Today, you are thirty-three months old and you are without a doubt the most interesting child imaginable. Here are some things you have said and done lately that make me feel astounded to have you as a daughter:
(As I arrive home from work): Hey Mama! It's awesome to see you. I have something for you. (Puts a crown on my head) Now you're Princess Mama.
(After building a snowman): Hi Snowman! Happy Holidays to you. How are you today? (Shakes branch-hand.) I'm happy to meet you.
(As I arrive home from yoga): Hey, Mama's here! Hi, Mama! Do you want to come and have dinner with us? Go get your bib, then! It's all ready!
I think you have been a much more enjoyable person this past month, Gwen. You are still whiny and demanding at times, but this miraculous thing happened one day and the heavens opened up and filled your heart with knowledge and the following conversation took place:
Gwen: I WANT MY MILK!
Mama: What are you missing?
Gwen: My manners.
Mama: What are you missing?
Gwen: My manners.
Mama (awed): Yes ... do you want to try again?
Gwen: Mama, can I have my milk please?
Mama: OH YES YOU CAN!
So now some variation of that conversation takes place a thousand times a day, but it is still worlds and worlds better than the previous demands, which were repeated often and never politely. Now when you forget your manners (nearly always), at least we know what to say to prompt you to get it right. This is immensely gratifying, and along with your new transition from "Hey" to "Excuse me", almost has you sounding like a human being. It's a real treat to see these little habits sinking in.
The one verbal habit we haven't figured out how to address yet is the whiny, "I don't WAAAANNNNNT to," or its twin, "But I WAAAANNNNNT to." In your world, this stands as a valid response to any command we issue or any demand we decline to meet. Logic is irrelevant in the face of these discussions, to wit: "I'm sorry, Gwen, we don't have any bananas," is met with "But I WAAAANNNNNT one." Repeated explanations of the utter lack of bananas only cause you to repeat your point with increasing volume and decreasing emotional stability. Or, if I say "Listen to Mama, please," you respond, "But I don't WAAAANNNNNT to." Barring long existential discussions about how we all must do things we don't want to do, I'm not sure how to deal with this problem yet.
You had a great Christmas this year, Gwen. On Christmas Eve, you dressed as an angel and took part in our church's pageant. At one point, the kindly narrator told about the shepherds hearing heavenly music from the angel choir. And then you burst into song. "Laaa, laa laaa laaaa la laa," you sang sweetly (and mostly tunelessly) from your vantage point near baby Jesus. It. Was. AWESOME. On Christmas morning, unlike every other kid in the world, you didn't really want to go downstairs to see what Santa had left. Instead of feeling excited, you felt quite shy and timid, and it took a lot of coaxing to get you to come down. You told us you would rather just have a time-out on the stairs. It just goes to show that you can still surprise me, Gwen.
Shortly after Christmas, we spent a harrowing but ultimately successful four days potty-training you. I predicted that you would love the independence brought by this step, and I was right. Nowadays when you have to go potty, you jump up from whatever you are doing and say, "I have to go potty!" Then when I jump up to come with you, you say, "NO, Mama, I do it all by myself! You go away!" And then, most maddening of all, you won't proceed on your path to the potty UNTIL I SIT BACK ON THE COUCH and make it clear that I have no intention to follow you. Meanwhile, convinced that your bladder is about to burst, I'm shouting, "RUN, Gwen! Run to the potty! GO!" But go you shall not until you are sure you can go alone.
On the other hand, it seems that sometimes you do want company while you're doing your business. Last week, you came out of your room in the morning and came into our bed for a brief snuggle before deciding, as is typical for you, that snuggling is boring. You then went into the bathroom, grabbed your potty, and brought it into our room before sitting down and ... well, doing what one does when on a potty. Right next to our bed. I ... I just can't explain that. It got us out of bed in a hurry, though.
Although you still love to watch Blue's Clues, you have now added Backyardigans to your TV-on-DVD repertoire. Your dad and I are really grateful to have something new to watch, and we love the music and the imaginary play modelled by this show. You have picked up a lot of sayings from the characters, like "Oh, for goodness' sake," and "Here goes nothing!" One thing I'm not a fan of in the show is that at the end of every episode, the characters all discuss going to someone's house for a snack. And you, like every other TV viewer out there, think that sounds like a good idea so you ask for a snack too. Regardless of the fact that you may have finished breakfast 30 seconds earlier, or that dinner is only a few minutes away, or that YOU ARE ACTUALLY CURRENTLY EATING WHILE YOU'RE WATCHING THE SHOW. No, you will insist, using the same phrases that the characters use, that you are hungry and need a snack. And oh, how hard done by you are when we do not agree!
We recently started your third round of swimming lessons - Sea Turtles. You are really enjoying your time at the pool and it's fascinating to me to see how competent you are becoming. I haven't actually taken you swimming since you finished your last round of lessons over a year ago, so you are a totally different kid now from who you were then. You are pretty fearless, which is no surprise, and it doesn't faze you too much when you get a mouthful of water. At our last lesson I had the awesome experience of watching you finally "get" how to blow bubbles. I know your Dad and I have been modelling this to you for years, in the pool or at the lake or in the bathtub, and it FINALLY clicked! It was so neat to watch your eyes light up as you blew those bubbles - you were so proud. I'm really glad that you are happy and confident in the water, and I PROMISE to take you to the pool more often.
Well, that's it for this month, Gwen. As always, I love you a million billion kajillion (and two) and look forward to what the next month will bring.