I’m doing everything I can to soak up this last summer with you having us all to yourself. I know it’s crazy to put it that way since you’re only two years old, but it’s really starting to sink in just how much busier and different things are going to be when your little sister arrives in the fall. I absolutely love how much fun you are at this age, now potty trained, still sleeping and napping like a pro, and so full of energy for all our family adventures. Whether we’re doing things with Mama or you’re just buddied up with me for a quick run or time at the piano it’s always my favorite part of the day. Don’t get me wrong; I’m super excited to have another little one and do this all over again (yes, really!), but there’s a little part of me constantly hoping we have squeezed in every moment we possibly can with an only child because, well, you’re pretty awesome.
We can tell that you’re excited to meet our new family member when she arrives, even if you don’t know quite what to expect. We’ve been building up the fact that Mama has a baby in her belly for quite awhile, and since we learned it’s a girl you’ve been proudly telling anyone who asks that not only is there a baby in Mama’s belly, but it’s “my baby sister”. You’ve even been practicing taking great care of your doll who now gets your favorite blankie and a lego toy tucked in on the rocking chair in the nursery before you go to sleep each night, and snacks of milk or juice during the day.
Even beyond our growing family and all that we’re doing to prepare for it, your curiosity and understanding of the world around you has really been blossoming. Ever since you feel in love with reading Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site we’ve been driving and running past construction sites near our neighborhood, stopping to watch the progress, and spot what Bulldozer or Excavator are up to. One day we went by and the piles of dirt were flat and a neighborhood had finally started to go up, and you pointed with amazement, telling me “Excavator built a house!”
You’re also starting to really have preferences for favorite activities and not only ask for them, but want to play or do them a certain way based on what you’ve learned at school or in one of your weekly classes. We started playing hide and seek sometime last year and you’ve quickly gone from running around following me as I hide to counting patiently with your eyes closed and then making a methodical search of the premises (so I’m having to really put some effort into hiding!), and when hide I’m amazed how quiet and still you can stay just knowing it’s part of the game (especially considering you’re otherwise bouncing off the walls most of the time!).
You’ve also become even more particular (if such a thing is possible) about where your things are put and are quick to correct us if anything is out of place. The other night I left a book on the piano, we walked upstairs to bed, got ready, and as you were about to lay down started waving your hands saying something about “book… piano… AWAY”. Yep, you remembered, and we had to go down and put it away properly before you’d go to sleep. This actually does work in our favor most of the time as you’re great at putting things away (once you focus on it) and like to keep your stuff organized. Just like Mama. And me.
You even named your beloved toy dinosaurs that you got for your birthday to make sure we could address them separately without any confusion. They are: Big One (the appointed leader who often gets a special home on the piano bench rather than put away on the shelf), ‘Ceratops (your special pal based on our many visits to the giant triceratops at the Boulder Museum of Natural History, who now sometimes accompanies you to nap or elsewhere around the house), T-Rex (yep), Green Teeth (self explanatory), Aah Meh (I don’t know, don’t ask), Dinosaur (in your defense, he does look like a pretty stereotypical dinosaur), and we just recently added Stegosaurus.
We’re also starting to see more assertions of power, and they are pretty hilarious. For some reason most of these seem to center around meals; one night I’d taken your plate away after too much playing but naively left your milk behind, and as I was about to dump the plate in the sink you grabbed that milk with lightning speed and held it silently at arm’s length in front of you, over the exposed floor, not saying a word but looking straight at me with a grin – daring me to dump that plate and see what happens – and I admit, causing me to slowly step back towards you and defuse the situation. Well played, son. Even better is when I’ll accidentally make the tiniest sound with my fork on a plate – you know, the kind you make when you’re eating like an adult – and you’ll assert loudly “No banging, Dada. I’ll take it away.” Mama thinks it’s great.
But she doesn’t escape it either; since she does nearly all the cooking you love to play games with what you like and don’t like, even though you honestly love and eat pretty much anything she cooks. One night after she made some super tasty calzones with all kinds of wonderful filling, and some pasta sauce for dipping on the side, you simply took your spoon and proclaimed “I love tomato soup!”, scarfing the sauce down bite by bite while the calzone sat untouched. You also have a favorite phrase, “phone minute cooks?”, which is shorthand for Mama should let you do something on an iPhone for a minute while she cooks for you. But if it’s not clear you’re also happy to just command “Mama cook my breakfast” when she hasn’t even said good morning yet, or as we’re leaving for a run, “Mama cook my dinner” so she doesn’t forget.
And whatever you’re doing, it still has to be “BY SELF”, and we’ve restarted many a task from going up the stairs from the bottom to re-putting on shoes or a jacket to re-sitting on the potty because we helped you too much and you had to do it completely unaided. Other than occasionally making things take twice as long as they need to though, this is actually pretty great. It means you’re also fearless and will try anything, from the hardest climbs at the playground to showing off by yourself at the piano.
You’ve just recently started actually sitting at the piano with me again on a regular basis again (as opposed to running around singing and dancing while I play, which is also fine!), and I’ve started doing some really basic music games as part of our daily fun. I’ll play notes quietly, loudly, or medium and you’ll repeat them, or we’ll echo different rhythms with counting, or do some really basic tunes like Twinkle Twinkle, Mary Had a Little Lamb, or Chopsticks together. I’m just glad you’re still so engaged with it and happy to go at whatever pace you’d like to keep it fun. The other day while I was at work, Mama said you sat down by yourself and were playing the same games with Big One the dinosaur so he could learn them too.
I think you’re starting to really share in our sense of humor a bit too, and it’s made for some great unexpected laughs at the phrases you manage to put together for us. When we told you over and over that you were getting a surprise and we finally gave it to you (wrapped), asked what you thought it was, you rolled your eyes and said, very slowly, “… a surprise?”. Or when we gave you a new flavor of ice cream and were like “oh wow, this is so good, what do you think it tastes like?” your reply was just “… ice cream?”. Some of it is getting mirrored back from us though; one phrase you’ve heard around the house (usually when you do something completely nuts) is “oh my god!”, and you’ve blurted out a couple great “OH MY GOD, MAMA!” when something takes you by surprise. I guess there are worse things to pick up! Knock on wood, you don’t seem to have intentionally picked up any really bad words from anyone yet (though you’ve said quite a few things that sure sounded like they might be until we asked for clarification!). You’re able to pick up on the things we say to each other and use them against us, too. Mama always lets either of us know when she thinks we need a haircut, and you’ve figured it out. When I had to run some errands the other day and told you I’d be back soon, you looked up above my face and with a slight cringe added “haircut too, Dada?” Thanks for the heads-up.
My favorite favorite moment that you’ve put into words yet is one you managed to learn from Mama, yet still totally caught me by surprise with. We were having breakfast before work and school, and I’d made you one of your favorite smoothies – after letting you pick all the ingredients (and preferred final color), of course – and I was just smiling at you sitting there, slurping it down, nodding “yes” to if it was good because you didn’t want to stop for air. When you finally did take a break, you looked right at me, smiled, and said “Break my heart, Dada.” I loved it so much not just because I could tell exactly what you were feeling, but because it’s something I never say; you’d only heard it from Mama to you so many times, and all by yourself connected that feeling from her to something I always do for you that felt worthy of it. It sounds like a little thing, but it made me happy all day.
Let’s make sure the summer doesn’t go by too fast!