Sunday, July 24, 2011

Dear Gwen: Month Thirty-Nine

Dear Gwen,

You are now thirty-nine months old. Wow!

Three continues to be an awesome age and after seeing other families at the many public events we’ve been to this month, I have to say you are pretty well-behaved. You are not a public fit-thrower (knock on wood) and for the most part you are happy and easy-going. You look at everything as an adventure, which is such a great perspective. You love to be outside and you love to learn, and we have been doing lots of each.

Your language is taking another big step forward, as you start to form sentences that are more abstract and can communicate more complex things. When we urge “use your words” we can see you working hard to express what you need or how you feel, which you are able to do very well, even when you don’t know the exact words to describe these ideas. A few days ago, you were showing some temporary tattoos on your arm to your Grandpa Keith, who in return showed you his real tattoo. Then you said, “My Uncle Dave has lots of tattoos on his arms.” Your dad and I were really impressed with this sentence: the fact that no one had mentioned Uncle Dave, and that you brought him up as being relevant to the topic at hand, was really cool. The fact that you don’t see Uncle Dave often, but were still able to remember this fact and access it when appropriate, was even more impressive.

With your expanding language skills, you and I are finding some new ways to communicate. You’ve made it clear that you don’t like it when I speak loudly to you. “I’m sad because you said something mean to me.” This exchange usually follows when I have been trying unsuccessfully to get your attention for 30-60 seconds and finally say sharply, “GWEN.” Last time this happened, I asked you what I should do instead to get your attention, and you suggested singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”. I’ll let you know next month how that goes.

One phrase I’ve heard a lot from you lately is, “Do you like it?” You show me a toy or a dance move or a piece of clothing and then ask if I like it. I usually say, “Of course I like it, do YOU like it?” or sometimes I will say, “It doesn’t matter what I think, if you like it then you should wear it/play with it/do it.” I’m not sure what the sudden need for affirmation and approval is all about. You are also obsessed with my arms – that has been going on for a while now – and more recently, with my cheeks. If I am in your presence, you are very likely to be putting serious effort into touching one or both of these areas on me. You pet my arms constantly, and when I get home from work and you run towards me with your arms open, it’s not necessarily to give me a hug – it’s to pet my arms. WEIRD. A couple of weeks ago, as you held one of my arms against your body in a big hug, you said, “Mama, I love your arm.” “Thanks, Gwen,” I said. “Is there any other part of me that you love?” “Yes, Mama. I love your other arm.”

You have brought home a ritual from daycare that I think is kind of sweet. From what I can gather, it seems to be something your caregiver does for a child who is feeling tired, sick, or upset. It’s called a “baba” and while at first glance this would appear to be a simple word for a “bottle [of milk],” in this case there is much more to the ritual. When you ask for a baba, it means you want to lie on the couch with two stuffed animals, tucked under a blanket, drinking a sippy cup of milk and watching a show. The first time you asked for one at home, I had to get you to explain all that to me, but now I’ve got it figured out. I wish I had your instinct for self-care, it sounds lovely.

You still love to help and insist on doing it constantly. The problem is, of course, that some things are one-person jobs and other things are just not safe for you to help with. When these things happen, you will scold me by saying, “That’s not helping, Mama. That’s just doing it all by yourself. That’s not sharing.” You are clearly quite put out by my selfishness.

You are pretty excited about starting preschool in the fall. I have told you that you get to start school when the leaves change colour and the apples grow on our tree. You can’t wait! I have not yet broken it to you that you won’t, in fact, get to ride on a schoolbus, but will be getting a ride from lame old Mom and Dad. I’m pretty sure you’re going to love school anyways. I hope that by the time you go to school you grow out of the “what did you do today/oh just nothing” phase, because I really want to hear about all your adventures.

Recently you have started using the big kid swing when we go to the playground, and I even give you underduck pushes. Both Dada and I are trying to teach you how to pump your legs but you haven’t quite gotten the hang of it yet. I bet you will catch on if you see some other kids doing it.

This month, we have been going to yoga together, which makes me really happy. I've been going to the same studio since I was pregnant with you, and I have fond memories of prenatal yoga. My first time there, I had to rush to the adjoining bathroom and throw up. At a much later session, I felt you move for the first time - I've always credited yoga practice for making me so tuned in and aware of my body to discern your movements. Now we are taking Kids Yoga together with the same teacher. I feel like we've come full circle. You are starting to listen to Teacher a little better than you did last time we tried yoga, and that makes me happy too.

You continue to be quite fixated on ballet and ballerina dancers. I am thinking that once Dad finds a new job and we can afford a class, I’d like to put you in gymnastics before ballet. I don’t exactly want to call you ‘clumsy’, but let’s just say you don’t pay a lot of attention to where every single one of your limbs might be at any given moment. Which leads to plenty of injuries and mishaps, to you and to other people (yesterday, for example, you punched me in the throat – completely by accident, but it still hurt like crazy). I’m hoping that something like gymnastics will get you to pay a bit more attention to your body and the way it moves, so you can get yourself a little more under control. You have already figured out how to do a somersault just by watching some other kids, so I’m pretty sure you would love it.

One more anecdote for the month. A few days ago as I was getting ready for work, the following conversation took place:
Gwen: Why do you have to go to work, Mama?
Me: I go to work so I can make money, so we can buy food and other nice things.
Gwen: I want to go to work with you, so I can make money too. I like money!
Me: Well ... um ... they don't just pay anyone who shows up. It's a little more complicated than that.
Gwen: Oh. Well, maybe when I’m bigger.

I love you so much, Gwen, and you make me laugh and make me proud every single day.



Anonymous said...

I thought I'd mention that the questions "How was your day?" and "What did you do today?" don't seem to ever elicit the type of response we hope for when asked of children of any age.

You may find it more helpful to ask Gwen's caregivers what she enjoyed or disliked that day, and then bring up specifics with Gwen when you're ready to discuss the day with her. For instance, "(Caregiver's Name) told me you were very busy building a town with blocks today! How did you do it?" might work better for you.


Kat said...

I love your other arm too.


Related Posts with Thumbnails