Today you are 20 months old, nearly two. This month you have begun to latch onto colours and counting. You have blue ("boo") down, and seem to also use it to indicate that you're thinking about or categorizing by colour. You have also said yellow (whoawhoa) and green (dee) when prompted, but the other day when we were walking to meet your dad after work, you looked up at the sky with its lovely sunset colours spread across it (frighteningly early I may add -- I'm totally in denial about the coming winter), pointed up and said, "buhbuh." I think you must have said purple. It was amazing. I think that evening you also looked at different part of the sky and pronounced, "Boo," also accurate. At the early years centre this week, I watched you first gather all the blue balls together, then the green ones, then the yellow and red striped ones, then the blue and white striped ones, and so on.
As for counting, two is your number. You're all over the number two. When you bring out your Counting 1-2-3 book, you point at all the numbers and sing, "two two two," "two two two." So you have a little ways to go in the counting department, but I am still supremely impressed. When you see two items, you yell out, "Two two!" I am thinking I should read Jacob Two Two and the Hooded Fang again. It was one of my favourites when I was about six or seven.
Hey look! You like the swings again.
We are in the throes of a tyrannical toddlerdom. You seem to be a bit of a bipolar ruler, one minute the benevolent dictator, the next an imperious monarch sitting high on your throne while your devoted and indulgent courtiers run around beneath you like headless chickens. One minute you are give hugs and cuddles and laughing and otherwise charming us utterly, the next screaming and throwing your food on the floor if it's not to your taste and otherwise wreaking havoc. There is no doubt, however, who rules the roost in our home.
I have to say, at the risk of treason, the food-throwing thing is really annoying. You throw your food on the floor when you're finished eating (along with your plastic plate, spoon and cup), often looking right at me with an expression that says, "Yeah, I'm throwing food on the floor. Whatcha gonna do about it?" If I offer you something that isn't exactly what you want, you often bat it away or immediately squish it and drop it on the floor in disdain, looking at me like, "How dare you bring me such substandard fare?!? Just who do you think you are? This'll teach you." This is especially irritating if you have been too busy focusing on something else to answer me on whether you want pear or banana, nodding abstractly at one or the other, so I get sick of trying to get your attention and just offer you something, which you reject immediately, looking just like the personally offended medieval monarch.
Off with his head!
I suppose it's redundant to say you have very strong opinions. Lately you have occasionally refused to get out of pajamas or a dirty shirt, weeping and plaintively requesting a "nana" (literally translated as another but really meaning THAT shirt, the one I so unjustly just removed from your back. The horror.)
You also have a strangely insistent sense of direction, sobbing if we leave the house with the stroller and we don't turn towards the park with the covered bridge, playground, and, not incidentally, the ice cream shop. I've noticed if I run some errands in a loop, leaving a store and going in a different direction than the one we arrived from, you also get very upset, crying, "Deedee" (that way) and pointing in the direction we should be going in. This has also happened quite frequently in the car, although I can't figure out where you want to go, exactly. You usually calm down once I've explained a few times that I know where I'm going, we're going to the store to get milk, or we're taking a different route home and it's ok, or whatever.
This month I heard you say your name. You may have been doing this for quite a while, or it may have been your first time, who knows. But I was cuddling you after work and daycare, looking at what someone had written on my facebook wall (I know! I'm a horrible mom.) and you saw my profile image, probably my favourite picture of all time, the one where you're sleeping in my arms wearing only a diaper, and I'm looking serious and contemplative resting my head on your head, at your grandpa's house in South Africa, you exclaimed, "Mama!" and "Bebe!" and I said, "That's right. Do you know who that baby is?" And you said, "Zsa Zsa!" a pretty decent approximation of your name given your challenges with enunciation and the difficulty of your name.
Ever since you started at the new daycare centre, you have really bonded with your Sleeping Leopard, which your Auntie C got for you in Colombia.
On the charming front, sometimes we walk out to meet your daddy who walks home from the bus. We walk along and you stop to investigate just about every leaf and pebble and snail on the way. Your gait is adorable: self-confident and determined, you puff your chest out and make each footfall with authority. It is at once jaunty and officious, somehow. Anyways, as we walk, you periodically call out, "Dada!" until eventually he comes into sight, at which point you yell jubilantly, "Dada!!!" and run towards him, your little arms and legs like propellors, and the scene goes into slow motion in my mind, like a movie, complete with a dramatic and moving soundtrack (usually that song from the beach scene in Chariots of Fire), a scene where two people with a deep love are reunited after far too long. The quick and steady clipclop of your sneakers on the sidewalk is like a metronome for my heart. I can't even express how this reunion warms me. And saddens me too, that your daddy has to be away from us for so much of the weekday. You don't even get to see him in the mornings.
Yesterday we went to Grandma and Grandpa's and lazy thunder rumbled around us most of the day. Nearly every time, you'd exclaim, "Ninno," and we all tried to make sure that you weren't scared by it, that it was something fun and interesting. Last night, just before we went to bed, the storm that had been threatening all day let loose and the pitch black night sky was lit like day with lightning, and the thunder was very loud through the open windows. It was weird for me to hear it at a distance, the sound's passage to my ears uninterrupted by buildings or houses. Anyways, it was probably the strongest and longest storm we've had all summer, and you were beginning to look a little concerned. At one point, very bright lightning struck at nearly the same time as the thunder, and the power went off for a few seconds. You were sitting on a footstool between your dad's legs and it felt like we'd been struck by lightning ourselves, so strong was the adrenaline that jolted our hearts into overdrive and our arms reaching to keep you safe. The lights came back on momentarily, and you looked kind of scared, probably more by the speed of our arms than by the dark or the noise. Or maybe it was a bit of all three.
This morning we drove back home and you spent the first hour just quietly looking out the window, not saying anything and not looking like you were particularly ready for sleep. I watched you in the rearview mirror, the one on the passenger side of the car (the one that says, "Objects in mirror are closer than they appear"), and tried to figure out what you were looking at and thinking about. Were you admiring the autumn colours whizzing by in a blur? Were you observing the difference between these pastoral views and the more urban concrete views around our home? Were you watching the geese in formation, the horses frolicking and the cows chewing their cud and comparing them with the animals you see in your books? I'll never know. Eventually, your lids got heavy and I watched you settle into a peaceful sleep, finally. It is so delicious to watch you sleep, even better than the joy of watching you run or inspect a fallen leaf.
I do worry that you're becoming either a total despot or obsessive compulsive (closing doors I leave open, always on the watch to keep things in their proper place), that we're doing something wrong. But then you do something that makes it all feel right, that you are exactly who you are meant to be and we are supporting your development in the ways you require. I suspect that, as with most things, the reality is somewhere in between. Regardless, I still find myself giddy when I'm leaving work and going to pick you up at your daycare (the daycare at which you finally seem to feel comfortable after considerable heartache on both our parts). I can't get to you fast enough. And I love that I still have this excitement to see you and hug you and feel your soft little arms gaining comfort in mine.