Friday, December 24, 2010

Dear Gwen: Month Thirty-Two

Dear Gwen,

Today you are thirty-two months old. But more to the point, you are very, very, VERY two. I don't think it is possible for a child to be MORE two than you are right now. I certainly hope I never live to see such a thing, because wow, I can't even imagine it.

I love you a million billion fajillion, and always will, but the truth is ... well, the truth is it's a whole lot easier to reflect on the profound lengths of my love for you when you are out of the room. Or asleep. When we're actually together? I am less likely to be revelling in your adorableness or intelligence and more likely to be gritting my teeth in frustration, wondering what the HELL I was thinking with this procreation business.

One of your most irritating habits is your inability or unwillingness to control your volume. You are a child who likes things how she likes them, and I get that - BELIEVE ME, I get that. But when you want to give me and/or your dad a vitally important instruction about precisely how we ought to proceed with life, is it too much to ask that you do so at a volume actually audible to humans, and with words that actually exist within our mother tongue? I would hazard a guess that you know and use regularly somewhere in the neighbourhood of 400 words, and you have no problem stringing together a sentence, so can you meet me halfway here? You either mumble in an inaudible (albeit charming) sing-song tone, or shriek wordlessly in what may as well be Klingon, for all I can understand of it. Can there be no middle ground? I have to tell you, if you insist on issuing commands in this way, they are not likely to be obeyed.

You are also getting VERY lippy. This morning, as I prompted you (for the BAZILLIONTH time) to use your manners, you responded, "Don't start, Mama. Don't start." SERIOUSLY? Are you entering teenhood already? I am SO not okay with this. There's nothing like hearing my own words come out of your "innocent" mouth - for example, yesterday I repeated my request for you to get your shoes and you responded, "I said NO, Mama," - but I can't even think of when I have used the phrase "Don't start." Although, contrary to your advice, I think I may start using it now.

Most of the time I am able to embrace your two-ness and feel strong in my faith that you won't be this way forever. But sometimes I start to wonder, with a small but uncomfortable niggling feeling, if maybe I'm Doing It Wrong. Are you actually turning into a genuine brat, a spoiled child? There are only two ways to know: time travel, and trusted friends. Since I have no access to the former, I rely on the latter to tell me if you are just a normal, manageable two-year-old or an entitled rotten in the making. So far, most people tell me you're a delight, so I carry on, for better or for worse.

Okay, but there are good times too. I love the way you construct sentences, which is not entirely correct but is completely endearing. "What that kid's name is?" is your way of asking someone's name (everyone is a kid or a baby), and "Which one I was using?" is your response when we turn off your show, meaning that you want us to put the same one on again later. You have no distinction, yet, between "he" and "she", and use them interchangeably - though you can tell me that you are a girl, while Dada is a boy. You love to have pretend conversations with a toy, or better yet, between two toys with you doing both the voices. "Hello duck, how are you?" "I'm just fine cow. How are you?" "I'm fine too." "Bye-bye, have a good day!" "You too, love you!" (I guess it's not always terrible to hear my own words coming out of a toddler's mouth.)

You are undoubtedly a bright little girl and we are routinely astounded by what comes out of your mouth. A couple of weeks ago, I asked you what you were going to dream about that night and you responded, "Constellations. A puppy constellation, a kitty constellation, and a bear constellation!" How does a two-year-old know what a constellation is? My only guess is that it must have been covered on Blue's Clues, because any topic that is covered on (the first three seasons of) Blue's Clues is a topic you are highly knowledgeable about. That is how you already know most of the planets, too.

I am absolutely certain that once you grasp the independence represented by potty training, you will be ON THAT. You have already seen the big-girl underwear in your drawer and asked to wear it, so I've started telling you that you can wear it after Christmas. "After Christmas, no more diapers!" I tell you, and you say, "No more diapers?! WOW!" Wow indeed. I'm sure you will be dressing yourself (and undressing yourself) in no time, and there are sure to be some hilarious and creative outfits in your future.

You love to sing, and have started making up your own words to songs, which is pretty hilarious. Moreover, you KNOW you are being hilarious, and you will pause right after saying a silly word, waiting for someone to respond. "Row, row, row your sock..." "Your sock?" "NO!" you say in a giggly, "I tricked you," voice. "NOT YOUR SOCK! Row, row, row your nose ..."

Your most overused phrase these days is "Can I help?", which has caused me to reflect on our vastly differing definitions of that word. See, I would define help as "to give or provide what is necessary to accomplish a task or satisfy a need; cooperate effectively with," whereas your definition seems to involve fetching and climbing up on a stool, demanding to touch whatever it is I am doing, and ignoring most of my instructions. Or even having a fit. For example:

Mama: (is making breakfast)
Gwen: Mama, can I help?
Mama: Sure! Why don't you bring your milk to the table, and then go get your bib.
Gwen: I DON'T WANT TO GET MY BIB! (Falls to the ground in paroxysms of grief.)
Mama: O.... kay, you don't have to get your bib. Never mind, I'll get it for you.
Gwen: (5 minutes of anguish)
Mama: Your breakfast is ready, Gwen! Yum, oatmeal with fruit. Here's your milk and your spoon. What do you say?
Gwen (mumbling, shooting me a dirty look): I don't want to get my bib.

So, tonight is your third Christmas Eve, one I'm sure we will all enjoy. You have really been excited about Christmas this year, and that has helped lift our spirits as your dad and I have been dealing with some difficult grown-up stuff. Thank you as always for your smiles, snuggles, and silliness. It's valuable for us to look at it all from your perspective, and know that we have what really matters: each other (and a Santa tree). The grace we say at dinner has never rung more true:

I am thankful every day for times when I can laugh and play,
Delicious food I love to eat, my warm bed where I fall asleep,
Tall trees and blue skies above, and all the people that I love.

I love you, my Gwen, and I'm sorry I sometimes lose patience with you. I really do think you are an astounding person and I'm working hard to be the mama you deserve. Merry Christmas, my big girl.


1 comment:

Cathy said...

I know what you are talking about! We are dealing with a very bossy two year old. If someone he doesn't like at the moment happens to glance his way he will shriek 'Don't look at me!' in their direction - with a glare. Pretty hard to laugh that off to strangers in the grocery line, or to Grandma..


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