I can't believe you're 22 months old. Your second birthday is only two months away and everyone is so excited about it that we've already started making plans.
Grandma bought you a birthday girl shirt and dress. Your great-aunt Glrrr volunteered to make the cake. Your great-grandma loves you so much that she's coming despite the disaster it turned out to be for her last year, and the rest of the family in Pennsylvania keeps asking what gifts you'd like for your special day. You always appear as if to be giving it quite a lot of thought, then talk about whatever pops into your head. Usually about something yellow or Toby.
How is it possible that the little girl who made paste out of an entire cake last year is going to be old enough to mark a second birthday?
The big changes are easy to note from month to month, but when I look back at photos from a year earlier, I have a hard time grasping that anyone could grow that much in such a short time.
Speaking of that, I'm not sure exactly how it happened, but a few mornings ago, I pulled up some old videos of you -- including smashing your birthday cake -- and we watched them for almost an hour.
You kept pointing at my laptop screen saying, "Baby!" So I had to drive home the point that it was you.
I don't think you believed me until Toby made an appearance, then you got a wry smile on your face and looked at me like, "Woa, Mom! You weren't kidding!"
You loved watching those videos and kept requesting "more, more, more" when each clip came to an end.
Fortunately, I love watching them "more, more more" too.
Everyone keeps remarking about your language skills. Other moms with kids your age can't believe you know all your colors and talk constantly about the things around you.
I've never done this before, so to me, your vocabulary isn't out of the ordinary. I expect you to say every word that comes out of my own mouth, because you always try to repeat after me, and when you don't, I prompt you to. You're fond of adding "y" on the end of words or maybe just saying the last syllable instead of the entire thing, but for the most part, everything is pretty discernable.
One of the things that impressed me the most this month is your ability to associate things in books with things in real life. Someone gave you a few small hardcover cardboard books with single items on each page with the corresponding word written underneath. You have one filled with animals, one with numbers and one with everyday objects.
We read these books constantly. Sometimes while I'm busy, I hear you in your bedroom flipping through the pages, saying the words to yourself. "Piggy. Cow. Moo. Froggy. Hop."
A lot of them Dad and I got to show you when we went to the Grange Fair a few weeks ago, but there are some animals and objects we've just never come across other than on those pages. Like the snail or octopus.
But a few days ago, while watching a cartoon, a snail joined the talking animal managerie on Super Pets or whatever the hell that show is called. They're pets. That wear capes. And sing. And rescue other animals. And one talks with a lisp. Whatever.
Anyway, you pointed to the newcomer, screamed "SNAAAAIL!" and stomped your little feet up and down in celebration.
It's so awesome when you make connections like that.
Then, just yesterday, you did it again. Sort of.
Your objects book has a kite in it. I'm not sure why, but we've never taken you to fly one. It just hasn't come up yet, I guess, so it's kind of hard explaining what a kite is without actually playing with one.
Now that the weather has gotten a little colder, socks have turned into an occasional necessity. So one afternoon while I was putting on a favorite pair of argyles, you pointed to the diamond shape and said, "KITE!"
It was so cute, I couldn't help but laugh.
I promise to buy you a kite the next time I see one at a store to clear up the confusion.
The potty training had been mostly tabled since your triumphant poop at 19 months. We help you sit on the toilet when you request it, but your interest had clearly waned a little.
Until a few weeks ago.
It must have been a Sunday morning because everyone was home and in pajamas listening to music and dancing when you stopped and said "poop." The world freezes when you say poop. We instantly drop whatever we're doing and whisk you to the toilet, undressing you as we go -- appendages flailing in every direction to accommodate such an immediate need.
As parents, it's hard not to get discouraged when nothing happens. It's like we go through all that work of unassembling and reassembling that it would be a hell of a lot easier to let you crap in your pants for the rest of your life. But diapers are expensive, and I'm cheap. So that's pretty good motivation.
Most of the time you just sit up there and smile, kick your feet and point to the water between your legs and say "dirty" because I've given you that explanation as to why you're not allowed to touch it.
When I prompt you to try, you do, but it usually ends with you getting bored and asking to get down. Then we struggle while I try to wrap a diaper back around your butt, and a few minutes later, I find you hiding behind the curtains in the dining room, squatting.
Or, once, you just squatted and peed right on the floor the second I got you down from the toilet.
TEACHING YOU TO DRIVE A CAR WILL BE EASIER.
But there are some good moments. That one particular morning when you asked to poop, we put you on the toilet and you peed! Something so triumphant, I wanted to shower you with stickers.
Which we did. We came up with a reward system on the fly, and thankfully had a stickers that you proudly moved from body part to body part. You must've liked it so much that you asked to "poop" 20 minutes later.
I figured after the last success it was just going to be a potty drill, but you peed again!
More "sticks" for you!
The successes are still rare at this point, but they're definitely the high points of our days around here.
It's still weird to be cheering for excrement, but I'll break out some pom poms if that's what it takes.
As far as some everyday moments, you're still a social butterfly. You want to say hello to everyone in sight and even force me to take detours just to waive to people on our walks.
Just yesterday at the grocery store, when a woman got in line behind us, you said "Hello" repeatedly while the cashier rang up our makings for s'mores. When she said hi back, you started telling her about Toby as if you were sharing the top secret 12 herbs and spices that go into KFC's original recipe.
Later, we went home and invited our neighbors and your best-bud Nicholas, or "Nicky," over for an impromptu fire pit party. Maybe it's because I dug out those kite socks a few days earlier, but it dawned on me during dinner that I hadn't had a s'more all summer. Or the summer before that. And damn if that isn't an injustice in America.
So you got to experience your first fire. And you were pretty good once it was really going, but before that, you kept trying to blow out the little flames while yelling "hot."
Then we kept both of you kiddos up way past your bedtime while we sat around eating flaming marshmellows, drinking wine and listening to Dad brag about his apps on his new iPod. (Although it was a great source of "your mom" jokes -- a fun addition to any campfire.)
We also watched you play on your slide in the dark, and cringed when you coated your sticky hands in sand when we realized you had opened your sandbox for the first time yourself. Awesome timing. It was like we had coated you in Fluff and thrown you on a beach.
Yeah. Take a minute and really picture that.
There wasn't enough soap in your entire shampoo bottle. And the tub has a pound of sand in the bottom of it right this very second.
But moments before that, you walked up to me, held your arms out and asked to "snuggle." Then, when I put you in my lap, you laid your head against my chest, looked up and pointed to all the "starts" in the sky. Then you sighed and said, "Inside, Mama? Night night? All done?"
You were so tired from all of your activities the past few days that you were tapped out. So I walked you around the circle in my arms so you could say goodnight to everyone, took you upstairs, power-blasted the marshmellow and sand off your skin and laid you down in your crib on your new pillow.
Bear in one arm. Bunny in the other. Pink blanket. Green blanket. A few kicks against the mattress. And the biggest smile I could ever hope for.
You're one I'll always want s'more of.