Monday, September 27, 2010

Dear Gwen: Month Twenty-Nine

Dear Gwen,
Today you are twenty-nine months and three days old.

As I write this, we are saying goodbye to an amazing summer that was packed full of adventures. Just this past month, we have visited a great number of playgrounds , had visits from both your cousins and your grandparents, and attended a Highland dance class. It's been a really fun month, and both your dad and I are looking forward to a change of pace as autumn comes.

Last month, I talked a lot about your growing imagination and your desire to tell stories. You told me another excellent one just this past weekend. It went like this:

There was a little elephant and it was stuck. The little duck came along and pulled it out. The little dog jumped over the basket. The little dog said, "woof woof woof!" The little duck said, "quack quack quack!" And the little elephant said ... what did the little elephant say? The little elephant said ... "Help, I'm stuck!"

Now that the weather has turned icky, I'm happy to say I'm starting to find more inside stuff for us to do together. I recently got to introduce you to one of my great passions, crafting - in particular, stamping. You had not napped for a few days and were absolutely fractious, driving me and your dad completely crazy with your whininess, crabbiness, demands, and just general ability to get into EVERYTHING. I got out some of my stamps and some cheap paper and we sat down together to do some stamping. When I next looked up, forty minutes had passed and you had been completely happy and completely engaged the entire time. I was thrilled! Of course, now you want to stamp all. the. time. I get it - hobbies are addictive. Honestly, I am very impressed by your attention span, so we will keep up the stamping and see if we can find some more fun crafts to do together as well.

I can't write this newsletter without talking about your potty training. You started off really strong, but things seem to be at a bit of a standstill, and I think it's because you are too damn smart. We adopted the "one candy for a pee, two candies for a poop" rule from your caregiver, Denise, and it didn't take you long to realize that if you had a tiny little pee on the potty, you'd get a candy. And then if you did the same thing ten minutes later, you'd get another candy. And then if you did the same thing ten minutes later, you'd get another candy. And if you happened to do this all right before naptime? Well, now you've bumped your nap back thirty minutes AND eaten three candies, so what are the chances you're going to go to sleep? Gwen one, parents ZERO. Yeah, it feels pretty great to get outsmarted by a two-year-old, let me tell you!

Your sleep has been a pretty big challenge lately, in fact. Not just your naps, but your nighttime sleep, and more specifically your morning sleep, has been patchy. There have been mornings when you've gotten up two solid hours before our alarm goes off, and since you are now tall enough to turn on your light - yep, you are now THREE FEET TALL - once you're up, you're up. And that means at least one of your bitter and exhausted parents needs to get up with you, not only to prevent you from destroying your room, but also because you start knocking on your door so we will come let you out. A few times you've been unhappy to wake, and have asked to come snuggle in the big bed, but this never works out. Your definition of snuggling involves a lot more kicking and talking and a lot less lying still and sleeping than I am strictly comfortable with, unfortunately.

Anyway, as mentioned above, your naps have also been absent. Last week you even missed a nap AT DENISE'S HOUSE, which never happens! The next two days you were home with me, and you didn't nap on those days either. But on Sunday, as I once again pretended to be optimistic and put you through your pre-nap routine, inspiration struck. When you told me, again, that you wanted to sleep in Mama's bed, I spun a fantastic tale about the magical ballerina princess who had visited Mama and Dada before Gwen was born, and how she had given baby Gwen this wonderful, magical bed that would always give her good dreams and help her have such wonderful sleep. As I told this story, you settled back down into your bed, pulled the covers around yourself, and started to relax. As I finished, you told me in your very emphatic voice, "That was a GOOD story, Mama! I really like that story!" I promised that I would tell it to you every single day if you wanted. And then I walked out of your room. AND THEN YOU FELL ASLEEP for the first nap in FOUR DAYS.

And lo, my ability to lie to my child suddenly became the stuff of legend.

As you can see from the picture above, you continue to be incredibly physically active. You can climb very quickly and very well - you inspire me to be both shocked and proud of your skills. You are pretty much unstoppable and are also very aware of what your limitations are: when you see a playground structure that is beyond you, you say, "Nope, that too big. I try someping else." I have to remember to stand back and let you judge things for yourself, as there have been many instances where you have climbed up and/or scrambled across structures that I didn't think you were capable of mastering. You truly amaze me.

Your behaviour has been pretty challenging lately. With the sleep interruptions, it's hard to know if you are hitting a new developmental stage or just suffering the grumpies from being overtired. I sure hope it's the latter. In the past few days, you have run off with something that belongs to me, yelling "NO!" when I asked you to bring it back, and hit me across the face and then laughed with glee when I told you that was not okay. That is not my typical Gwen. Yes, you are spirited and active, but you are also friendly and eager to please. I've never seen that kind of defiance in you, let alone the violent behaviour. If this is what the rest of "two" is going to be like, I might have to bring in a whole lot of backup. And by "backup", I mean "ice cream". For me.

There are also some awesome moments that need remembering, though. Like yesterday evening when you had been in bed for about an hour, and suddenly I heard your footsteps across the floor. Sure enough, when your dad turned on the video monitor he saw that you had turned on your light. "Crap, one of us is going to have to go up there." Your dad nominated me, and I was about to head upstairs when he said, "Wait a minute. She ... she just turned the light back off." Sure enough, you had gone to your bookshelf to fetch a book, turned the light off again, and climbed back into bed with your book. You snuggled up (in your magical bed of good dreams!) and went to sleep, no intervention necessary. That was definitely a first. Well done, Gwen.

You are changing and growing so fast that it's hard for us to keep up, and I truly wouldn't want it any other way. You amaze me every single day with your abilities and your personality. Next month's newsletter will be a big one: you will officially be two and a half years old. I can't wait to celebrate that milestone with you, my girl!


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