Thursday, January 12, 2006

One and a half

Dear Vivian—

You turned 18 months on the 18th of December. Today is the 11th of January, true, but give me a break, child: it’s been a busy few weeks. Since the day you turned one and a half, you have learned approximately eighty gazillion new words. You now talk in practically complete sentences, and understand everything I say to you, with the possible exception of “Eat your broccoli, it tastes good.” Methinks you do understand that, but choose not to believe it.

Indeed, you are far more cynical than your brother ever was—or is, to this day. You are not fooled by a kiss on your bruised finger—you want retribution from your brother, and you want it now. When you are tired, you want to go to sleep—in a bed of some sort, not my lap, not held in my arms to say goodnight to all the guests. Do not attempt to feed you a piece of vegetable disguised in your tacos, do not put a slice of tomato on in your sandwich: you simply pull it out of your mouth immediately, and hand it back to me.


Vivian, you have been walking now for over a month, and that, combined with the talking, has turned you instantly from growing baby to toddler. I don’t have a baby anymore! For the first time in 3 years, I have no baby on my hip. Yes, you still reside on my hip from time to time, but mostly you are walking now, faster and faster, after your brother, away from me.

Still you are cautious: no running willy nilly down the flights of stairs at Grandy’s house, not like Isaac did last year. Instead you stand at the top, calling, “Mommy! Mommy! Help! Help! Downstairs!” until I come to pick you up and carry you down. This makes things quite a bit easier for me, since I don’t have to worry about finding you in a heap of broken bones at the foot of the stairs, and can read the incredibly poorly written Wilmington News Journal in relative piece while you and your brother wreak havoc in other areas of the house.


There are so many new things about you since the last time I wrote, 6 months ago. Of course the walking and the talking are new, but so is your personality. At one you were still an easy little thing, happily and quietly sitting still, taking in your surroundings. Now you are slowly morphing into a child with opinions, screaming “Let go!” at your brother when he tries to snatch a toy from your grasp, or “My turn! Vivi turn!”when you want a go at the bike. You appear to be learning some tricks from your brother, too: suddenly you have developed an independent streak. “No!” you say definitively, yanking your head away, if I dare try to spoon feed you some applesauce. Instead you insist “I dood it!”, until I wearily hand you the spoon to watch you cover all surfaces with goo. Although, as with everything these days, you do improve dramatically everyday. This morning after breakfast, there was but a smidgen of soy yogurt on your pajamas when I took off your bib.

You have also, at the tender age of one and a half, learned the “why?” trick from your brother. “Let’s put on your jacket”, I say as we head out into the Delaware frigid air, to which you reply, in your Cindy Lou-Who voice, “Why?” Or “Why Mommy, why?” Definitely sweet in small doses, but constantly? I can think of sweeter things for you to say.

Other things your brother has taught you to say: “Go Away!” ;“I want it!”; “Don’t do that!” I am un-impressed with his teaching abilities, as you might guess.

For a few months now, you have taken to backing into the sitting position in my lap. So you grab a book, totter over to me, and then turn around and back up a few steps before plopping into me. How can there be anything cuter, I ask you. How?


You have adjusted, like a champ, to your new surroundings in Delaware. I’m not sure what you believe—are Grandy and Grandad your new parents? Is this large comfortable house your new abode? (Sorry, kid—we will be heading back to the hovel in L.A. sooner or later). Is Daddy gone forever? Why is my room different? Where are my toys? Despite all these changes, you remain a happy go lucky little munchkin—perhaps in your time-frame only one day has gone by, not seventeen. Whatever the reason, I do appreciate your flexibility, and your friendliness. There have been thousands of new people holding you these last two weeks, and you bear them all bravely, only occasionally hiding your face in my sweater—but even then, you generally lead with a giggle or a smile, so as to be flirting, rather than rude. Your father’s daughter, for sure.

But! Here is some news! Suddenly people tell me that you resemble me! You—you look like me, apparently. I think it is your hair, since you seem to get blonder and blonder with each passing day. As a baby you had very dark, almost black hair, and you do have your Daddy’s round head—but now. Now, my little blondie, now I can claim you, too.

Have I mentioned the singing? You sing now—the alphabet song, Frere Jacques, The Farmer in the Dell. Thing is, you’re just not clear on all the words, and—like your brother, you are often quite off-key. So it can be very difficult to understand which song it is that you are singing, until you get to the “Quack Quack here! Quack Quack dere!” part.

MMM, candy canes.

For months, your favorite activity is any game that involves you being held upside down. You really enjoy the sensation of your head being inverted to the ground, and this gives me pause: how does this bode for your teenage years? Will they still be doing "whip its" then? Your giggle is enough to rush those thoughts out of my mind, however. I will do anything to hear you laugh, and you know it.

You have learned to say Isaac’s name correctly, now pronouncing even the hard C at the end. This is quite cute, and also impressive: I don’t think Isaac said his own name until he was older than two. What a smart, smart girl! However, screaming “Isaac! Isaac!” when you wake up in the middle of the night, followed by “Sleeping! Isaac sleeping!” is perhaps not the best use of this talent.

As seems to be the rule for the winter months, no matter which side of the county we reside, you have spent the past two weeks sick. First diarrhea, then a cold. Apparently this is affecting your sleeping habits, because for two mornings in a row you’ve been up by 5:30. True, your brother is up at 6, only 30 minutes later, but I really cherish those 30 minutes, so if you could just ignore the snot clogging up your nostrils until then, I’d appreciate it.

Although, as you well know, no matter what time you wake up, I remain completely taken with you. You melt my heart a thousand different times a day. Every new feat you accomplish, every new word, every bigger step you conquer--everything you do makes a light flash on in center of my soul, a light that shines out through every pore in my body, that warms my bones, that lightens my spirit. Thank you for being my daughter. Thank you for being Isaac’s sister. Thank you for you.


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