Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Happy 22 months, Helen

Dear Helen,

Guess what? Your brother turned four and all you got was this lousy late post about your month. And oh, what a month it was. You are your own woman, and you make certain that most people near you know this. You do not like to be told what to do and you are very clear about letting people know this. You also do not like to sit still. The two of these characteristics made for a rather unpleasant flight to Minnesota earlier in the month. So unpleasant, in fact, that at one point Connor looked up at me and said "I wish you had never let Helen come out of your tummy" and it took a lot of restraint for me not to say "me too!". But the plane landed, my friend from second grade - Lisa - met us in baggage claim, and from there, we had a lot of fun. And you were the center of many of those good times. When your dad joined us on the return flight, I told him that you were his, and his alone. And do you know what you did? You napped the entire flight. He now thinks I made up the stories about how rough the flight to MN was, but I assure you, no portion of the stories I told him was fabricated, and I will do you the favor of not recording any more about that flight. But let's just say, when the time comes that I'm drooling on myself and begging you to wipe my chin, I might just say "remember that flight to Minnesota back in 2009? Well you owe me!".

Luckily, you are the most charming person in the world so it is absolutely impossible to be mad at you. Plus, it's not your fault that you are almost two and by necessity, you must explore the world. You must assert yourself. You must make your presence known and be sure not to be pushed around. Believe me, Helen, your will has been made known. And as a coworker pointed out to me, every characteristic you display today (outside of the biting), is something I will be grateful you have when I send you off on your own someday.

You now use sentences to express yourself, you have sorted out "I" and "you" but you still mix up "you" and "me", for the most part. You still hold your arms up and say "carry you, Mommy" though sometimes when I respond something along the lines of "I can't, Helen, I already have full arms" you'll look at Daddy and say "carry me Daddy". You love, love, love to talk on the phone and you call your grandparents regularly from your play phone, or "new phone" as you refer to it. Often, we call them from my phone as well and they absolutely understand you. I can't say you're the most interesting conversationalist yet, but you have your moments. Your vocabulary is rich and probably a half dozen times this past month, another mom has noted that to me. It is impossible for people around you much not to mention how much you talk. Like your brother, Helen, you do not shut up. This can make for some pretty intersting times, but it can also be a bit draining. But I always said if there was one characteristic I wanted in my children it would be that they could talk early. I knew I wanted this because my mom used to point out how much better it was when your Aunt Linda and I were no longer babies and could tell her why we were being irrational, rather than just screaming at her. And I do think she was right.

Once this month, when I put you in your crib for a nap you spent an hour, AN HOUR, talking to yourself up there. You never seemed upset, so I figured I'd keep you in there, because at this point in the day, I needed a break. After an hour, I heard the following "Elaine, Elaine, ELAINE! Come get Helly out of the crib. Helly out of the crib now" and I decided that was good enough for you to get out of jail. So I rescued you and then you proceeded to cook me the most delicious pretend dinner while Connor napped. And it's not often that we get to spend an hour alone, but this hour was quite fun.

You call me by my first name whenever you really want my attention, barking it just like your dad, and it works. I think it's quite funny and as a result, Connor has picked up this habit as well. I suppose it makes sense for us to be on a first name basis. I think it horrifies other moms on the playground when they hear you shout my name, but what do they know?

We visited an actual baby and you were not disappointed. A week after the visit you are still talking about Baby Ari and how you got to hold him by yourself. If you had a vote, I think you would vote for a baby around this house. Unfortunately for you, no committee spots have opened up so you don't get to vote.

You grew taller. My friend Marya pointed out that she thought you looked taller and I was quick to tell her that despite the fact that you eat like a truck driver, you do not grow. Only when I brought you home and measured you next to the trusty cabinet door, you had indeed grown a couple of inches. Way to go, Helen. After all, in two months you'll be heading to the pediatrician's office to record how freakishly small you are, and now you'll be just a little less so. This doesn't really matter since you have the most incredible pediatrician who has never been either surprised or concerned about your small stature. You are, after all, my daughter. But nevertheless, it's nice to see you growing. But my, how that crib is starting to look small.

You love the water and enjoy jumping in from the side of the pool. You often tell me you want to go underwater and you'd like to jump by yourself. Pretty impressive for someone who is not even two yet! You'll also lay on your back while I help you float and kick your little legs around pretending to swim. It's nice that you love the water and are so comfortable in it because it's been over 90 degrees several days this past month and we often head to the pool after dinner. It's the only outside place that seems acceptable most evenings.

You still love to hug people and you have the most beautiful smile. Already, you have a million smiles and a million laughs and I adore every single one of them.

You love your brother, and play with him often. Only sometimes he has a few more rules than you care to follow, and if I'm not around, you've been known to level the playing field by biting him. He does not appreciate this, and even though I swear to you that I get it, it's not acceptable. But the simultaneously great and frustrating thing about you? If I tell you to apologize you say "no". And it doesn't matter how I try to coerce you, you will steadfastly refuse. You would, in fact, prefer to scream about injustice in your crib and be separated from Connor than apologize. One morning, I made the huge mistake of telling you that you wouldn't be allowed to go out with Connor and I on a planned outing if you didn't apologize because I could only take children who got along with each other. Well time was ticking, and we needed to leave, and you still refused to apologize. I finally heard you say "sock", which I convinced Connor was "sorry", only as soon as I said "great, you apologized, let's go", you very clearly said "Helly no sorry to Connor. No say sorry." Point taken, my friend. And honesty is a good policy.

You're almost two, Helen, and I promise we will have cake, if only so I can hear you tell everyone who asks you about the party that there was cake.


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