Sunday, May 24, 2009

Dear Gwen: Month Thirteen

Dear Gwen,

Today you turn thirteen months old. It feels like an unimportant number - most likely, anyone other than a parent would wonder why I don't just say you're "a year old" rather than making a point of calling you thirteen months. But it doesn't feel unimportant to me. From what I've seen and read, the months between 12 and 18 are full of gigantic changes, so it seems even more important to keep track of what you're up to.
The changes are starting already. You are now officially a toddler. We haven't seen you crawl in about a week. I'm waiting for the moment you discover you can run. I put you in proper running shoes a couple of weeks ago - Robeez just don't do it for playing outside - and I was thrilled to see that you had absolutely no problem walking with them on. It took you just a few minutes to realize that you had to pick your feet up a little bit more to make sure the rubber soles didn't grab onto the floor, but once you mastered that there was no turning back. You are quite comfortable walking outside as well, and we even went for a little stroll around the block. The only place you don't like to walk is our lawn.
stand there, yes. walk there, no.
You have a gigantic list of words and are constantly working on learning more. Now, I suppose different parents have different definitions of what it means to 'know' a word, so I'd better explain mine. In my opinion, you don't officially know a word until you use it in the appropriate context without prompting. For example, in the past few days you've started saying both "bus" and "ball". However, you only say "bus" when you are mimicking me, whereas I've seen you walk across the room, pick up your ball, hold it gleefully in the air, and declare "ba!". So in my opinion, you know the word ball but not the word bus.

Here is the list of words you do know and use with varying regularity:
Bye-Bye
Hello (especially while miming holding a phone to your ear; you do this whenever you see or hear a phone)
Hi
No
Yuh (yeah)
Uh-oh
Moo
Baa
Bow-wow
Up
Ball

Your signs are: more, please, eat, and sometimes milk. However, sometimes the "milk" sign actually means "hold my hand", and sometimes "more" means "I want something, let's play the game where you try and guess what it is!"

I have to comment specifically on your use of the word "no", with which I have a love-hate relationship. You use this word fairly often, but I think there is a mixup in its meaning for you. You say it whenever you are doing, or are about to do, something you aren't supposed to. It's obvious that you strongly associate certain misbehaviours with the use of the word "no", just as you associate the word "bye-bye" with people leaving. It's somewhat handy, because when I hear you say "no" I know I have to immediately investigate what you're doing. But it's also frustrating, because it's almost as if you believe "no" is the word for the act of throwing food on the floor, and you can be found merrily flinging brocolli and chicken and rice hither and yon while repeating "no, no, no" to punctuate the landings.
of course, as revenge for this annoyance I can and will post pictures of your naked bum on the Internet.
Speaking of food: you're a big fan. It seems you have inherited your father's appetite and your mother's lack of patience. You recently spent a day with your grandparents, who happily indulged your every request for more. When they gave me the list at the end of the day of everything you'd eaten, I was convinced you had a hollow leg. I don't know where you put it all. Your ability to mooch food - or should I say, your inability to let anyone else eat in your presence without sharing - has actually helped my weight loss efforts, as it means I only eat at mealtimes and only healthy foods that I don't mind you eating.

In addition to the aforementioned habit of throwing your food on the floor, you also enjoy sticking your fingers down your throat to gag yourself - over and over and over. I have no idea why, maybe you're practicing to be bulimic. You do this so often that your dad and I both pretty much tune out the sound, and usually don't even react when we hear a choking sound from you. This, as I have explained to you countless times, has the ability to bite you in the ass if you don't cut it out. Between this and the food-flinging, two very charming behaviours, family dinners are not that pleasant. Your dad and I are both really looking forward to the day when we can teach you some manners.

This month, you discovered my drawer full of food storage containers. This has caused you a lot of delight, as cheap tupperware knock-offs are apparently far more entertaining than a living room full of actual Fisher Price. (I actually could have predicted that, but you can't tell grandparents anything.) You are in this drawer every single day, taking things out and strewing them about the floor. I don't mind so much, because despite my best intentions I am not very good at keeping that drawer organized, and now I can blame the chaos on you instead of admitting that sometimes I'm too lazy to rearrange all the small containers so I can fit the big one in underneath. There are some benefits to parenting, you know.

You seem to really enjoy music these days, and will sometimes dance and groove to the beat. Your favourite song seems to be "Head and Shoulders" and you have started to thump yourself on the chest with great enthusiasm whenever you hear a song that slightly resembles it. We think this is your attempt to do the actions. At Christmas time, your Gramma Karen and Grandpa Keith bought you a stacker toy that plays rock and roll music, and for the past five months you have had an intense fear and also an intense fascination with this toy. You would pull it off the shelf, bring it to your dad or me and place it about a foot away, then sit down in our lap and wait for us to press the button. The music startled you so much that you didn't want to press it yourself, but I guess you wanted to face your fear, because you wanted to do this over and over again. It seems you have now conquered your fear, and we're all very impressed. It's not every day you meet a toddler with an interest in self-improvement.

This month you have suddenly developed a strong affection for stuffed animals, especially your favourites: bunny, Mooey (a cow), monkey, and lamb. The bunny has become your "lovey" that you take with you to Denise's house for daycare. The secret is that sometimes I sleep with the bunny at night, so it carries my smell. It's pretty cute to watch you light up with joy when you see your bunny in the crib or I hand you the monkey during a diaper change, and you give your friends a big hug. You also really enjoy the shark puppet, which you call a "bah-bah" because we always sing the Jaws theme when we play with it.

I should mention that you are kind of a crazy kid (which is clearly not our fault, it's totally normal to teach your kids the Jaws theme). By that I mean that we sort of suspect you might be an adrenaline junkie later in life. The best way to get you to giggle uncontrollably in fits of pure joy is to grab you by the ankles and swing you around upside down. Your dad does this at least a couple of times a week, and I wouldn't even be able to watch if it weren't for the incredible joy on your face when he does it. I'm pretty sure that next year when you catch on to what all the playground equipment is for, it's going to blow your tiny mind. And just wait till you're six and I take you to an amusement park!

A mystery has been solved this month. Ever since you were about five months old, you have occasionally, intentionally bonked your face into the floor in our kitchen or living room. We always thought this was pretty weird, especially when you were teething and you would sometimes actually hurt your gums by doing this. A couple of weeks ago, I suddenly had a flash of insight: you are kissing the baby in the reflection of the laminate flooring. Aha! And also, aww! You do make some sense after all.

To contrast with that adorable story, let me tell you about the tantrums. At least once a day, you allow us a glimpse into our future, the future where you are two years old and fully vocal and ready to voice your displeasure at any opportunity. Any time we take away something you want to play with, or we don't feed you as quickly as you'd like, you Lose Your Mind. Complete with throwing your head back to wail your complaints to the ceiling. I hasten to state that I am not complaining about this, as my parents would confirm that I Had It Coming. But it bears mention in your newsletter.

Overall, you've become much less a baby and much more a little girl, which has been incredible to watch. And we know the best is still to come.

Love,
Mama

2 comments:

Chris said...

BUM!!!

yagowe said...

You do this so often that your dad and I both pretty much tune out the sound, and usually don't even react when we hear a choking sound from you.The Girl Who Cried Ralph!

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