Thursday, January 24, 2013

Dear Gwen: Month Fifty-Seven

Dear Gwen,
Today you are fifty-seven months old.

You have reached some very typical and famous phases this past month.  One of these is the stage of “Why?” which is best described by comedian Louis CK (NSFK due to language!).  You have always been a curious and, yes, distractible child – if I ask you to put your boots and coat on, it is likely that you will be far more interested in noticing and commenting on each of the 45 things you pass on your way to the front hall closet.  And now, now we have QUESTIONS to add to the mix!  This morning you noticed a craft tool I had borrowed from a friend.  “What is it used for?”  “How does it work?” “Can you show me?” “Why is it here?” “When did you use it?” on and on and on and ON.  Perhaps a future in investigative journalism is in order?

Another completely unsurprising stage is your obsession with weddings.  You play out wedding scenes often with your ponies and your stuffies, and are quite particular about which ones marry whom (it seems to have something to do with parity in size and colour).  Your frequent comments about weddings led to the following exchange:

Gwen: Mom, I want to marry YOU when I grow up.
Me: Well, each person can only marry one other person, and I’m already married to Dad.
Gwen: Okay, then I guess I will marry (school friend).
Me: Okay, good plan.
Gwen: And I will have ten kids.  Five boys and five girls.
Me: Great!  And will (school friend) be the dad?
Gwen: He will be the dad, but he won’t live with us.  I want to live alone with my ten kids.
Me: Wow!  You’re going to be very busy.

The other completely unsurprising phase is that of nakedness.  Though you don’t argue about the need to be completely clothed at school or other public places, you are pretty enthusiastic about just wearing undies and perhaps a shirt while at home.  On weekends, when you know we are not going out right away, you often ask, “Can I get dressed right before we leave?” and stay half-naked until then.  Well, what is a home if not a place to let it all hang out, says I, and so our living room often features a semi-clad preschooler happily playing ponies and asking endless questions about why people need to wear socks, anyway.

There have been some tough times in the past few months, though.  I wrote about your toe-chewing habit here three months ago, and since then we've encouraged you to stop.  It’s hard to guess how successful our efforts have been; clearly, not 100%, because your toes still show signs of chewing.  You have also started chewing your lip.  Your dad and I sort of had different ideas about what was causing this behaviour – I felt concerned that, like me, you are a girl with lots of nervous energy and a compulsion to “pick”; however, I wasn’t sure if I was just projecting my own habits onto you.  But last week you made a comment that perfectly articulated the problem.  You told me that your lip was hurting because you had made an owie there.  As I have done before, I told you that the only way to get it to stop hurting was to stop chewing on it.  You said, “Sometimes I forget about the hurt and I do the thing that makes it hurt.”  It took my breath away, that you articulated this so well – and it broke my heart, that you have this painful compulsion.

I think that the same compulsion finds other avenues as well, especially in those times (usually 20-90 minutes) while you are waiting to fall asleep at night.  You have wreaked a lot of destruction on your room.  We used to have a bulletin board hanging above your bed, but we had to remove it when we found several of the push pins in your bed in the morning.  You've been tearing papers, poking holes in pictures, and even picking at the paint on your walls.  I wish I knew how to help you stop before these habits become even further entrenched.  In the meantime, we just keep taking out of your room any items that we think you might destroy – your room is getting quite bare!

You have also started a short-term ballet class which are you are really enjoying.  In the back of my mind, I am seriously considering signing you up for a full-term, ten-month dance program this fall, if we can afford it and if you are ready to give your full attention to the teacher.  We have talked a couple of times lately about how you can run around and play tag and jump in the air and meet friends and talk to other kids ANY TIME, but ballet class (or piano class) is the only time you have in the WHOLE WEEK to learn ballet (or piano), so your focus should be on that.  Hopefully the message is sinking in.

Of course, there have been a lot of great times in the past month as well.  There was Christmas, and loads of gifts, and then your cousins and grandparents and auntie came to visit and see my play, and you reveled in all of it.  Piano lessons have begun again, and you have learned how to write original composition – your first piece is an ode to your beloved stuffed bunny, and the lyrics are as follows:

I love you Bun
You’re my best friend
We snuggle up
Cuddle and hug

Drawing pictures of what she wants to see and do at Disneyland.

I don't know if you can tell, but  Gwen picked that entire outfit ALL BY HERSELF.
Well, I think that’s it for this month, Gwen.  As always, I love you a million, billion, kajillion and four, and I look forward to what the next month will bring.


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