriately.

If I say, "Lets go upstairs," you run to the gate. If I say, "It's time for lunch," you run to your highchair. If I ask you to bring me a book or a block or a ball, you do.

Now we just have to work on "Bring me a margarita."

After 5 o'clock, of course.

I had been worried that you were forgetting old words as soon as you learned a new one, but you finally came full circle and started incorporating things you haven't uttered in months. Now you can say "go" and "no" and "dog" in context, proving that you're picking up on things that I didn't even realize you were learning.

In that respect, thank you for not swearing. First, it just wouldn't sound right coming from your sweet high-pitched voice. But most of all, your great-grandmother would kill me for my occasional slip ups.

It's hard. Those words are just so flexible. They're verbs! They're nouns! They're adjectives! They're SUPERWORDS!

One thing you picked up on just by repetition was counting. I always count out the snaps on your onsies while changing your diaper to keep you focused in hopes that you won't contort your body and stand up.

Well, a few weeks ago when I started, "ONE," you joined in: "TWOOO."

I almost submitted your application to Harvard right then, but later that week, "two" morphed into "Toe," which is what you call Toby, then into "Doh," which is dog.

So now, when we count, I say "ONE," then you say "DOG."

It's a start. We'll work on "three" next. Which, who knows? Might end up being "cow" or "cat."

No one said life with you wasn't an adventure.

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Perhaps the most surprising thing this month is how you started using "yes" and "no" correctly.

When you first learned "no," it came out in a constant stream. Everything was no. Or more like NoNoNoNoNoNoNo.

I couldn't WAIT for you to learn a new word. I practiced "book" and "ball" with you and desperately tried to bring back the last favorite, "baby," to no avail. But when you finally latched onto "dog" and "Toby," I felt like I had hit the jackpot. Two words at once! And "no" miraculously disappeared!

For awhile anyway.

But now it doesn't bother me when you say it because you're communicating instead of just uttering it for the sake of making noise. You shake your head and say no if you don't want more chicken. Or you've gotten sick of playing with a particular toy. Or if Toby has been in your face too long. Or if I hand you something other than what you were reaching for.

On the other hand, you nod your head vigorously and say "yes" when I hand you a mini Nilla Wafer. Or ask you if want to take a bath. Or put on a song you like. Or hand you the item on the desk you were hoping I'd allow you to have.

The only hard part about this new communication skill is when I want the opposite answer. Like when I ask you for a kiss and you shout "NO!" and turn your head away from me, pushing your arms against my shoulders in a desperate attempt for freedom.

Your dad and I were so excited when you learned to press your little face against our cheeks when we asked for a kiss -- even when you thought you'd be silly by sticking out your tongue and we ended up with a sopping wet lick instead. But when we asked too frequently and you shook your head and said "no," apparently our exuberant laughter at your response was enough to make you want to try for that reaction again.

Now we get more "no" than kisses, but the few we do get are amazingly genuine.

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I've been working on teaching you your body parts by singing "head, shoulders, knees and toes" and asking you things like, "Where's your nose?"

After watching some of the things you've picked up on recently, I'm convinced a lot of it is sticking, even if you're not fully participating yet. You get frustrated if I keep at it too long and try to distract me by piling a stack of books at my lap. Or if I really go on, you start scrunching up your face and exhaling forcibly like, "GAAH! MOM! OKAY! ... CAN'T YOU SEE THESE BOOKS? ENOUGH ALREADY!"

And if I continue to press the lesson, you throw your entire body onto the ground and start kicking your legs and writhing around as if I set your eyebrows on fire.

Then I laugh and congratulate you for correctly locating your appendages.

Unfortunately for you, I won't be swayed by your overly dramatic tendencies. You got them from me. On the bright side, it will make you an excellent storyteller someday, especially if you can harness your father's comedic timing.

And you might already be well on your way.

To stop me from asking about your nose one afternoon, you eventually obliged and pointed to it. Only your pointer finger went right up your nostril, and you inexplicably left it there. When I laughed uncontrollably, you took your other pointer finger and stuck it up the other nostril and smiled.

I picked a winner.

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There are so many other little anecdotes to tell. Things like how when your grandma came to visit last week, you were so taken with her that you tried mimicking everything she did. If she waived her arms, you did. If she clapped, you followed. And when she said "Tickle, tickle, tickle," so did you. And now you chase Toby saying, "TIC-kle, TIC-kle," while he desperately tries to find higher ground.

You won't let us carry you up or down stairs anymore because you want to do it yourself. The only problem is that not only does it take you for-ev-er, but you stop to pick up every little speck of lint on each step. Then you turn around and hand it to me as if you've stumbled on something so great it just begs to be shared. This is nothing short of agony when you have a dirty diaper and I have to follow behind you closely. But our steps have never been so clean. Then again, my pockets have never been so disgusting.

You still love to dance. You couldn't care less about TV, but when music comes on, whether it's the musical guest on my DVR playback of "Saturday Night Live" or the good singers on "American Idol" or even a funky iPod commercial, you stop what you're doing and stare at the screen while you bounce and spin in circles. I've tried to get it on video numerous times, but you've figured out that you can watch yourself on the camera. So once you realize I'm taping, you walk over and sit in my lap, waiting for the Allison show to start. The playback is always better than the real thing because you keep dancing while watching yourself dance. If only I could get THAT on video.

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Last year at this time, I remember looking forward to the day you could walk and talk and run around independently and form your own thoughts and opinions, likes and dislikes.

I can still look at your face and see exactly which features of mine and which features of your father's you inherited, but those details are melting away as you are increasingly becoming your own person. Someone I feel absolutely privileged to be getting to know so completely.

It breaks my heart that I have to leave you at all most days. Watching tears stream down your face as I put on my jacket to go to work is nothing short of torture. I know that years from now, I won't be the center of your universe. There might even be times that I'll have to work to wedge myself in at all.

Which is why I never hesitate to take a few minutes to make faces at you through the back door on my way to the car. Or pick you up and carry you around when I know I probably shouldn't indulge you. Or play one more round of chase before nap time.

You may not give me a kiss every time I ask for one, but you still always let me kiss you.

I'll take it.

Love,
Mom

8 comments:

Randall @ Happy For This Moment said...

I just love those PIGTAILS! So darling!

Randall @ Happy For This Moment said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

That first picture of Ali, the one with the pigtails, is posssibly my favorite picture ever. She's adorable!!

She truly is becoming an amazing little lady, Kelley.

Christina said...

Awwww, pigtails!!! Love it!

Lioncloud said...

Does she have a favorite on Idol yet?

the plainsman said...

Cheers for the pigtails and the 1 year, 3 month letter!

Ray said...

I think this is my favorite letter yet. Kelly: "I love the way you love Allison. I mean I know that might sound silly because YOU'RE her MOTHER so of course you love her, but...you just do it so BEAUTIFULLY! It's a wonderful thing. You make me want to know love like that one day. Thank you again for sharing this with us. And thank you for being such an awesome mother."

I don't know you in person but I'm so proud of you. You're doing a hellavue job at raising this beautiful little girl. And this is such a great act of love you're doing for her; writing the emotions that are just seeping out of you. Though I know it's not hard because you're such a talented writer. I think more mothers should do this though.

I love all the photos of Alli of course. Especially the one with spaghetti all over her face. Too cute. ^o^

Well, take care.

P.S. That's an extremely bright little girl you have there. =D

Maria said...

That picture of Allison with the rings on her arms is just priceless!