If I had a dollar for every time you said the word "Mommy" this month, Oprah would be calling and asking me for a loan.
I remember waiting so patiently for you to say anything that even remotely resembled "Ma," let alone an actual recognizable word that you correlated with me, but then it morphed into your go-to utterance. You say Mommy for EVERYTHING.
You wake up calling to me instead of crying, which, lets face it, jolts me out of sleep faster than a Taser. But then it gets out of hand. When you want something, you say Mommy. When you're excited, you say Mommy. When someone else is playing with your toys, you say Mommy in frustration. Sometimes you even call Dad Mommy, despite the fact that you can say Daddy just fine.
Or when things get really crazy, you just say it repeatedly. Over and over again. Until I want to cram a towel through one ear and out the other.
The whole thing has raised a conflict at our house. Dad says I'm giving into your every whim, so you're saying it in hopes of getting your way. I say I'm in-tune to your needs and respond quickly, so it's become a word that gets results.
The truth probably lies in the middle somewhere, but we'll all be glad when you start expanding your vocabulary again.
Frankly, I'd welcome a profanity at this point.
On the other hand, it is hilarious spending time with a child trying to learn a language.
Lets face it, Bill Cosby didn't have a successful TV show called "Kids Say the Darndest Things" for nothing. It really is a blast making fun of someone who can't pronounce things right or makes some sort of word correlation that only adults would get. I just never dreamed we'd get to make fun of you so soon.
What? Sound cruel? We wipe up your poop. Deal with it.
Anyway, every morning when I let Toby outside, I hold you up to the window and talk about some of the things going on in our back yard. We discuss the weather, the trees, the different types of flowers in bloom, and your favorite, the many birds vying for their breakfast.
Then, out of nowhere, one morning you tried saying "birdies" back to me.
When I broke down laughing, you took it as a sign of encouragement.
"BOOBIES! BOOBIES! ... BOOOOOBIES!"
Now I tell people one of our favorite pastimes is checking out boobies.
Also in the language development department, you've finally tacked on the second syllable to Toby. But, in the process, you lost the "Toe" sound, and now it sounds, well, like Debbie.
The two of you together are nothing short of ongoing entertainment. My favorite is when he steals your cookie and, in your anguish, you don't know whether to shout out Debbie, cookie or Mommy first as you chase behind him screaming.
But there is a new puppy love in your life. You've grown attached to the neighbor's black lab, Bonnie, who is outside a whole lot more now that the weather is nice. She greets you with just as much exuberance, sticking her snout through our chainlink fence to give your sticky fingers a slobbery kiss.
And, much to both of your grandmothers' dismay because you still don't have names for them, you recently attempted to say Bonnie, which came out sounding like a perfect attempt at Bobby.
So now we talk about Debbie and Bobby a lot -- your amazing sex-change dog duo.
But, even more exciting, you now understand that those are names for just those particular animals. When I took you on a walk yesterday and you noticed a dog ahead, you started to say Debbie and Bobby, but stopped yourself. Then, much to my amazement, you pointed and said, "Doggie!"
It's those little things that end up being the shining moments of my days.
Your love of books is something we both started using to our benefit this month. The only difference is that I'm smart enough to catch on to your tactic.
In addition to music, I've started to use reading to calm you down when you're upset. All I have to do is mention reading a story and you instantly stop crying and beeline for your bookshelf.
You, on the other hand, use reading to get out of going to bed.
This next part requires a bit of a back story.
I spent much of my pregnancy with you agonizing over your nursery chair. No, seriously, I was a total shit about it. Frankly, I wanted the custom upholstered rocker in the Pottery Barn Kids catalog, but because it cost half of your college education, I tried to find a suitable alternative with fewer zeros.
When I didn't have any luck and got over being a pouty brat, I settled on a perfect white rocker that will someday sit on our front porch when you no longer have a use for it.
The funny part? Although I used it numerous times a day while nursing, we never sit in it to read. In fact, it mostly goes unused except when I'm piling things on top of it to vacuum your room. Which, lets face it, is once a decade because I loath the task.
Instead, we've found a comfy spot on the floor underneath your big window. I lean against your armoire with my legs outstretched in front of me, and you hand me a book, expertly maneuver onto my lap holding Bear and Bunny, and drape your little legs over my thighs.
You are at the perfect height that I can easily kiss the top of your head and take in your little girl smell. I love reading books with you, which is why I often ignore your wry smile when you pop up instantly to grab another one when I get to the last page.
You think you're pulling one over on me, but I calculate plenty of time into your pre-nap routine to allow for almost as many books as you can carry.
Sometimes I wonder whether any of my traits got into your genetic makeup at all or if I'm just raising your father all over again.
I tell him that constantly. That it's like having two Jerrys in the house -- the original and version 2.0. Your differences end at your genders.
The latest example is your damn obsession with Christmas. Can I tell you that it's May and I've been singing "Frosty the Snowman" every day for the past three weeks?
I'm not sure why I didn't put the Christmas books away with the rest of the holiday decorations, but I'll know better next year. It feels so wrong to be reading about sleighs and hot chocolate when I just bought you swimmies for the pool.
But you love them. You love the scents of Christmas book, which happens to be a childhood favorite of mine. You love counting the Snowmen at night. You love the amazing illustrations in the Polar Express.
And Frosty? The gigantic colorful pages that depict the song lyrics? It combines MUSIC AND READING INTO ONE MIND-BLOWING EXPERIENCE.
When I made the mistake of actually singing the book, which I'm guessing is the idea, it rocked your world. Now you can't live without it. It gives your days purpose.
And, so, I am stuck miserably singing about Frosty numerous times a day as neighbors mow the lawn and boobies dart from tree to tree.
Meanwhile? Your father? He just pumps his fists in the air and says something retarded like "ONLY SEVEN MONTHS TILL CHRISTMAS!"
And I want to puke.
Speaking of puke, the fear of a pandemic nicknamed swine flu spread worldwide this month. The crazy it unleashed was aptly described by another blogger I read regularly. She said something to the effect that if you merely mention the word "sneeze," people run in the opposite direction as if the disease can be contracted through vocabulary.
Meanwhile, as your Dad and I tried to keep some levity about the situation, he came down with a horrible 24-hour stomach bug that caused him to empty the contents of his digestive system on both ends. As he hunched over the toilet, retching more loudly than I've ever heard anyone vomit in my entire life -- and that includes college -- he just kept saying, "I HAVE (puke) SWINE FLU!"
I did my very best to keep it from spreading. I quarantined him to the living room. I kept you on the second floor. I nearly emptied a can of Lysol.
But then, a few days later, as we were heading out the door, you started coughing and all of a sudden you were standing in a pile of your lunch all over the floor.
Dad and I just looked at each other terrified. We knew it wasn't a coincidence.
I ran to the store to stock up on things you would need and went in late to work that night. I can't tell you how badly I wanted to use one of my few sick days, but it turns out I needed them for myself a few days later.
In the meantime, your Dad was absolutely amazing with you. He called your doctor. He held you as you threw up all night into a bucket. He wiped your head with a cool washcloth. He watched hours of cartoons as you sat limply in his lap, unable to do anything else. He even skipped dinner because he didn't want the smell to upset you.
Later that night, when I came home, I found you in your crib and him curled up asleep on your floor. He was so afraid of you choking on your own vomit that he wanted to listen for your breathing all night.
I thought this was important to tell you because he may not write monthly letters, but he loves you beyond reason. You two have a very special bond.
To be honest, I wasn't sure what I'd write about this month. Partly because we've been incredibly busy and the year-and-a-half milestone sort of snuck up on me, but also because you're in a zone right now with your development. There aren't major changes from day to day, just little clues that your comprehension skills are constantly improving.
Take today, for example. Nothing out of the ordinary, just a comfy day at home. While we played with your barn animal sound toy, which mimics their noises quite accurately, after the cow played, you looked at me and said, "Moo."
Then, later, while we were coloring with your markers, you started handing them to me one-by-one saying "Yellow." I praised you for recognizing that you were dealing with colors, then I correctly named them as you went.
But as your 18 month letter approached, and I started taking mental notes of everything I wanted to mention, all of these things started jumping out at me.
You say "out" when you're stuck in the laundry hamper. I must say "good girl" a lot because you started praising yourself with "goo grr" when you get something right. When we ask you to sing, you say "Aaaaayyy Seeeee" over and over again as you attempt the alphabet song, mimicking the letters A and C. And when I ask you a favorable question, you nod and say "YEAH!"
But my personal favorite is when you put your hands up and say "go." I started saying "all gone" when I needed to take something away from you. Like a tiny bag of buttons you pulled from my vanity. It is the perfect explanation for a toddler. It's just gone. No more. Next adventure.
Now when your daily TV show ends, you come running to me with your hands in a shrug saying "go." When your cup is empty, when you drop something behind your crib, when Toby steals your lunch, when I move something you can't have ... I always get that same adorable combo of you telling me, "It's OK Mom, I get it. It disappeared into the fourth-dimension."
On a final note, Dad and I felt so victorious when we avoided a dependency on pacifiers, but we may have celebrated prematurely.
I dread the day the tail falls off Bunny.
I noticed it was getting rather filthy around that general area despite regular washings, and Dad finally came to the conclusion that you're not just putting it in your mouth once in awhile, you suck on it as you fall asleep. Now it is so threadbare that it has no more fluff, and tiny holes are starting to form in the fabric. Plus, the tail is hanging on by a few threads.
You can't buy them in stores anymore, but I've checked to make sure they're well stocked on eBay for an emergency purchase. I've thought about having a backup just in case, but as someone who still has her childhood teddy bear for nostalgic purposes, I understand the importance of always having the original.
I guess there's no perfect segue to wrap up this rambling letter, but YOU, my dear, are nothing if not original. I have not met another kid quite like you. You are stubborn and crazy and independent and full of boundless energy.
I wouldn't have it any other way.