So Much Chatter

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Dear BabyBird,

It’s amazing what a chatterbox you’ve become. You’re coming right up on two years old and there’s not a moment of silence around you. You’re laughing and singing your children’s songs the entire time when we go for a run, while we’re in the car, as you tear through the house looking starting mischief, or while you’re standing in your crib, patiently avoiding a nap. And there are so many flavors of real, connected language outside singing coming out of you that it’s hard to capture all of it, but I’ll give it a shot.

First, we’ve got clear-cut orders. Instead of any sort of generic fussing when something’s not right you well tell us exactly what to do. This began as succinct noun: verb combos; when we’re done with bath and you think it’s time for a story with Mama, you’ll demand “Mama: GET HER.” Like I can just summon her, right? Well, actually I thought this was funny and started doing a special whistle (much to your glee), after which she’d coming walking in… so now you chant “Work! Work!” until it happens. So we are fully to blame for this one, but it’s pretty darn cute.

We get orders when you drop something too, like “Foon: GET IT”. You know it’s a spoon, but find it hilarious to intentionally mis-pronounce it like a baby. Kind of like Yaya and Migu, which are yougurt and oatmeal. If I call them yogurt and oatmeal you’ll insist they’re yaya and migu, but if I use those you look at me like I’m an idiot and slowly say “oat-meal” to make sure I get it right. Thanks for that.

Second, we’re getting some very cute insights and little comebacks from you when we least expect it. I was playing music for you on my iPhone and, as you usually do now whether it’s at home or in the car, incessantly ask for “next one!” whenever you want another track. The concept of “just having to listen to what’s on” has clearly escaped you growing up in a world of on-demand music devices (and pushover parents?). But anyway, you kept doing this to me and I finally said “Cayden, I feel like I’m just your iPhone”. Well, you beamed up at me and said “No, Dada… iPad!” Heart warmed, you win. Or when I’m about to help you out with something, you’ll step in, look up, and deftly say “No Dada, I got it.” So proud!

Plus, your judgement on things is no longer strictly black and white; when something isn’t quite right but you don’t care or just want to move on you’ll loudly declare “Good eee-nuff!”, and you find it even funnier  when you know it’s something we can’t live with (like both legs in the same pant leg… or only one of five hundred peas picked up off the floor). I’ve even had you interrupt me when I’m admonishing you for not putting something away with a wry “Dada… calm DOWN!”, which Mama finds particularly cute.

Third, we’re getting a full dose of what we’ve affectionately named Baby’s Remorse. You are so stubborn that you’ll make up your mind on something – even when it’s a ridiculous position to hold – and then stick to it no matter what else we say. For instance, you didn’t get a fourth drink of water so now you don’t want to play piano. “Piano? “No.  Napping.” “Are you sure?” “NAPPING.” “Okay… then I’m leaving, goodnight.” “… AHHHH! PIANO PIANO PIANO!” … and that’s what we call baby’s remorse. We can literally step out of the room and count to five and you’ll cave, but it’s pretty cute that you are at least trying to put your foot down on a few things.

Fourth, we’re getting more of those questions that really tear at the heartstrings, like “miss me?” when I came back from a few days of travel for work – and then every morning and evening for the week after that. I feel pretty bad for that one. Or when you can tell something just isn’t quite right with one of us you’re not afraid to ask “Dada, okay?” and “Mama, okay?”. If anything this has made us really aware of what sort of mood we’re projecting around you – even if it has nothing to do with you – but also trying to take more time to explain exactly how we feel and why so that you’re not worried. It seems to be helping a little bit with your own emotions too when you get really mad, we’ll ask how you feel, and you can start hinting at what the underlying frustration is.

Lastly, there is one thing you still don’t get which for whatever reason seems more problematic for me than your Mama, and leads to much hilarity: sarcasm. The fact that you can now perfectly understand (and follow) nearly any directions I give, yet have zero concept of sarcasm, make for some amusing consequences. I think the first of these happened while we were out at pizza, you were sort of making a lazy mess of your face face with it, and I said “Buddy, please just eat those…” – and then, when you kept doing it, “… wow, or just smear it all over your face.” Well, you cracked the biggest smile, picked up all the  pizza and sauce you could muster, and did indeed smear it all over your face. I couldn’t stop laughing and Mama looked at me like I was the toddler.

Another one happened just tonight while you were tearing around your bedroom and I said “Seriously, why don’t you just climb into your crib and put yourself to bed then!”, and you immediately ran over to your crib, started climbing it (from the outside!), determined to do just that. So… while I’m fairly proud that you’ve yet to swear or really say anything inappropriate on our account (woohoo!), I’m astoundingly bad at curbing the sarcasm sometimes and granting you permission to do all those crazy things you know aren’t allowed. You’re welcome.

At least through all of this we know that the two-way verbal communication is the real deal now. After almost two years of heartfelt nonverbal, emotional, physical connection it’s so satisfying to just be able ask you something and get a (reasonably) thoughtful answer, or have you tell us what you did at school (usually a list of friends and/or food), or what’s wrong. You’re counting up a storm, pointing out letters of the alphabet, and showing us your imagination when a knot in a piece of wood looks like an animal, and we couldn’t be prouder. I won’t pretend you actually do what we ask all, or even most of the time – but it’s great to see you soaking it all up, learning, and firing it back at us so fast!

Love,
Daddy

Missing the Dreamy Naps

Dear BabyBird,

Last weekend we had the dreamiest nap together, and it reminded me how much I miss them! When you were small it was a regular occurrence to have you fall blissfully asleep on my chest, or tucked under Mama’s arm, and snooze that way for hours. We’d catch them on the couch, on the bed, or just in the rocking chair in your room. But then the whole toddler independence thing kicked in where even if you’re dead-tired, you want to be put down in your crib with full honors – Mimi, Moo, Seahorse, and Blankie ON.

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Usually we have to follow this ritual even if you fall asleep in the car. You’ll stir unpleasantly as we try to get you out and then only want to sleep once you’re tucked away up in your room. But this time I think we managed to get you tired enough for an exception! You’d been up all afternoon and then even pressed on through evening long enough for us to pick up dinner after our busy day, but right as we were driving into our neighborhood fell asleep hard. This time you were out; I was able to gently sneak you out of your car seat, onto my shoulder, and into the house which out so much as a sound. So we lay down on the touch together and just snoozed for a good hour or two. Mama ate dinner and watched with a smile, and eventually you crept off of my chest onto the soft blanket near by for a re-adjustment, but it was a great nap.

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I know these are few and far between now so I’m taking them in whenever I get a chance. Thanks for the snuggles and keeping me warm!

Love,
Daddy

Where Are Your Pants?!

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Dear BabyBird,

During today’s afternoon nap you woke up wailing and I hurried upstairs to see what was the matter. Usually you just need a sip of water or have managed to misplace Mimi, Seahorse, or your blankie, so even before I was through the door I was into the familiar routine of soothing, calmly asking what was wrong and which of those you might need.

Turns out, you were standing in the middle of the crib with two exposed chicken legs below your straggly pajama top, and with a look of earnest worry told me “PANTS.” So… where are your pants? Not just pulled down but completely absent from the crib. After some searching I found them stuffed down along the wall, not far enough to actually fall to the floor but just enough to be invisible at crib level. I have to say, bonus points for not only getting them off but managing to squirrel them away like that before calling out. I was sufficiently impressed, and even after rectifying the pants situation was happy to offer a drink and blankie fix on the house.

At least you’ve never taken off your diaper by yourself yet. Now if we can work on putting pants on by yourself that would be sweet.

Love,
Daddy

We Lost a Shoe

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Dear BabyBird,

We managed to lose a shoe on our run today. Even though it was barely 40 degrees out and I’m presumably watching the stroller near-constantly as we roll along, when I checked on you about two-thirds of the way through both shoes were off, one resting in the bottom of the stroller and the other nowhere to be found. I’m especially amazed because you kept your gloves on, so you must have worked them off (velcro and all) entirely with your feet. But I guess your socks kept you warm enough not to mind as you were quite happy to finish the run without them.

In the past we’ve lost mittens and you’ve wiggled off your hat, but this is a first for shoes. I guess I was distracted by all the happy singing of Jingle Bells as we went; there’s been barely any snow this year so the paths are clear, but that doesn’t stop you from pretending gleefully that we’re your one horse open sleigh (hey!). The people we pass just love it.

After I noticed the missing shoe I admonished that you’d have to ask Santa for new shoes now, and I guess it stuck because when we got home you immediately told Mama that you lost a shoe, and when she asked what you wanted for Christmas now you simply responded “shoes”. The look I got after that was even better than explaining that we’d lost them to begin with. The runner-up had been trains for quite awhile, so hopefully Santa has it in his heart to find room for both. I’ll let him know you’ve been really good in case it helps!

I am going to obsessively double-check your shoes every mile on runs for the foreseeable future. I’m pretty sure if we lose another I’ll be taking a second run solo to go find it no matter how cold or dark it is!

Love,
Daddy