Yesterday you turned nineteen months old. Cue the angelic choir music:
Or rather, cue the Banana song!
Oh wait, we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
Upon rereading your last newsletter, one might erroneously come to the conclusion that you had become a little hellspawn, a foolish misconception the untrained reader might have deduced based solely on the fact that I might have used those exact words. Yes, you are more feisty and contradictory now than, say, six months ago, and yes, it is a bit more of a burden keeping up with you. But I would be lying if I said that you weren’t the coolest, smartest, funniest little girl I know, and I sure do like spending time with you. So let’s focus on those things this time ’round.
You sure are cool, little Ladybug. I mentioned last month how you’ve taken to choosing your daily threads, but this month you’ve also discovered the joy of accessorizing. No, I’m not talking about about choosing just the right sunglasses and sunhat and bracelets and necklaces to wear to complement your fall colors, although let’s be honest: you do do that. No, I’m talking about stickers. No outfit it complete without di-dahs. You require at least one sticker per outfit, although placement is somewhat optional. Some days we’ll hide a happy-face sticker on your shin, and I’ll catch you stealing a peek at it from time to time. Other days, we’ll affix two ladybug stickers to the backs of both hands, so that you may gaze lovingly upon them all day long. In extreme cases you will be so covered in stickers — stickers on both hands, on both knees, on both cheeks, inside your belly button, and so forth — that you resemble less a little girl and more a bipedal version of NASCAR.
You’ve also become quite the hair fashionista. Previously in the mornings, I’d pull your hair up into a single pony tail on the top of your head in what your mom uncharmingly refers to as “the Palm Tree.” The design was chosen partly for its ease and partly for its utility in keeping your hair out of your eyes, but mostly because it’s the only style I know how to do given your tendency to squirm and wiggle and scream bloody murder when someone comes at you with a brush. Yet everyday when I pick you up from daycare, you are adorned in a new hair design: pigtails with a zigzag part, cornrows, French braids, loop-de-loops, you name it. It turns out that one of your teachers, Miss Iris, is an artiste follicular, and through some strange combination of soothing talk, graceful hand movements, and powerful sedatives, she’s able to get you to sit still long enough to transform your brown mop of curls from its functional, if not entirely flattering, incarnation into a work of expressionist mammalian art.
The downside of this that, while you look cute as hell all the time now, you actually expect me to be able to said results every morning. The upside, though, is that I’m now more than willing to try to fix your hair up, even if ends up with 2-and-a-half pigtails sticking out at oblique angles from your noggin — if it comes out bad, Miss Iris will wipe out all traces of it before the day is through. If only Miss Iris could whip out all traces of the Banana song… which we’ll get to.
One of the things I’ve noticed this month is that you’ve got the memory of an elephant. You remember everything. One of the most endearing displays of your memorific skills is watching Blue’s Clues, since you learned all the songs and even sing back to Steve and Blue in the TV:
Steve: To play Blue’s Clues we have to find a….
Ladybug: Paw paw!
Steve: A paw print? Right! And that’s our first…
Steve: A clue? Then we stick it in our notebook ’cause they’re….
Ladybug: Buh buhs, buh buhs! (Makes flashy hand signs)
Steve: Blue’s clues, Blues clues…. You know what to do! Sit down in our Thinking Chair and…
Ladybug: Tuh tuh tuh! (Places here hands on her cheeks and nods her head.)
Of course, your memory isn’t reserved just for multimedia singalongs. For example, I might mention offhandedly at 6 in the morning that we’ll go to the swings later in a foolhardy attempt to motivate you to get dressed. Afterwards we’ll play with your toys and color with your markers and watch Blue’s Clues, and I’ll send you off to daycare. Then when 5 in the afternoon rolls around and I come to fetch you, the first words out of your mouth are not Daddy! or Good to see you! but Swings? Swings? Swings? which indicates not only the acuteness of your long-term memory, but also my lamentable place on your list of priorities. You’ve also figured out that food, the marvelous treat that it is, is not magically produced by us, your parents, but is in fact stored in strategic places throughout the house, and your ability to memorize both the locations of said foodstuffs and the duration of time it takes for me to, say, run outside to throw away a trash bag, has lead to numerous events like this:
In an effort to help expand your creativity that doesn’t involve breaking-and-entering on your part, we’ve been trying to experiment with art and drawing. We started you out with magic finger paints and magic paper (magic in that the paint only shows up on the paper), but that wasn’t wholly satisfying for either of us. For your part, you tend to scoop up all of the available finger paints in a single glob and spread it out partly on the paper and mostly on your hands and face, an outcome that frustrates you immensely. For my part, it requires that I set up a designated paint area and then set out the paint trough and the coloring books and the paper, only to have you put the bulk of the paint on yourself in the first thirty seconds, and then huff off to do something else. A far more satisfying experience are your bathtub crayons, which allow you to draw all over the bath tub and your bath toys. You will happily spend hours in the bath, coloring along the sides of the tube, the floor of the tub, the faucet, and even your tummy and legs, until finally your fingers are so pruny that they actually absorb the crayon into your skin.
We also bought you a small chalkboard on a plastic easel. You draw and color with ambidextrous flair, scrawling zigzags of reds and oranges and yellows* across the slate. When completely satisfied with your work, you take the eraser to it and start afresh. I thought it’d be an easier out-of-bathtub artistic experience for us, but unfortunately for me, the chalkboard requires just as much supervision, for although you don’t really attempt to draw with the chalk on non-slate surfaces, you do attempt to stick the chalk sticks in your mouth, ears and nose on a pretty regular basis, falsely assuming them to be candy, kleenex, or Q-tips, respectively. Your creativity is through the roof; your common sense, not so much.
* It’s worth noting that, despite watching the “Rainbow” episode of Signing Times almost every day last month, and despite knowing the words and the signs for the standard prismatic suite of colors, you persist in thinking that everything is red. “What color is this banana?” “Red.” “No, it’s yellow.” “Yeah-yo.” “Yeah, yellow! So what color is it?” “Red.” I like to chalk up your monochramatically rosy worldview up to a healthy dose of optimism, as this option is significantly more appealing than the alternative of staggering color-blindness.
You are a happy and giggly little girl. When I close my eyes and think of you, I see you with your eyes tightly closed, with your nose scrunched up and you smiling your big, silly grin with your mouth full of sharp little piranha teeth, and it makes me smile. You love to play hide-n-seek, although lately it has devolved into a curious variation in which you hide directly behind me so that, as I turn to the left or the right, you scrunch down and remain out of my field of version. It would actually be a very successful ninja tactic if it wasn’t for the fact that you spend most of the time giggling spastically at how very clever you are.
This month you also discovered Yo Gabba Gabba, and life has not been the same since. Ostensibly a program aimed to teach kids wholesome life lessons through singing and dancing, the typical Yo Gabba Gabba episode looks like a Dee-Lite music video directed by Sid and Marty Krofft, or what Sesame Street would be if the Children’s Television Workshop was staffed not by professional educators, but by ravers and club kids. Each episode has DJ Lance Rock, a really skinny dude in an improbably bright orange running suit and impossibly bright white teeth, spending time behind the world’s largest diorama and playing Almighty Creator God to four miniature monsters (Muno and Foofa and Brobee and Toodee) and a robot (Plex) that live in the diorama and, occasionally, inside the DJ’s big-ass circa-80s boom box. Sounds weird? You have no idea. Yo Gabba Gabba makes about as much sense as this picture:
…which, oddly enough, is exactly what it would look like if you were being swallowed alive by Foofa.
But what Yo Gabba Gabba lacks in, say, metaphysical coherency or, say, basic sobriety, it makes up for in frickin’ awesome music. Big, bass-thumping techno songs consisting almost entirely of a single chorus so virally catchy that merely being within the same building in which Yo Gabba Gabba is being broadcast — even if only on a twenty-year old black-and-white television encased in a block of concrete buried under the building’s foundations — will ensure that you’ll be singing “Party in my tummy” for the next two weeks.
For you though, it’s Banana, a reggae song sung by the Aggrolites that uses the word “banana” probably three hundred times during its two-minute duration. (Really! The song starts out: Banana! Banana! Banaaaaaana! Ripe and green banana! Everybody wants a banana! left to the right, banana! Children like a banana! Me? I like a banana! … and so on.) Every song we sing eventually turns into Banana, since at some point during singing you will bust out your reggae dance and start singing Ba-baa! Ba-baa! Baaaaa-baaa! and signing “banana” to the rhythm in your head. Everytime I sit down at the computer, you plunker down in my lap and zip over to YouTube to download Banana video clips. Anytime the TV turns on, you start to reggae dance and chant Ba-baa, as if to cast a spell on the TV and force it to show Aggrolite videos. All conversation with you takes the form
Me: Hi, Ladybug, how are you!
You: Ba-baa! Ba-baa! Baaaaaa-bah!
In Europe, all paths may lead to Rome, but in the Komplexify house, they lead to Bananas.
But I love to sing Bananas with you, or any of the other silly songs and dances you’ve picked up from daycare or Gabbaland. Because when it comes down to it, you are just the damnedest bestest thing ever, and I’m so happy that you’re my little girl, as feisty and smart and goofy as you are. High five, kiddo!
— Ba ba (not banana)
See more pictures from your nineteenth month of existence over at Flickr.