Our youngest child turned 2 this weekend, and, although I love watching her become more independent, it makes me a little sad that our family is leaving the “baby years.” For almost a decade, our household has always had a little one in the house or on the way. And, although Lilina is definitely still a baby to me, there are signs that she is growing up fast.
She is still bald, which I actually like because she still looks like a baby, but she’s doing so many big-girl things.
She walked early but didn’t talk much until the last few months. But when she finally started talking, it was full sentences. Some of her sentences included tattling on her brother: “Walsh pushed Sis;” tattling on the dog (and exaggerating): “Woof bite my boo-boo”; or telling Dad to change the TV from ESPN to a children’s show: “Daddy, no ball. Elmo!”
Many of her sentences are commands. She is like a tourist visiting a foreign country. She has mastered four or five essential verbs and uses them constantly — I want … , I need … , Read this …, This is …, See my….
For example I hear a lot of: “I want cheese.” “I want cereal.” And most importantly, “I want cake!” I also hear frequent use of “My” as in “My wa-wa,” “My baby,” “My book.” I also hear “That’s mine!”
She tells me “No Pause” when she thinks I’m turning off her favorite TV show “Yo Gabba Gabba,” a silly dance show with puppets. She hears the big kids tell us to “pause” the TV when they need to go to the bathroom. So she uses it in reverse to stop her show from being turned off.
Her fascination with the dog continues. She runs to me and says “Woof chased me.” And then yells at him “Go away Woof” when he runs after her thinking it’s a game. She knows and can say his name but has lately decided to call him, and all dogs, Woof. Clifford, her favorite fictional dog, is “Big Red Woof.”
It’s clear she will be an animal lover. She’ll take her favorite pink blanket and lie down next to the dog in front of the warm sunny window. She brings him handfuls of treats and sprinkles them around his pillow. (I follow behind scooping them up before the dog gorges.) She rubs his fur and lies next to him. The dog, who is often ignored by the other children, loves it.
A few months ago she also developed a more intense interest in Michael. For probably the first 19 months of her life I was the only one who put her to bed – she was nursing so that made sense. But lately she’s decided she wants him to put her to bed. I think she has an ulterior motive for this decision. When I put her to bed, I rock her and sing to her for maybe 10 minutes and then I put her into the crib and tell her to it’s time to go to sleep. When he puts her to bed, she totally works him over. But aren’t all daddies like that with their little girls?
She’ll try anything to postpone bedtime. She knows her Dad is serious about potty training, so when he starts her bedtime routine, she immediately says: “Need to go pee-pee! Need to gooo pee-pee.”
The lights go back on, pajamas are off, and she gets to sit on the potty for 10 minutes chatting to her father, who eventually figures it out it’s a trick and takes her off the unsullied toilet.
After the fake potty trip, she tries other conversation topics. “I want cereal,” is a favorite, even after she stuffed herself with Cheerios 20 minutes earlier. “Read Pooh,” is another request, although story time is over. She tries to get phone access – “Call Papa (her grandfather)?” Finally, she’ll get desperate. “I need my wa-wa,” is often followed by, “I need two wa-was.” Then, she’ll just start listing toys that she wants in the bedroom: “I need Big Red Woof. I need Elmo.”
When I get her out of her crib after nap or in the morning, she always wants to immediately see her brother and sister. She says, “I need my Wa-Wa. Want to see Walsh. Want to see Sis. Walsh and Sis at school.”
Having two older siblings has made her quite the little imitator. It’s amazing how much she looks like a tiny 5-year-old when she’s copying them. She holds a crayon like a big kid, kicks and throws a ball better than any of our older kids did at this age, climbs like an orangutan, and can manipulate door knobs, light switches, remote controls, a computer mouse and a pedal-operated garbage can. She can pedal her tricycle, and last week, when a friend left a scooter in the yard, she put on his helmet and tried to ride.
It’s not always sweet and fuzzy. It does get hectic when we’re trying to make dinner, do homework and keep the baby from wasting all the soap in the bathroom, pouring salt all over the table or putting half a tube of toothpaste onto her toothbrush. Her dexterity has surpassed the security of most child safety devices.
And, if you try to interrupt one of these big girl games she plays, she doesn’t go quietly. She has learned the phrase “Go away” and uses it liberally. But we love her, and we know we’ll miss these days when she really does grow up, when she’ll be too big to cuddle and her disregarding instructions will be much less cute.
The highest compliment we’ve ever received about the baby was when my sister-in-law said “If I could guarantee I would get one like her, I’d have a third.” I agree. If I could get a guarantee I’d have another one like her, I’d have a fourth!
You can email Theresa at email@example.com. Ideas, comments and poll questions are always welcome!