Yesterday you became thirty-one months old, which in some sense was actually quite anti-climactic, in that you’ve been spending most of this month becoming, as you put it, A. BIG. GIRL.
We started this month out with a childhood milestone: your first hair cut. To say that your hair had become somewhat unmanageable after two and a half years would be something of an understatement; it would be far more accurate to describe the rat’s nest of split ends and tangles on the top of your head as a Bermuda’s Triangle for hair-care products: together you and I have whiled away many an hour trying to de-snaggle your mop of hair, only to find the brush had disappeared in the midst of it, never to be seen again. Of course, it wasn’t until your hair actually growled at me one morning that I felt it necessary to tame the beast.
Now to me, haircut = barber, but your mother would have nothing of the sort: according to her, you required a stylist. I’m not sure what kind of a style a two-year old with a propensity for tight-fitting Elmo tee-shirts and blue jeans that only go to the knees has, but apparently we need to continue to foster it. Hence, we took you to the salon and proceeded to cut your coiffure.
For the most part, you watched intently as your stylist snipped strands of your hair away, silent except for the occasional “Uh-oh!” anytime you saw some of your hair fall on the ground, although you did freak our quite a bit when she switched on the hair-dryer to finish you up. You cried and wailed and held my hands, terrified at the noise and heat and panicked that the mean lady was ruining your head. And then, moments later, it was over, and when you looked up into the mirror at your new, shorter haircut, you paused for moment… and then smiled and said “I look like a Disney princess!”
And everything was right with the world once again.
You’ve since fallen in love with your hair, and I’ve caught you more than once standing in front of the mirror in your room, brushing it back over your ears or lightly feathering the ends while grinning from ear to ear. In fact, I’ve been unable to put your hair in a pony tail at all this month, as you poo-poo any of my attempts with “No! I want my hair down! It’s Disney Princes hair! I’m a big girl now, Dad.”
“Dad.” I’m still trying to get used to that one, too.
Having decided that your mature new do required a more mature you, you’ve since gone into full campaign mode, attempting at every instance to convince your mother and I that you are now well and truly a big girl, and deserving of big girl privileges, such as increased TV rights, a later bedtime, and keys to the car.
For example, shortly after your haircut, you made the case that since you were a girl girl now, you required a big girl bed. A “big girl bed,” of course, referred to a non-crib; i.e., a bed from which you could leave if you required it. Your mom thought this was a capital idea, largely because you’d bought you a high-end convertible crib, and she wanted to get her money’s worth. Your crib in particular could be reconfigured from a crib to a day bed to a short bed to merely a headboard for another bed like some kind of upholstered Transformer. To make your “big girl bed,” all that was required was to remove the front wall off your crib, thereby allowing for ease of entrance or egress; we then replaced it with a small wooden lip to prevent you from rolling out of it in the middle of the night.
I have to admit that I was slightly against the idea, though not because I thought you were too immature for such a bed. Rather, I knew you recognized a “Get out of jail” card when you saw one — after all, it wasn’t your mother who spent most of her nights in Florida futilely trying to corral you back to your unwalled bed. And sure enough, for the first several days after unveiling your new bed, I spent each night running nocturnal interference, attempting to thwart each escape attempt as quickly as you could concoct them:
I have to go tinkle…
I need a tissue…
I don’t want Elmo in my bed…
I want my Elmo back again…
Brrr cold. I need more blankets…
Too hot. I don’t want my blankets…
I need to brush my teeth again…
I can’t sleep. It’s too dark…. Turn the light on…I can’t sleep. It’s too bright… Turn the light off…I can’t sleep. My butt hurts…I can’t sleep. My tummy hurts…
Most nights you’d eventually run out of ideas, and end up standing at the door going
I can’t sleep. I… ummmm… ummmm… I don’t know.
and would turn around and plunk yourself back in bed, defeated and exhausted; and when a lack of excuses wouldn’t keep you in bed, two staples through your footie pajamas to the foot board would.
Eventually you’ve relearned to sleep through the night,* and you’ve taken your independent streak elsewhere. Getting dressed, for example. Whereas previously you were content to merely choose your clothes, now you’re demanding to put them on yourself too. With your panties, no sweat; with your pants, sure thing; with your shirts, disaster. You simply cannot figure out how to get your heads and arms through one of the holes and have them come out of three different ones on the other side. Early on in the month, you couldn’t quite figure out which of those four openings on the shirt was the one you were supposed to get into, and frequently I’d find you uncomfortably grunting and squirming your way into one of your shirt’s sleeves and out the other, kind of like Ace Ventura working his way out of rhino.
Eventually, however, you cracked the shirt code, and now you very carefully lay your shirt out on the ground in front of you and proceed to crawl into it as if it were nothing more than a deflated pup tent. After a few days of this, you also figured out that you needed to lay the shirt down front-side down in order to ensure that the shirt ended up on you the correct way. Oddly enough, however, if upon laying out your shirt on the ground front-side up, you will grab the bottom of it and flip it over, so that it ends up both front-side down and upside-down, whereupon you get up and circumnavigate the perimeter of the shirt before getting into it again. So while it is clear you understand the basic concept of a rotation about an axis, it is also equally clear you’ve yet to master the concept of composing such rotations. So much for your promising future as an algebraist.
* Oddly enough, while you now decry the very idea of a crib to infantile for you, we all went to a charming bed-and-breakfast this month (to celebrate your mommy’s and my anniversary) run by an equally charming woman name Linda, at which you slept in a little bunk bed that was enclosed on all sides by rustic wooden slats and a latchable gate. In other words, a glorified crib. And yet for a full week after that, you’d tell me “I want to go back to Linda’s house, back to my bed” — and after of week of listening to that, I was almost convinced to cram you into an envelope and send you back there.
You’ve also taken to “big kid” activities when we play, too. For example, when we go to the park, you now demand to placed on the “big girl swing” rather than the “baby swing,” and admittedly you’ve gotten very good at remembering to hold on to the chains after an admittedly shaky start. (“Hey Dad! What’s thaaaaaaaaaaaaa!” Thunk.) Of course, your swinging is still largely paternally powered, although you’ve been trying to master pumping your legs. To help you, you’ve begun singing a ditty to yourself: “Back and forth, back and forth, everyday we’re swinging…” moving your legs, well, back and forth in time with the song. This works fantastically as long you sing in time with your swinging, but very frequently you’ll start humming a new musical flourish to the tune and will either get so sidetracked as to forget to pump at all, or will instead pump your legs the wrong way and rapidly decelerate to a halt.
You’re also very interested in playing board games now. In fact, that’s completely false: you’re very interested in the setting up of board games, but not actually in the playing of them. You like to opening up the box; you like to take out the pieces; you like to peruse the instructions; but when it comes time to sit down and play, you’ll suddenly remember a crucial bit of flossing you need to tend to, and will promptly flee the scene. In fact, the only game you’re actually willing to sit down and play is Hungry Hungry Hippos, a game whose elaborate set up is equally matched by utterly anarchic play. After several rounds of play, I’ve discovered that to you, the winner is not the player that eats the most marbles, but rather the player who eats the last one, and so intent are you one winning that at times you actually attempted to sit on my hippos while simultaneously trying to stuff the last marble into on of your hippos’ mouths, like a little wildlife vet force-feeding medicine.
You mother can’t figure out why I indulge you in such things, because while it takes on average a half hour to set up one of these games, your attention span is such that you’ll only sit down and play it for up to forty-seven seconds before excusing yourself for such exciting alternatives as rearranging your bookshelf or scouring the newspaper for Wendy’s coupons. The explanation is simple: to entice me to play, you simply come up to me, hold my hands, and say “Come on, Daddy, play with me.” And how on Earth can I say no to this face?
You’re new found maturity is also expressing itself verbally, as you continue to evolve into a fluent conversationalist. Last month, your incessant conversation could be broken down as
this month you’ve taken a more engaging mode of conversation. How example, most discussions now start with “How are you doing?” and other examples of polite small talk. Of course, you actually pronounce this as “How doodin’?” which makes it sound less like a pleasant salutation and more like a come-on from a Bronx dockworker. It’s like having a little Joey Tribbiani lurking in the house.
You’re also fond to storytelling, although less in the mode of “recounting an amusing anecdote” and more in mode of “recalling past events in detail over and over and over and over again.” For example, one night this month you awoke with the need to go potty. Although you now have a big bed and access to the upstairs potty, you merely stood at the gate at the top of the stairs and cried out “Daaaaaaddy! I have to go poooooooooootty!” repeatedly until I finally mustered myself up the steps to help out. (Of course, when I actually offered to lift you up onto the toilet, you brushed me off with an indignant “I can dood it!”) Well, for the next fortnight you would stroll on by me and strike up the following conversation.
You: What doodin?
Me: I’m reading. What are you doing?
You: Nothing…. Hey, you remember the other night?
Me: What night?
You: I had to go potty? I was standing at the stairs going “Daaaaddy! I have to go poooootty.” I cried a little too. You know what?
Me: I came up the stairs.
You: Yeah! You came up the stairs, and then I went potty. And then you know what?
Me: Ummm… you went back to bed?
You: Yeah! I went back to bed to sleep. In my big girl bed. Yeah… yeah…
Me: Good times, huh.
[ pause ]
You: What doodin?
Yeah, good times.
Speaking of “yeah,” that’s one of the new terms in your vocabulary, one your mother has made an immediate campaign of stamping out. (The correct word is “yes“.) I’m less concerned about the proper form of your affirmatives, but I too will admit to being a little anal when it comes to your vocabulary as well. In particular, I’ve been pestering you about the proper way to ask for something. Your default request usually takes the form “I want OBJECT X,” occasionally proceeded with a cursory “Dad,” “Yo,” or punch to gut. Early on I would prompt you with “And what do you say…?” to which you’d roll your eyes and say “Please.” Mature you may be, but I’m not about to have a surly teen in my house already, and I’ve refused to acquiesce to your demands unless you ask properly. The end result is that now when you want something, your request takes the form “Please Daddy, can I have OBJECT X, please!” I simply love the “Sir yes sir!” quality of the query, as if you graduated from a boot camp with Judith Martin as drill sergeant.
Yes, little Ladybug, you are certainly blossoming into a wonderful young lady. You’re smart and beautiful and funny and polite, and I sure do love you, my little big girl.
And, no, you can’t take the car out for a spin yet.
— Ba ba
See more pictures from your thirty-first month over at Flickr.