On Friday you turned thirty months old. That mean’s we’ve officially survived half of the Terrible Twos! Yay!
… Wait, what? You mother has just informed me that the Terrible Twos goes from age two to age four. Poop.
Well, as a silver lining, I guess this means you’re three years old if we round up. Anyways, to celebrate this milestone, your mother took you away for a girls-only weekend on the other side of the state to see Elmo Live!, a sort of Sesame Street on Ice without the ice, and visit with your friend Jade. While in Sioux Falls, you two girls went apple picking and train riding and pool swimming and had all sorts of fun as befitting a 2.5-year-old, including hogging the whole of a king-sized bed and making your mother sleep on the couch. (I, on the other hand, didn’t get to go. What did I do? I sat. In the dark. All day. How do you like that? )
I’m actually rather surprised you were so excited to see Elmo, as this month you’ve developed something of a phobia for “bug-eyed” toys. Early on in the month you had me start systematically removing toys for your room at nighttime — a toy car here, a ladybug lamp there — each time demanding that the toy be removed from your room as a prerequisite for sleep. After a week of this, I noticed that all the toys I had assembled in the spare bedroom had big buggy eyes staring at me. So when on the following day you demanded the eviction of all your Elmo toys from the bed, I asked why. “Their eyes,” you said. “I don’t like them looking at me when I sleep.” Then you demanded a tin-foil helmet and a copy of the Warren Commission Report. That’s my paranoid little nut.
Your current articulation isn’t limited to expressing the the many ways your toys creep you out, however. Oh, no. This month you continue to refine your new found loquaciousness, talking about everything and anything, without stop. For example, since the academic year has resumed for your mother and I, you’ve returned to a pretty consistent daycare schedule at the Clubhouse on the Komplexify U campus. Two months ago you would only give short, guilt-inducing lies about the cruel oppression you experienced at daycare, chained to the corner with no food or water… Man, how I miss those days.
Now I get a real-time synopsis of your day, what you did, who you did it with, who you like, who you dislike… A typical post-daycare conversation usually goes along the lines of
Me: Hi Ladybug!
You: Hi daddy! How was your day?
Me: It was fine. I had…
You: Good job. I made an art project today. With colors. Not paint colors, marker colors. And I played. Outside, mostly. I played on the teeter-totter with Diane. I like Diane. And I like Makaya. I gave a hug to Makaya. And Makaya? She gave a hug to Braxton! Braxton? She’s so silly. Braxton plays with Jacob. I don’t like Jacob. He bit me yesterday. He’s a booger. I don’t like him. Or Christian. Christian took my water away today, but Miss Amanda said “No no no Christian!” and he got a time out. And Miss Amanda? She patted me on my butt for nap time! Pat pat pat pat. That silly Miss Amanda, I wasn’t tired. I wanted to play outside. On the teeter-totter. Did I tell you I played on the teeter-totter with Diane? Where is Diane, anyway…
…and so on, for the better part of an hour.
In fact, stories like this take much longer than an hour, because you’ve added a new word to your vocabulary: Um. As in “Daddy, can I have some um um um um milk” or “Today I made a um um um um art project” or “I have to um um um um tinkle right um um um um um um now.” Whereas last month your brain was moving so fast that your mouth could barely keep up, this month the roles have reversed: your mouth is moving at Mach 5, while your brain is apparently frequently stuck in park. I have to admit, though, that I find this little quirk particularly enduring, as it happens most frequently when you are especially excited about something. For such events, your eyes are extra sparkly, your walk is extra bouncy, you shake with extra glee, and now you stutter with antici……pation. It’s so adorable to see that I completely forget that I’m essentially watching you have a synaptic short-circuit in front of me.
You’ve also added some further phraseology to your daily lexicon that serves a greater purpose than a verbal ellipsis. For example, “Good job!” Usually this comes accompanied with a thumbs-up, and often serves to acknowledge your approval of some task performed by your parents. We give you a cookie for dessert? Good job! We help you put away your toys? Good job! Daddy successfully goes potty despite numerous futile attempts to keep you out of the bathroom? Good job!
Another recent renovation has been the replacement of “yes” and “no” with “Oh yes” and “Nope.” I remember the first time I heard you use the latter phrase. It was the morning, and I was ready to get you some milk.
Me: Do you want some milk?
You: Oh yes!
Me: Do you want it cold?
Me: What did you just say?
Me: [ amused ] What?
You: [ enunciating wildly ] Nooo-puh.
Me: You know the word “nope” now?
You: Oh yes!
This month you’ve also taken a very matronly turn, playing mommy to your dollies and scurrying around making cookies. The mommy bit is especially cute. You will usually take two of your dollies from your room and set them up in the living room, and then alternate repeatedly between feeding them and sending them to bed, since (according to you) those are the only two activities babies do. (Speaking as the father of someone who was a baby, viz. you, I would add that there is in fact a third activity that babies do as a direct consequence of the previous two… maybe you’ll figure it out next month.) While you feed your dollies pretty efficiently from the bottle, it’s nap time where your maternal instincts shine. You make sure that each dolly has a pillow and a blanket, and then you lie them down on either side of you and pat their backs and rub their tummies to get them to sleep. In fact, one of our recent games has been Nap-Time-Quid-Pro-Quo, wherein first I lay down and you pat my tummy for a while so I can nap, and then we switch places, wherein I pat you according to an ever lengthening list of nap-inducing requests: “Pat my back. Now my butt. My back again. Now rub. Rub. Now, pat my tummy. Rub my tummy. Good job!” Someone knows how to relax.
Of course, when it’s just your and your dolls, you quickly become distracted by other things, and the gentle nap time pat-pat-pat turns into a social-services-investigating thunk-thunk-thunk! The first time I asked you what you were doing, you informed me that this was what Miss Amanda (your teacher at daycare) does at naptime. When I suggested that she probably didn’t thwack her charges quite so much, you added “Shhh! Babies are trying to sleep!” and thunked even harder. Then you went off in a tirade against wire hangers, and all conversation on the matter has since ceased.
You’re also fond of making cookies. This is partly in order to play with the jar of plastic cookie toys your Nana bought you last month, but mostly because your mother spend much of start of this month baking cookies with your help, where by “help” I mean “endless attempts to crawl inside a 400-degree oven to taste molten globs of cookie dough.” So when you cook your plastic cookies, you first carefully arrange them on your cookie sheet, and then put them in the “oven,” which is the little space under the coffee table in the living room. Then it’s time to wait for the cookies to bake, wherein you and I play several rounds of Roshambo.* Once the time is up — and only you seem to be able to determine this, based on some complex algorithm based the sexigestimal expansion of the current date, the position of Jupiter in the nighttime sky, and your current feelings about applesauce — you put on mommy’s oven mits and remove the cookies from the “oven” and deposit them on the coffee table while chanting “Ooo hot! Ooo hot! Ooo hot!” We then spend the next several minutes pretending to eat the cookies… well, actually, you spend those minutes actually attempting to eat the plastic cookies, and I spend them getting lots of practice utilizing the Heimlich Maneuver.
* You discovered Roshambo — or Rock, Scissors, Paper as it’s more commonly known — at this year’s state fair, where we watched the Young Adult State Championship tournament. You were fascinated by the chant “Ro! Sham! Bo! Shoot!” and the ceremonial throwing of hand signs, and immediately after started thumping your fists together and demanding best two-out-of-three competitions. Unfortunately, due to an inability to make the hand-sign for the number two, you are incapable of throwing scissors, which means your game play is seriously deficient. You’ve recently become aware of this problem, but rather than try to learn how to throw scissors, you’ve resorted to hiding your final throw and declaring you’ve won based on inspection. I am impressed by your determination to win, although I continued to be concerned by your growing Lex-Luthorfication.
Oh little Ladybug! You continue to grow and evolve into a charming and imaginative and wonderful little lady, burgeoning super-villainy notwithstanding. I am continually amazed at your articulation and ingenuity, and I can’t believe how lucky I am to be your daddy. Your are the best, little girl.
— Ba ba
See more pictures from your thirtieth month over at Flickr.