Today, you are eighteen months old. It’s a big milestone – you are now on that delightful downhill slide towards your second birthday. Also, as your dad pointed out the other day, you are halfway to being three years old. THREE! When you’re three, you’ll be going to preschool and learning how to use the potty. INCONCEIVABLE.
You have already taken quite a few steps away from babyhood. For example, we discovered back in August, shortly before our trip up the lake, that you would quite happily drink milk from one of your Rubbermaid drink boxes. We were all too happy to leave all the hard-to-clean bottles and their assorted pieces at home and break you of the bottle habit once and for all. You never put up a fuss. Shortly after that, we decided to stop giving you a drink of any kind right before bed. After all, we grownups (if we have healthy habits) don't have a big drink or meal right before bed. Why should you? Now you drink milk with your dinner, then brush your teeth and go to bed. Like some kind of KID.
And what kind of kid are you, exactly? Most parenting experts out there, and all the advice they give, seems to be based on applying some sort of label. I’ve always resisted this, not least because I don’t usually like the label that seems to fit you, my beloved daughter. But your dad has a different perspective. He thinks you are an easy child. He’s got a point: in general, you sleep well (and have been sleeping through the night for nearly a year), you are not a picky eater, you are very social and adaptable rather than getting shy in new situations or around new people, you respond well to occasional changes in your nap or bedtime schedule, and so on. But on the other hand, how can my go-go-go-Gwen be characterized as an “easy child”? There’s so much more to you than that: the determination to explore everything, even when told “No” a dozen times, the constant level of talking and activity, the intensity with which you approach pretty much everything. Maybe that’s the key: you are an intense child, which means that your joys are infectious and your laugh irresistible, but when you’re ready for dinner, WATCH OUT!
Your beloved friend Isabelle (I’belle) just turned two this week, and I had the opportunity to witness one of those famed Two-Year-Old Tantrums. Oh, Lordy. You are a spirited child, Gwen, and have never had any difficulty in expressing your displeasure swiftly and obnoxiously – but watching Isabelle confirmed that the worst is yet to come. Isabelle has been an amazing influence on you: she is an extremely affectionate little girl, and I credit her for teaching you how to give hugs and kisses, something which we all enjoy and for which your dad and I are very grateful. On the other hand – well, you clearly look up to Isabelle, and like to emulate her. And Isabelle has now entered a new stage of development, with certain behaviours with which certain phrases are associated, and I think you see where I’m going here. It’s going to be a stormy winter, is what I’m saying. We’ve seen it already, with the advent of what we call the Frowny Face. This face was first seen on October 16th, and at first it didn’t seem to have any connection to your actual mood. That, combined with the fact that it’s kind of adorable, prompted us to just giggle at it for the first day or two that it appeared. However, both the meaning of the frowny face and our response to it has now changed. One does not LAUGH at the FROWNY FACE. Not if one wants to live to tell the tale.
Knowing that your second birthday is approaching, your dad and I have decided to try learning some actual parenting tools, and specifically discipline techniques. It was high time. Up until now, we’ve kept everything you’re not allowed to touch (which, let’s face it, is about 93% of our home’s contents) on a shelf out of your reach. But you’re getting really tall, and we’re running out of shelves, and neither your dad nor I are willing to just give away all our possessions and fill our house with soft, unbreakable items that don’t cause a choking hazard. We’re a little materialistic that way. So, we are trying to establish some rules in our house, rules like “even that huge and tempting volume knob is right at eye level, please leave it alone.” So far it’s not going that well. I’m already having nightmare flash-forwards about the holiday season: you, a decorated tree, and several brightly wrapped packages in the same room. This won’t end well, I’m sure of it.