Sunday, March 15, 2009

1 year, 4 months

Dear Alli,

You've officially embraced your inner hellion. And I'm surprised my eyebrows haven't turned gray from all the stress it's causing me.

Don't get me wrong, I don't want you to be the type of kid who doesn't test limits and push boundaries. It's only natural to want to see what you can get away with once in awhile. But tossing chunks of oatmeal at my face during breakfast? And laughing when a giant gob sticks to my glasses? Well, lets just say that I also control your access to animal crackers, so you may want to rethink your target.

Everything this month was a battle. Getting dressed. Changing your diaper. Reading a book. Walking upstairs. Walking downstairs. Buckling your car seat. Doing your hair. Eating. And don't get me started on Toby's proximity to your personal space. Or God forbid I want to have two minutes to myself to pee.

When you melt into a temper tantrum by violently tossing your body into a limp heap at my feet and wailing like a siren -- you know, because I stopped you from putting the tip of the orange marker in your mouth -- I try to take a deep breath and remind myself that this is a only a phase. One that will likely last until you turn into a complete ass of a teenager, but who's counting?

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Meanwhile, your grandmothers find themselves feeling strangely satisfied these days for no apparent reason. And maybe even break into an inexplicable laughing fit once in awhile.

What they don't know is that at those exact moments, you're providing their revenge.

In fact, Dad was apparently so much of a handful growing up that when we ran into his best friend's mom at the grocery store last week, she giggled watching us struggle to keep you seated in the shopping cart.

"This is the beginning of my payback," Jerry told her.

"Oh, you'd need 10 kids to even begin to scrape that surface," she said.

I've heard stories that he once coated the entire living room in fireplace soot. And threw numerous cordless phones into the pool. And lovingly called his mother "Devil Woman" as a toddler. Not to mention the times he got escorted home in a police car. Or the parties he threw that trashed the house and valuable family heirlooms.

As for me? Ask grandma about the time she got called by my elementary school principal because I was found in the woods during recess with some kids who apparently had cigarettes. Or when I almost set the house on fire trying to toast pumpkin seeds. Or my first six speeding tickets. Or when I didn't come home from an older boy's prom until the next morning.

Yeah, on second thought, I guess I can deal with a little oatmeal on my glasses.

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Dad and I tried our best to curtail your sudden urge to hit and throw things by giving you a stern "No," but our dual negative childhood karma apparently morphed to create the most adorable, charming little girl with a monster rebel streak and a premature penchants for breaking the rules. The combination is damn terrifying when I let my mind fast forward a few years.

So we decided to implement consequences for your misbehavior. The tried-and-true time out.

At first I didn't think you were old enough to comprehend punishment. But when I casually mentioned that your hair was messy while we were playing and you walked away and came back with your hairbrush, I realized you understand a lot more than I give you credit for.

Like most things when it comes to raising you, we figured out the time out rules as we went along. Now you get two warnings if you opt to partake in unacceptable behavior like throwing your toys at Toby, and the third time you have to sit on your stool facing a corner for one minute.

The inaugural time out spurred a meltdown of immeasurable proportions. Although I couldn't show it, I think I was more upset about having to discipline you than you were at the punishment. It is likely the first of many times throughout your life that you are going to hate me for enforcing rules that are intended to make you a better person, but I hope someday you'll understand that all of it is out of love.

Probably not until you have to discipline a child of your own, but by then, I'll be the one laughing.

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We had a scare at your regular checkup this month when the doctor mentioned "heart" and "abnormality" in the same sentence after holding his stethoscope to your chest.

Needless to say, my pulse quickened.

He thought he heard a murmur, which spurred a very tense few weeks for your dad and me. We felt we had been taking your health for granted, and all it took was a very small reminder to prove it.

We took you to get an ecocardiogram at the hospital, which was very difficult for you, but afterward we spontaneously stopped at a buffet for lunch -- a place your father adores and I detest -- and you immediately perked up at the sight of an endless supply of beets and tomatoes and Jello and chicken soup.

We didn't get the results of your test for a few weeks, but in that time, I came around to the idea that you might have a murmur. The thought of it didn't scare me anymore. I just watched you play and run and it sunk in that you obviously weren't affected by it -- and hopefully never would be.

At the followup appointment, your doctor provided the good news that the cardiologists didn't detect a hole in your heart, which had been the worst-case scenario. It's possible you do have a murmur, and it's something they're going to monitor in the following months, but you've proved to me in more ways than one that you really do follow your own rhythm.

It only makes sense that it would be reflected in your heart.

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But this month wasn't all bad. And I got plenty of reminders from friends with children your age that although you're a handful, there are a lot of things I never have to worry about that they do.

Like the fact that you sleep like a narcoleptic once you're in your crib. You protest mildly until we shut your door, but then it's instantly quiet and you don't peep for 12 hours. Or the fact that you have an entire mouthful of teeth and you haven't so much as whimpered about it.

There were other wonderful moments too. I have been working on the word "up" with you. Every day for four weeks, every time you reached to get UP on a bed or UP in your highchair or UP on the couch or UP on my lap or UP to see something, I emphasized the word and prompted you to say it.

Then one day, you did. You reached your little arms up to me and instead of whining, you said "BOP!'

I was speechless.

"BOP!"

So I picked you up and showered you with kisses.

You don't know it, but you lift me bop too.

Love,
Mom

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10 comments:

julie said...

She's just amazing. I love watching her grow up. It's also so cool to see what's in store for me since Shobha is exactly 6 months behind Alli. But ohdeargod please don't tell me diaper changes actually get worse. As it is I'm ready to duct tape her to the changing table everytime I need to change her. Otherwise she tries her damnedest to fling herself off the edge in wild abandon. Ugh.

Lioncloud said...

She's just learning that she's a separate being from you. And loving it.

How fondly I remember your cousin, at 3, flipping out because I peeled the banana before I handed it to him. He squeezed the banana through his fingers in rage and fell on the floor in a screaming tantrum.

Keeping you sense of humor about it all will get you ready for the teen years.

the_plainsman said...

It seems that she is beginning the terrible two's a bit early, and that is a positive, as she will be through them early; fits in with her speedy intellectual development as well. I think the reflection this month is as much about Allison and her growth, as much as how her Mom and Dad have grown into the great parents we knew you would both be.

Ps. First six speeding tickets?? LOL

LeslieAnn said...

Woman, I was totally tearing up at this: "It only makes sense that it would be reflected in your heart."

I don't know why but the way you wrote it was beautiful. :) Your daughter is so adorable.

cafechick80 said...

awe, she just gets more and more beautiful!!!

Ray said...

Awww! I loved how you ended this letter with, "You don't know it, but you lift me bop too" and you ended it with a photo of Alli going up the stairs. What a perfect ending.

I'm glad to hear that Alli doesn't have a hole in her heart, and I hope that future tests will prove that there is no murmur. Either way she's going to be fine; that little girl of yours who follows her own rhythm. ;o)

Jaclyn said...

She's growing so much!! And it's nice to know that even Perfect Lil Miss Alli has reached the temper tantrum stage just like others her age. I was beginning to think you and Jerry birthed a droid of some sort.

Ok, and not to be all...whatever...but I'm just pointing this out because I know you do these entries as much for Alli when she gets older as you do for yourself and us, but the title of this entry is about a month off.

Anonymous said...

I was only brought home by the police once...once.
-Jerry

Erica said...

The terrible two's come early thing was exactly what I thought when I read this. I remember my little brother going through that whole phase and if I remember correctly he hit them early as well. It was awhile ago but I vaguely remember him hitting a similar phase. Lovely letter as always!

novelle360 said...

Thanks Jaclyn! I just went back and checked and I've been off for three months. As I say to my co-workers who are proofing my work, good catch!