Newsletter: month forty-nine

Dear Ladybug,

Just two days after your sister turned twelve months old, you turned forty-nine. (Months, of course.)   That, combined with Easter, my trips to Fort Collins and Spearfish, and the usual end of the semester insanity, has meant that you’re seriously overdue for a newsletter.   Let’s rectify that, then, shall we?

I suppose the biggest event this month, for you at least, is that now you can finally chew gum.   You’d been pestering your mom about it more or less continuously since you sprouted teeth, and eventually you wore her down and she promised that you could chew gum once you turned four.   Of course, you then promptly tricked one of your preschool teachers into giving your some gum right after that and got caught by your mother, at which point she tacked on a further month as punishment, which was a far more traumatic prison sentence to you than anything Spanish Inquisitors could have dreamed up.

Nevertheless, you successfully waited out the clock, and can now be usually found noisily smacking a stick of gum.

Of course, when you’re not chewing gum, you’re talking.   Endlessly.   Ad nauseum.   I know I’ve mentioned your chatterboxery many times before in these new letters, but the combination of your vocabulary and your imagination has meant that your verbosity has increased by order of magnitude.   You talk about your day, about your friends, about my friends, about what’s on television, about princesses, about the planets, about books, about make believe, about… anything, really.   Your like a diminutive version of the Micro Machines Man, and your mother and I get winded simply listening to you talk.   In fact, frequently when you sleep I check your neck for gills, because it seems biologically impossible for you to talk as much as you do in a single lungful of air without first evolving some alternate form of breathing apparatus.

I suspect all this loquaciousness is due in part to your blossoming imagination.   Whereas before you might be content to, say, simply hold on to your dolls or feed them a bottle, now you develop entire back-stories for them, such as just having awoken from a nap, having an allergy to dairy products, and being a secret   princess forced into hiding.   Similarly, once upon a time you were happy to play with your “food toys” by taking plastic pork chops and pretending occasionally to eat them; now you play the roles of maitre de, waitress, cook, and (in some cases) fortunate doctor who just happens to be on the spot to save Daddy from choking on a plastic pork chop.   Indeed, probably only 10% of the time we spend playing with “food toys” actually involves your food toys; most of it consists of arguing about what food is on the menu, and what my bill should be upon the completion of my meal.   You are clearly your mother’s daughter (and your mother’s mother’s granddaughter, come to think of it).

The combination of your endlessly smacking bubble gum and announcing things like “I’m so not liking that” or “I’m totally going to do that” makes it seem like you’re suddenly now fourteen than four.   Indeed, you’ve generally been more sassy of late than I’ve ever really noticed before.   It’s not the rude kind of confrontational attitude kind of sass (at least not yet, thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster), but more a sort of eye-rolling, tongue-clucking, whut-ever kind of parental ennui. As an example, the other night your mom announced that she had a “Girl’s Night” planned with some of her coworkers.

You: Can I go too?

Mom: Well, no.

You: But it’s a girls night, and I’m a girl.   Hel-lllllllooooo!

I find this sort of thing fully as hell right now, mostly because of its novelty.   However, I am getting a bit tired of the eye rolling, and so I’ve co-opted a parenting technique I learned from my mother.   Specifically, whenever you get ready to roll you eyes up into your noggin, I give you a quick flick across the tip of your nose, which snaps your eyes back like a reset button.   Thanks, Nana Schoo!

Your mother, on the other hand, is less amused by this, and she’s decided to purge the iniquity out of you through church.   She’s found a nice Lutheran congregation populated by friends of hers from work and the theater, and she’s doing her best to purify the infidel likes of you and I before the Almighty.   You quite seem to like church, mainly because you get to dress up in matching outfits with your dolls.   However, you also get a kick out of all the singing and standing and sitting that goes on during a typical service, as well as all the arts-and-crafts that goes on during Sunday School… it’s pretty much like preschool all over again, except this time you’re with your parents, and here they let you drink booze (well, wine at least).

Church is still a bit of a theological mystery to you (me too, actually).   Your first exposure to it was on Easter Sunday, and so you’ve spent some time trying to figure out how, exactly, the concepts of God, Jesus, and the Easter Bunny are correlated.   You’ve also been trying to figure out the prayer concept, which (as you attempted to explain to me) did not involve any of the deeper metaphysical aspects, but rather whether or not you’re required to wear a paper sack in order to do it properly.   I went to seminary school for four years, but I have to admit this was a query that had me stumped… until your mother explained that you made a “prayer vest” our of a grocery back and decorated it at Sunday school, and had apparently considered it to be part of the dress requirement for the act.

(Of course, I do my part to instill a healthy appreciation of science on your part as well, and it seems to be sticking.   For example, earlier in the month they cut down a lot of the trees that lined the front of Komplexify U in order to plant new ones.   Upon seeing the devastation for the first time you announced, “Dad!   They cut down the trees… but not all of them.   Only the conifer trees!   The conifers! ,” whereupon your rolled your eyes in horticultural disbelief.)

I love you, little Ladybug! And don’t you roll your eyes at me!

Ba ba

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