Wednesday, December 16, 2009

2 years, 1 month

Dear Alli,

So this is what the terrible twos are, huh? Demanding declarations. Temper tantrums when you don't get your way. Crying fits for little to no reason. Screaming "NO!" when I ask you a question. Refusing to eat. Throwing things in a rage. Spitting on the floor when you're mad.

Daddy calls you Kim Jong Allison.

(To help you get that reference years from now, Kim Jong Il is the nuclear power-obsessed, attention-seeking dictator of North Korea. Trust me, the comparison is hilarious.)

We're in a battle royal right now. A test of wills, patience and sometimes even strength.

You're trying to break us. You're trying to get us to give up and feed you nothing but string cheese and fruit snacks while you run around in a diaper and a hat, bouncing on the bed watching cartoons in a loop.

Some days I'd love to take the easy road and just give in to your demands. Allow you to write on the walls, throw mashed potatoes on the floor, not make you pick up your toys or treat Toby with compassion.

But then I think how horrible the world would be if Kim Jong Il was left completely unchecked. If he was able to do whatever, whenever without other leading nations attempting to keep his crazy reigned in.

Well, our house would be much the same. The chaos would be palpable.

So whenever you're tensing your entire body against me as I try my hardest to get you in your car seat, I just tell you that I know you're mad, but I'm doing it because I love you.

And it's a good thing, too. Because otherwise we would have sold you on the black market weeks ago.


Perhaps we have it harder than some parents because you're so smart.

The example that comes to mind requires a bit of background.

I've written regularly about how much you love water, but we didn't realize just how much until we got our bills the last few months. Our water use spiked so high that we assumed a pipe had burst. It was triple what we had been averaging, and when we told both of your Grandmas about it, they said we had more than filled a swimming pool. Every month.

But none of the ceilings had collapsed. The walls weren't dripping with water. The basement was dry.

We went down to the borough water authority and demanded they inspect our water meter. Surely it must be broken, we thought.

But when the rep arrived and said it wasn't spinning wildly out of control and we were on track for a similarly high bill, it forced us to take a long and hard look at our water habits.

Sure, adding you to the household has necessitated more laundry and more frequent dishwasher runs, but a swimming pool's worth? On a regular basis?

Then I remembered that you've been taking two baths a day -- with the shower running because you think it's a water park. Yes, I got joy out of watching you dance around in the tub, but not if it's going to cost more than a car payment.

So we started restricting your baths, which was very hard on you. (Think smoker trying to kick the habit.)

You took to desperate measures. You tried announcing, "SHOWER TIME! YAYYYY!" instead of asking. When we changed your diaper, you'd sprint naked to the tub. And sometimes you'd throw your toys in there and tell us they were dirty.

One night when Dad told you it wasn't time yet after you asked repeatedly for a shower over and over, you got very quiet, thought a moment and changed your tactic.

"Juice, Daddy?"

He told me that in the time it took him to recap the juice and put it in the fridge, he turned around to see you dumping the liquid all over your head.

When he angrily asked what you were doing, you put the cup down and smiled.

"Shower, Daddy?"

Oh, you're smart alright.


here are very few things you like more than water, so getting you out of the tub is like trying to get a pebble out of concrete. You twist, you turn, you resist. Plus, you're slippery.

So one night a few weeks ago, Dad had a brilliant idea. He turned on your favorite song.

For months, he has been playing Owl City's "Fireflies" for you. It wasn't anything special at first, but then it turned into a game. You bounce on the bed, and when the hook hits, he swings you back and forth in the air. Over. And over. And over again.

Now it's an obsession. You ask for the "fire song." You know the lyrics. You sing "Planet Earth turns slowlyyyyy."

And even right now as I write this, you've asked "more fire songs, Mommy?" every time it comes to an end. I have to play it because we're in that room. Just our mere presence upstairs necessitates the fire song. By the time I'm done writing this, I'm sure I'll have listened to it upwards of 50 times.

So when we need you to get out of the tub, we turn on the fire song, listen to you squeal and then Dad swings you dry.

I thought having one song on incessant repeat was more than enough, so I have been very cautious not to play any one album too frequently when you're around. But lightning does strike twice. No matter how many precautions you take.

You and I drove to meet Dad for lunch a few days ago, and because it's frigid out, I had the car running before I put you in your seat. I didn't realize it at the time, but the song "Party Hard" was running from Weezer's new album.

You fell in love instantly.

Now when we're in the car, you want "the party song." Over. And over. And over again.

As much as the first few notes of those two songs makes my brain want to turn into liquid and ooze out of my ears, I love seeing the ridiculous joy it gives you. You light up when you hear them. Your entire body responds in such a way that I can't help but feel it, too.

Everyone should have a song that makes them feel that good.


Other than baths and dancing, I'd say your favorite activity is drawing. Grandma and Grandpa got you a craft table and chairs for your birthday, so I dug out a huge box of crayons and dumped it into a big plastic container and put it next to your coloring books.

That was a hit for a little while, but you much prefer blank paper and a pen.

I can't remember exactly how you got the pen, but I'm pretty sure you grabbed it off the dining room table, which has morphed into my work space where I run my business.

Dad and I have argued about the pen situation. He thinks under no circumstance should you have a tool that has such high potential to cause damage. I think you should have open access to something that encourages you to be creative.

Basically it boils down to I let you have a pen and Dad confiscates it when he comes home.

He won a few "I told you so" moments when you drew all over the couch and your pajamas, but thankfully I was able to get the marks out, giving my stance a little more ground.

Bottom line, you could spend hours drawing. You filled an entire ream of paper on both sides with swirls and circles. The concentration you pour into your creations is astounding to watch.

But once you're done with your drawing, you're done. You don't want to add one more line to it. When you had gone through all of the paper in the house, including envelopes from bill companies and the inside of cereal boxes that I had ripped open out of desperation, I suggested you go back and fill in some of the blank spaces.

It was like I had insulted your artistic integrity. I might as well have told Leonardo da Vinci to give the Mona Lisa a more intense smirk.

Being out of paper with you in the house was worse than being stranded in a desert without water. I posted a desperate plea on Facebook, and your father came home a few hours later with a huge stack of computer paper like my knight in shining armor. Screw a dozen roses. I couldn't have loved him more at that moment.

When I was relaying the story to a few coworkers at the paper that night, they suggested I take home one of the rolls of blank newsprint. When the rolls get too low to use on the presses, the guys put them in a gigantic bin near one of the loading docks to be recycled.

That morning when you woke up, I told you I had a surprise. We went downstairs, followed our usual routine of milk and one of your favorite shows, then I rolled out the newsprint and cut it to fit the size of the entire table.

Your eyes grew so wide, you just stared as if you were envisioning all of the possibilities.


Those are the little moments that make life exceptional.


But despite your being very strong-willed at the moment, I still think 2 gets a bad rap.

You are so fun right now. We're communicating better than ever before, you can occupy yourself for long stretches at a time, you love to help and you're finding your independence.

Dad routinely calls to say goodnight when I'm at work, and just this month I started asking to talk to you, too. Up until now it was kind of pointless. You couldn't really carry on your half of the conversation.

But now you're getting there. Just last night when I asked what you and Dad were doing, I never could've anticipated your answer.

"Daddy clippin' the toenails."

Apparently dad was clipping his toenails. I definitely needed to know that. The randomness of the information and the clarity with which you told me had me laughing so hard, I had to set the phone down for a second.

We talked about what you ate for dinner, how you were playing with your train set and wrapped up with lots of good nights and I lub yous.

So even though there are times I want to lock myself in a closet just to steal a quiet moment for myself away from the barrage of demands and questions and chaos that is our house filled with toys of many parts, I wouldn't ever give it up. Not one second.

Not the tantrums, the hitting or even the spitting.

You're coming into your own. The path is never easy, but the journey is what counts.

Remember that.




Jessica said...

Oh wow! She's definitely a smarty!!

Anonymous said...

Oh goodness. LOL Sorry, but that is just plain funny and I will be sharing this story with my friends tonight.

The other funny thing is that when I share your stories, I always start out with, "My friend Kelly..." Everyone wants to meet you!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful. I feel like we should get in on the ground floor before her art becomes too expensive to afford!

Ray said...

Awesome, awesome letter. I love the, "THANKS FOR THE PAPER, MOMMA" and "Daddy clippin' the toenails.";o) Allison is extremely articulate for having just turned two. Wow! And she's extremely SMART: pouring juice over her head because she knows that'll guarantee her a bath is astounding. She has you two cornered, "RUN FOR COVER!" Lol. =P

dearshobha said...

The "Juice, Daddy?" story had me rolling with laughter. I just read it to Mat and he was laughing well before I even got to the end. She's a smart cookie, that's for sure!

the_plainsman said...

Wonderfully written Kelly, you have not lost a bit in painting some great pictures with your words alone, even thou you can not exercise that gift as often here.

And I did laugh out loud at some of them. "Juice Daddy"//"Shower Daddy" and the toenails. It is great to watch her grow, too, and how besides water, she loves that drawing. It will be facinating to see where they lead. Its really cool how you two are able to look past the stereotypical two rants and see so much more than many.

Allison is truly a lucky girl.

But we knew that already.

Will be back to see the pics.

LeslieAnn said...

Wow, Allison is so cute! Can't wait for photos! I just began talking to my niece on the phone about a year ago when she was three (four now). While I can understand what she's saying she has a habit of losing interest and walking away or pulling the phone away from her mouth while she talks so I can't hear her. Children and phones are funny. :)

Fit Mama said...

I love her! I read this yesterday but was anxiously waiting for the photos. She is such a doll. And two is so much fun sometimes, yet so trying at other times!

the_plainsman said...

"Kim Jong" looks remarkably lady-like, even without the shades! great images -

Sarah said...

The "Juice Story" really just did me in. I laughed SO hard! She's such a clever girl!

I always loved covering the dining room table in paper, I especially loved resaurants that used paper "tablecloths" so my sister & I could draw on them!

I Don't Bake said...

it's reading things like this that make me hope and pray to be able to persuade my husband to give me a baby someday. You're very lucky and blessed to have such a smart, gorgeous child! (And the 2's will pass...then it will be the 3's, 4's...then skip onto the teenage years! :D)

Anonymous said...

Very nice letter!

I remember reading a post on your old xanga about how you didn't know what you were doing in a toy store, and now look at you! You've grown so much. I feel blessed that you share your struggles and triumphs with us on your blog.

I wish your family the very best this holiday season. God bless.

ǝuoʎuɐzǝɥʇ said...

Happy Holidays to you and your family, Kelly! May it be a bright one.

Mia said...

So I totally want to see a video of Alli singing to Fireflies - every time I hear I think of you saying that and I try to imagine it but I can't!

Kristin said...

I love love love the first photo.
If I could frame that and put it on my wall without it being weird, I totally would x'D
It's so beautifully done(:

Also, this post made me laugh like you wouldn't believe. By the end, my stomach hurt so bad from trying to contain myself so I didn't wake anyone up xP