Saturday, December 08, 2007

Letter to Swee'pea: 22 months

Dear Swee'pea:
Today you are 22 months and one day old (sorry it's been a busy couple of days).


Shortly after I last wrote, you discovered the power of the word, "No!", the louder the better, and just like that you became a two-year-old. You'd uttered the sound before but always referring to something like snow. Until this month you just shook your head side to side to express the concept of no, and I must say that was considerably more enjoyable than your newest, most clearly enunciated word yet. For two solid weeks at least, your commitment to the word no was unwavering. In this case, no doesn't always mean no. If I offered you a banana, for example, you would respond vehemently, "No!" but if I then took the banana away, you'd respond even more vehemently, "No!" I found myself in a very delicate dance of trying to read your mind without offending your naysaying sensibilities. It was a very, very trying time. Nothing could go unprotested from putting clothes on to taking them off.

During this time, I found myself in a few standoffs with you from which I didn't know how to extract myself. One day you threw a bowl nearly full of fruit (I can't remember if it was orange or apple or grapes) on the floor and I didn't really care for that. So I got you out of your high chair and explained in a decidedly annoyed firm voice that if you were going throw food on the floor you have to pick it up. Well, you picked up a few bits then tried to go on your merry way. But I was serious.

"No," I said, "you have to pick up all the fruit."

"No!" you replied, and, pointing at me, "Mama!" you commanded.

I dug my heels in and continued to stand firm. You were going to pick up all those bits of fruit if it was the last thing I was going to do (you come by your stubbornness pretty honestly, I think). You picked up a couple of bits, to show fair play I guess, then once again stopped. You got louder and more intent on not. picking. up. any. more. fruit. We stared at each other over the fruit, waiting to see who would give. Tense moments passed. I wondered how I was going to get out of this, because you were clearly not going to pick up any more fruit. And I was in too deep to back down now. We continued to stare each other down.

Finally, I had a stroke of genius. "Swee'pea," I said, "you have to pick up this fruit because you threw it. Now, I'm going to count to three, and if you haven't picked up all the fruit by the time I reach three, I'm going to put you in your crib so you can think about all of this. Do you understand?"

You nodded though still with a defiant gleam in your eye.


I made sure to count slowly. "Oooooonnnnnneeee." And you sprung into action. You started picking up that fruit so fast your hands were a blur, and you even used both hands. I didn't even need to count two before you'd picked up all the fruit. I felt a thrill of victory and relief. Finally we could do something fun. I thanked you, and gave you a hug, my heart still pounding from the showdown, and we went and read some books. Since then I've taken a more pre-emptive approach, making sure to take your plate of food away before you get to the point of throwing it on the floor.

After a couple of weeks of solid, committed naysaying, all of a sudden, you stopped. You started using no more sparingly, and only when you meant it. Interestingly, I think this change corresponded almost exactly with your dad starting his new job, the one that allows him to spend the morning with us and drop you off at your daycare while I walk to my work. We all seem a lot happier now, especially you.


You still love to play Snack! and now you've brought your sand pail into the mix, which you constantly refer to as your blender ("nino"). If I slip up and call it a bucket, you look quizzically at me like what are you talking about? This is a blender. You usually use it for soup ("poo"), and mime pouring liquid into it, put your hand over the top, then make a loud, blender-like noise. Seeing your interest in cooking, I've been trying to think of ways to get you safely involved in cooking. So the other day I baked with you for the first time and it was hilarious. I felt like I had my own tv show, explaining each step to you, and you loved playing with the measuring cups and spoons. You also love the banana bread that resulted. I think we'll definitely start baking more together.

You are adorable with dolls and babies. At the Early Years Centre, you sometimes play with three dolls at a time, cuddling them and stroking their heads, putting them in the Bumbo chair for real babies or under the dangling toys. You kiss and nuzzle their heads and rub their bellies. It's faintly alarming just how closely you model the mothers of younger babies. At the moment it's feeling like a concerted effort to get yourself a baby sibling. You're fascinated with real babies too, and the other day you pointed to one of the pictures of me when I was pregnant with you and said, "Bebe!" I had told you a few months ago that those pictures were taken when you were in my belly, but it had been quite a while for you to remember spontaneously. I guess we'll have to see...

You've started singing songs a bit more, which is a real hoot. I think your favourite is "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." Your version goes something like this: do do do do do do (twinkle twinkle little star), na na na no na no (how I wonder what you are), ba ba ba ba ba ba (up above the world so high), ma ma ma ma ma ma (like a diamond in the sky). Mostly you sing it in a high-pitched monotone, and you always raise your arms above your head when you get to "up above."

Last weekend, we went on a horse-drawn trolley ride around downtown and the driver played Jingle Bells while we rode around, which you've sinced added to your repertoire. Your version goes: "ba ba ba ba, AY!" This month we also went to the Santa Claus parade, and although you hadn't yet heard of Santa, you loved all the tractors and trucks and when it was over you wailed for "Mo! Mo!" looking down the street in the direction from which they'd all come. Since then, your daycare has introduced you to Santa. He even came for a visit, but you, along with most of the toddlers, cried. Last night when I picked you up, your face was red and you gave a little sob when you saw me. Apparently they'd just been reading you the Night Before Christmas and the pictures of Santa scared you. So I think we won't see much more of Santa this Christmas, which is just fine with me (I'm a bit cynical of the old man in red, I think).

Nevertheless, you are getting into the spirit of the holiday and getting me into it too. You love the Christmas trees at your daycare and point them out to me almost every day. I'm hoping we'll get our own tree today and you can help me make some decorations for it. I'm more excited about this holiday season than I have been in the last twenty years at least, all because of you and your fresh excitement.


Love Always and Forever,


slouching mom said...

Another lovely letter, sin. And that boy has auburn hair, doesn't he! So rare to see someone with auburn hair -- beautiful.

(I remember Nancy Drew's hair being described as auburn.)

Mouse said...

I'm laughing about the fruit. I remember witnessing a similar stand-off between Scooter and Trillian. Scooter was just a bit older, so he finally picked up his strawberries when we got him to count them. But it was so hard not to laugh because the two of them are both so bull-headed.

flutter said...

he is just so beautiful. In spirit too.

Lisa b said...

oh my that first photo!
The battle of wits with toddlers is just terrifying - nice work there.

Jennifer said...

Oh, the showdowns! I know them well. ;)

nomotherearth said...

Great letter and photos.

if you did have a second - those nurturing qualities would be a BIG help..

Christine said...

these letter touch me every single time you post them. what a treasure of words you are creating for swee'pea!


Mad Hatter said...

i seriously need to get you and your camera near Miss M. I need this.

We had a similar stand-off in our house with Miss M and a bunch of puzzle pieces. I wished I had handled it with your grace. I've found that I CANNOT win a stand-off with my daughter. Nor can I with her father. Ugh.

cinnamon gurl said...

Mad, I would love to get my camera near Miss M!

Aliki2006 said...

His eyes are enchanting, they really are.

Another beautiful letter, c.g.--I loved every word and so will he one day.

crazymumma said...

These letters. What a lovely legacy.