Newsletter: month twenty-three

Dear Ladybug,

Yesterday you turned twenty-three months old. Though you are only a month away from the Terrible Twos, and you are thankfully still more of dork than a demon; more of a goof than a gremlin. Your mother has foolishly uttered aloud her hope that you’ll stay your sweet self all through the next year, which can only mean she jinxed it all beyond hope. Oh well.

It’s been a bit of a rough month for our family. Papa K passed away at the end of January, and although I don’t quite think you understand what that means exactly, you do have some sense that it’s a sad thing. I haven’t quite figured out how to explain it to you, and thankfully you haven’t pushed the issue too much, because whenever I try, I start to get teary eyed, and you just say “Sad” and give me a hug. Yeah, I am sad, little Ladybug, but that helps so much.

And I need to say Thank you to you too, little girl. Your Nana asked me to give the eulogy, and while I practiced it and practiced it to make sure I could read through it without falling apart too much, none of it mattered… at the service, I didn’t get past the first paragraph before I got choked up. And then you, sitting in the front pew with Mommy and your Nana and your aunts and uncle, saw you daddy being ad, and so you ran up to the front of the chapel to stay with me. And I picked you up, and you gave me a hug… and then you stayed there, in my arms, as I read through the rest of the eulogy. Whenever it got too hard to read, I just looked at you, and you smiled or giggled or hugged me back, and that gave me the oomph I needed to continue. I know I wouldn’t have gotten through that without you up there helping me, little Ladybug, and so once again, Thank you.

Sigh.

Of course, the purposes of these newsletters is not to dwell on sadness, but to celebrate your new experiences, and this month has kept you busy doing new things. For example, this month we took you sledding for the first time. Well, not sledding in the classic sense of putting on a sled and throwing off a snow-covered inclined plane in the futile hope that you’ll steer yourself away from trees or rocks or other children — we’ll get to that next winter, when you’ve got Terrible Twos aggression to work out. No, I mean “sledding” in the sense that you sat in a sled, and I dragged you all around Rapid City in some feeble bipedal Iditarod. You enjoyed it for a while (in the sense that you put up with sitting on a plastic tray in near-freezing cold while you mother demanded that you smile for picture after picture) until I spun around a corner a wee bit too fast and flung you belly-up into the snow.

On a related note, you also learned how to make snow angels this month, albeit unexpectedly.

You also played your first game of bowling this month. You went bowling with me and Mommy and Nana and Aunt Kellie at the Suncoast in Vegas at a sixty-four lane bowling alley, notable for being slightly less smoky than the casino floor itself. At first you thought bowling was the greatest thing since slice pineapples: they gave you new shoes — new shoes! — and a giant florescent orange ball to play with. Then we put in front of a magical machine that periodicaly spit up hot pink and neon green bowling balls. And then, then, we explained the basic rules of the game: throw the ball at the pins and knock ’em over! That’s right — the whole point of the game was to smash stuff down. Awesome.

In theory, that is. In practice, your little muscles could only impart so much force to your bowling ball, so that the ball would roll down the lane at a speed slightly slower than plate tectonics; indeed, the only reason the pins ever fell down was not because of the force with which the bowling ball struck them, but rather from pure exhaustion as they waited. After the first few frames, you decided that one turn was good enough, and so Mommy would step up to take your second turn and pick up the spare; by about the seventh frame, you couldn’t even be bothered to carry the ball to the lane, and would instead just fling the ball in its general direction right from your seat. In fact, when all was said and done, the bit about bowling that you liked the most was the fact that mommy let you eat french fries while you played, and that made it all worth it.

Of course, the biggest development this month: you’re potty-trained! Well, pretty close to it, at any rate. Your mommy took the task upon herself while I was gone in Las Vegas, and I have to admit that she’s been pretty successful. She owes this success to primarily two reasons. First, she bought you a Elmo potty seat that sits on top of the regular potty. One plus is that it frees you up from having to go in your little potty seat, a thing to which, paradoxically, you’ve bonded so strongly that you cannot bring yourself to desecrate it. Another plus is that it has Elmo all over it, a fact that delights you to know and end which, even more paradoxically that the potty seat, encourages you to climb upon and pee over. (On a related note, I’m already putting aside some money for your eventual schizophrenia counseling.)

Of course, the real secret is that your mother bribed you. With candy. Every time you went, your mom would give you an M&M or another candy. This worked well as motivation initially, but you very quickly figured out how to work it to your advantage: one morning you announced “Mama, tinkle!” Your mom took you to the potty and you squeezed out a couple of drops before promptly announcing “All done! Candy?” So mom gave you a piece of candy, which you greedily scarfed down before announcing “Mama, tinkle!” and repeating the entire process again, extorting your mom out of a small bad of M&Ms before she decided to change the candy policy. Now you only get immediate candy for a poop; other bathroom trips merely add candy to your after-dinner stockpile. Of course, this shouldn’t actually affect your scam, but thankfully your need for immediate gratification outweighs your ability for cold, calculated candy extortion.

That’s my girl: a sledding, bowling, tinkling little thing who knows how to cheer up her daddy. I sure love you, little Ladybug.

Ba ba

Photo album

See more pictures from your twenty-third month of existence over at Flickr.

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