Monday, April 25, 2011

Dear Gwen: Month Thirty-Six

Dear Gwen:

Today, you are thirty-six months old. Three whole years. You are so big and incredible and WHOLE. You are a universe unto yourself. You are a child of utter joy and abject despair. You astound me every day.

You make everyone around you laugh with your incredibly expressive face, your indomitable spirit and your unique way of looking at the world. You are starting to understand the concept of a past tense, but aren't yet expert at conjugating certain verbs, so we are likely to hear about how something is "broked" or you "falled" or that you "catched" the ball and then "goed" to bed. These tiny errors are made all the more precious by their juxtaposition with what I think is an astoundingly large vocabulary and confident sentence structure. Your language continues to be one of your strongest suits, and you sound so much like me sometimes that it takes my breath away. "That's so COOL!" you shout, or when I say, "No way," you respond with "YES way!"

Your fine motor skills have taken a big leap recently, and you are getting very interested in drawing and painting and other related pursuits. You are also a whiz at jigsaw puzzles. I gave you a new batch of wooden puzzles a couple of days ago, ones that used to be mine when I was a kid. After putting them together just once, you understood exactly where each piece went and precisely how they fit together. You blow my mind with how fast you pick those things up. When you are calm - and we work a lot on calming your turbulent emotions - you can learn just about anything, incredibly fast. You've always loved to help me in the kitchen, but now you are actually helpful, as you have the attention span and the cognitive and motor skills to do the required tasks.

You seem to have bid farewell to the Shy Phase and are now a very friendly little girl. You love to interact with other children (and adults) at the playground and elsewhere. All it takes to win your affection is for another child to agree to your excited invitation, "Wanna go play on the teeter-totter?" (Or swing, or dinosaur, or slide, or whatever else your heart fancies.) In addition to teaching you about emotional stability and the importance of calm, we also talk to you about being bossy, and how most people don't like it. Usually, all it takes is for one of us to say, "Gwen, you're being bossy," and you remember your manners. For a while, anyway.

You are still having some trouble sleeping, and seem bothered by bad dreams. Last night, you woke in tears and told me that "Dada wouldn't play the game with me." I assured you that he would play with you in the morning, and soothed you back to sleep. It makes me wonder what goes on in your mind, that these are the dreams that disturb you. I'm relieved it's not something more intangible and difficult to dispel, like monsters! For the most part, once we actually get you to sleep - which can take several tucking-in attempts - you have a good sleep and wake up happy.

This past weekend was your birthday, and Easter. I had grand plans for how much hoopla I could produce based on those two events being combined. My grand plans screeched to a halt late Friday morning, when I realized that the 'off' feeling I'd been waiting out wasn't going anywhere, and was in fact a particularly nasty bout of stomach flu. Here's how you rock: I was completely unable to move off the couch, and your dad was working at his part-time job, but you just dealt with it. Sure, the living room floor was covered with a foot-high pile of toys and books and general detritus, and sure, the only parenting I did that day was to put "Yo Gabba Gabba" on repeat and make you a peanut-butter sandwich, but you were so patient and sweet and cuddly with me when I told you I was sick and couldn't play with you. And here's what else: we never made birthday cookies, or coloured Easter eggs, or had an egg hunt, or did any of the other super-mom-type stuff I considered doing for your Easter birthday. And you didn't care one bit. You loved every minute of your birthday weekend: playing at the playground with friends, spending time with all your grandparents, opening a truly phenomenal amount of gifts. While my expectations for the weekend went sadly awry, you had the time of your life. And that is what matters.

There's a lot of uncertainty in life right now, Gwen, and in a weird way you've become my rock. It's supposed to be my job to teach you what life is all about, but I think these days I'm learning a lot more from you than you are from me. Like how to appreciate the small wonders of the world, and not get too bothered by the rest of it. Like how to remember what really matters.

Gwen, you are the most amazing daughter a mom could ask for, and I'm so glad you're my daughter. I love you a million billion fajillion ... and THREE.



Sunday, April 24, 2011


I feel terribly guilty for not having posted a birthday newsletter or slideshow or any other exciting stuff on the blog (let alone an actual post). Today is Gwen's third birthday and it also marks the first time the 24th of the month has come and gone without a newsletter. There was a lot going on this weekend: not only birthday stuff, but Easter stuff, and family visiting, and Chris working ridiculous retail hours (he got a part-time retail job), and maybe - just MAYBE - I could have found time to get the blog stuff done on top of all that, if I hadn't gone and got myself the stomach flu. I'm on Day Three of it now and frankly, I am more than ready for it to be done. I had some times today where I actually felt human for a couple of hours, but this thing is really kicking my ass. And now Chris has it too. Violently expelling everything I've ever eaten from both ends of my body at once is a little bit too much of a flashback to the days after Gwen's birth, when we all battled the Norovirus.

So far, Gwen is fine. Thank goodness. Nursing myself through this is horrible enough, but watching her go through this would be hell.

And she had a wonderful birthday with many adventures. Which I will share with you all when ... well, when I can.

This has not been much of a weekend. I think I want a do-over.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Five Things

1. Gwen can now play "I Spy". I learned this when she started playing it with me, completely out of the blue. "I spy with my little eye, something that has green leaves, and the line goes up up up to the sky." You know how people say being around children forces you to see the world in a new way? It's awesome. 2. She has added some adorably precocious words and phrases to her vocabulary. When we were out on a walk last Saturday (it was sunny! on a Saturday! HALLELUJAH!), she told me that "According to my book, woodpeckers really like those trees." She has also started saying, "Oh, shoot," when she drops something or makes a mess. That one could be a lot worse, so let's give thanks for small mercies. 3. Gwen has been waking up hellishly early recently, as in two hours prior to the alarm going off. The second time this happened, Chris nobly got up to deal with her in hopes that I could get a bit more rest, since I am the one who has to go to work and function like a human being (all without the benefit of caffeine or sugar). This was such a lovely gesture, yet it accomplished absolutely nothing because immediately Gwen started shrieking at the top of her lungs: "I WANT MAMA! I WANT DADA TO GO AWAY!" Way to break your Dad's heart, kid. 4. Skating lessons have begun. For the first several minutes of the class, she was engaged and obedient and interacting appropriately with teacher (ie, answering all her questions, correctly even!). Then we went out onto the ice and it all fell apart. The rink is enormous, with a half-dozen classes all happening at once, and we're supposed to stay in our predefined area (predefined courtesy of marker pen on the ice) and Gwen was having none of it, much preferring to explore the entire area and all the accompanying toys and equipment. Still, she did fairly well - her falls were few, and she shook them off easily. And I still have the happy memories of those first few minutes to stave off my worries about having the most hyper and distractible kid ever. 5. Gwen got her first big haircut. It looks adorable. Here are the before and after shots.
PS Last Wednesday's picture post was my 600th post. As soon as they start giving out cash prizes for random, semi-long-lived blather, let me know. It could happen any minute, I'm pretty sure.


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