Monday, August 24, 2009

Dear Gwen: Month Sixteen

Dear Gwen,

Today you are sixteen months old.

If I had to sum up the past month in one word, that word would be: TEETH. Let me remind you of your teething history so far:

November 2008 (7 months old): cut two teeth
March 2009 (11 months old): cut two more teeth
July 2009 (15 months old): cut one tooth
August 2009 (16 months old): cut two teeth. No, three teeth. No – wait, OMG, is that a MOLAR? Cut four teeth. Four? I think so. Ummmm …. No. Actually, five.

Yes, in the last five weeks you have more than doubled the number of teeth in your mouth. To tell the truth, your teeth had been “almost there” for so damn long that we kind of … stopped checking. And then your Gramma Maureen pointed out that one of them had actually broken the surface. And then all of a sudden along came four more, including a surprise molar. And really, you haven’t been that much more crazy than your usual crazy self, so all I can say is, bring on the teeth! The more teeth you have, the more I can feed you, and heaven knows YOU LIKE TO EAT.

In other mouth-related news, your vocabulary is exploding. I try to keep a list of your words, and it’s up around 40, including various animal noises (our latest: oo-oo-ee-ee for monkey, hoo-hoo for owl, and loodle-loo for rooster). We are still working to teach you “thank you,” but it seems to be a challenging concept: while we can withhold whatever you’re asking for until we successfully coax you into saying (or signing) “please,” we aren’t mean enough to take it away again and force you to say “thank you”. All our coaxing – and praising on the random occasions when you do produce some version of “thank you”- has led to an amusing side effect, as the following dialogue illustrates:

You (are indicating that you want something)
Me: Can you say please?
You: Peez!
Me: Here you go! (Gives you whatever it is) Can you say thank you?
You: Guh-grr!

I guess you’ve decided that after someone says “thank you”, the response is “good girl”. And who am I to argue with that?

It’s been an incredibly busy month for our family, Gwen: we’ve taken two trips to Powell River and to our cabin up on Powell Lake, gone to the Vancouver Island Exhibition, and had a visit from our friend Sally. Through it all, you have been incredibly adaptable and happy. Even on the days when travel arrangements caused you to miss naps, you rolled with it: perhaps not as joyful as you would normally be, but still very manageable and very enjoyable to be with. It was such a treat to be up the lake with you on our first real family holiday: just you, me, and Dad. We put the tent on the front deck and treated it like a gigantic playpen for you, giving you a place to run around and goof off, lifejacket-free. And of course, swimming with you in the lake where I’ve been swimming since I was only a few years older than you is a joy I can’t describe.

I put you in the sling for our trip to the Vancouver Island Exhibition and I thought you were going to get whiplash, so quickly and so often did you snap your head from side to side, trying to take in every single sight. There was a LOT to see! Animals, people, clowns, buildings, horseback riders, Ferris wheels and other midway rides … the list goes on. As always, your dad and I got a kick out of seeing the event through your eyes, and we are already looking forward to next year, when you can participate a little more. (On the other hand, we are not looking forward to the fair costing three times as much when we escort someone who can point and say “want that!” to everything she sees.)

We had some friends over for a barbecue last night and one of them commented on what a great kid you were, so easygoing and low-maintenance. I nearly tripped over my tongue trying to explain to him that no, you are NOT low-maintenance; that you are never still, but are always busy trying to find the most dangerous and/or breakable and/or valuable item in your environment. Looking back at the comment, though, I can see why he said that; and in a way, it means that your dad and I are doing a good job, making it look easy. Our yard is fenced; our first storey is childproofed; we know you well, and we know how to create an environment that allows you to be low-maintenance. When we travel outside of that environment, it’s a challenge (though a worthwhile one). You’re busy, but you’re fairly predictable, and your dad and I have learned a lot about you in the past sixteen months and put that knowledge to work every day. Though your abilities are always changing, your personality stays constant: as an example, we recently learned that you’d figured out how to open the dishwasher, even when it was locked. The change in your abilities surprised us (though not much), but the fact that you desire to open the dishwasher (constantly) doesn’t surprise us one whit.

You love to "help" me make dinner, do the dishes, deal with laundry, etc. I am taking advantage of this helpfulness as much as I can, asking you to help put your toys away and so on. You are usually quite co-operative, as you are at the stage when you really enjoy putting things in other things. You are also starting to be a bit more obedient when I ask you to do things (or not to do things). You need a lot of reminding, as you enjoy the praise I give for closing the cupboard but then can't quite understand why I don't want you to open it again, but the desire to co-operate is there, and that gives us a lot of hope!

You are also very interested in imaginative play. You like to brush your hair (or mine), pretend to cook, eat, or drink, and mimick others' actions. You are very clearly just soaking up everything around you, taking it all in. Your dad and I are trying very hard to provide good examples for you, though I'm sure we do not always succeed!

I know this gets repetitive since I say it in every newsletter, but Gwen, you are just an AWESOME kid. Spending time with you is pretty much our favourite thing, followed closely by showing you off to others and sharing your brilliance with them. We are so lucky and we love you so much.


Anonymous said...

Laura, I am SO proud of you. I remember having conversations in which you were so afraid and so dubious that you would have a good relationship with your baby-to-be, afraid you'd be a bad parent, that your child would be unruly and not very nice to be around, that you would be judged... But you ARE an awesome parent, you KNOW that your hard work has helped Gwen to become her very best, and you LOVE to spend time with her... I bet everyone who gets to spend time with her does too. And by the way, OMG, the cute pigtails!


Amberism said...

Love the photos, and the pigtails!

And whoa, that's A LOT of teeth. Impressive that she's been able to keep her spirits up!


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