Wednesday, August 6, 2014

My daughter, the almost-toddler

This little one is a delight. She really, truly is. She's growing up so quickly these days.

She is the happiest little person I can imagine. I do remember Peregrine being crazy happy at this age, but it still takes me by surprise. She coos and giggles and warbles and smiles and laughs. At everything.

Since she was about six months old, I've felt like we could have honest-to-goodness conversations, even though only one of us spoke legible English. It goes so much deeper than speaking. She sees people. She has a special, unique relationship with just about everyone she knows well. She has jokes and games she reserves for individuals. And if you ever laugh at something, she will laugh at it, too. She watches you astutely, figuring out what you like and how to engage you on those terms.

She reads feelings like nothing else. This is new to me. Peregrine is kind of stoic, most of the time. He's very tender, and very sweet, but it's hard to really get him down. He doesn't take things personally. He can get scared or panicked or sad if that's how you're acting, but nothing like Sylvia does. It's like she just tastes the feelings in a room. She watches my face, constantly, to see how I am reacting to everything. She picks up fear, sadness, anger. She picks up happiness and calm, too, fortunately. It's easy to reassure her, just by acting reassuring.

She is the child I was pregnant with, the child who is never still. She is insanely wiggly during diaper changes. I have to pin her down. Dressing her takes about five times as long as it should, because she undresses herself that many times. She'll pull a foot out of her pants when I'm putting the other in. She will not keep shoes, socks, or hair decorations, in.

She is single-minded and ridiculously hard to distract. If she has a goal, she goes for it, and nothing gets in her way. But she doesn't frustrate easily. And she rarely ever asks for help. She just keeps going back, keeps trying until she finds a way that works. She learns systems quickly and figures out how things work the way they do. She can already put her own dee in in the middle of the night (you'd think that would make her sleep better, wouldn't you?), and she's figured out the concept of puzzles. She mimics brushing her hair, brushing her teeth, putting on socks and shirts and pants and hats (and she knows where on her body they all go!). The other day she found a washcloth and started scrubbing the floor, then quickly realized it wasn't the washcloth I had just used. So she carefully strategized, propped herself up against the wall, leaned and stretched and reached, never fussing or complaining, and after several minutes, got the washcloth she was looking for.

She can climb up slides and stairs and into Peregrine's bed. But she can't walk around furniture. She hates being left out and can't stand it when anyone leaves the room or closes the baby gate. Although she's fairly certain she can make it through the baby gate--I frequently come back from a laundry expedition to find her with an entire limb--or two or three--through the bars, the rest of her patiently easing its way through, despite the futility of her mission.

She is remarkably tough when no one is watching. She's accumulated far more scrapes and bruises than her careful, precise older brother ever did. She falls, and gets up. But if she thinks she's been insulted--if the person or inanimate object did it on purpose--she weeps and wails and gives me the most pitiful cry you ever saw. If Peregrine so much as touches her in a mildly bumpy or scratchy fashion, her little lip starts quivering and her little eyes start pouring tears. Start your skills strong, younger sibling.

She eats like a horse, and constantly. She went through about 8 raviolis (big ones!) the other night, and was still hungry. She is especially fond of juicy fruits, and pasta with savory sauce. Oh, and ice cream.

She says Mama, and Daddy, and bye-bye, and dee (of course!), and squeezie, and more. The jury is still out on all-done and thank you. Mostly she yells, but we're working on using our words and asking politely.

She is fiercely independent and hates having you do things for her if she could be doing them herself. She hates it with a passion when we try to feed her (unless she's terribly hungry). She sobbed and wailed and shut her mouth and refused to eat ice cream today because I wouldn't let her have the spoon. Andrew and I kind of dread her toddler years. Between the independence and the tendency toward melodramatics--well, it's going to look a lot different from Peregrine.

She's remarkably opportunistic, and she's not above picking pockets. (She's quite good at it, actually--she managed to whisk away this little crumb-scraper from a waiter the other night. No one realized it until minutes later, when we looked over and saw Sylvia industriously scraping crumbs from the tablecloth. And she manages to get my phone out of my purse, usually without my noticing it, every time I pick up the two of them together). She fully accepts that Peregrine is above her in the pecking order. But she lies in wait, patient as always, until he has abandoned whatever it was she was wanting. As soon as he is out of sight, she swoops in for the kill.

She loves noises and sound effects. Her very favorite game is to bring me her stuffed animals, one by one, and have me make the various noises for them. She has no patience for most books, except the ones with texture. She loves music and will bob her head whenever she hears it. She can hear clapping from a mile away and always claps along. She plays pretty independently, a lot of the time. She loves to be with me, and insists on being at my side most of the day, but she doesn't love doing things with me the way Peregrine did (and does!). She just wants me nearby while she does her exploring.

She's still my little Owl, and still not a shining example in the world of baby sleep. She's gotten better, slowly but surely, though. She's a champ at going down--she puts herself to sleep almost all the time, and tolerates Peregrine's loudness and babbling and multiple potty trips with remarkable grace. He can wake her up with his shenanigans, and she will settle down peacefully, often with no assistance. So, despite her owling, I have to remind myself she has a lot of strengths. But she still owls at night on occasion, with no apparent reason. And she still wakes up a lot, even if she's not hungry. Andrew and I are going to try keeping her in her room all night and see if that makes any difference.

I love her so much, and I love her at this age. She is growing and exploding with curiosity and joy and mischief. I know she'll change so much over this next year, and a few months from now, she'll be so, so much more grown up than she is now. Her soul will be the same--souls are, it seems, it's remarkable to me how both my kids are so solidly the same people they always have been--but she'll know and do so much more.

Here's to you, my owlet. I love you so much.

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