Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Letter to Lucia: 31 Months

Dear Little One,

You’re now closer to three than you are to two—a scary prospect, both because you’re getting so big and because I’ve heard terrifying things about the terrible-threes. We have our terrible-two moments, undoubtedly—your screams are so piercing that they leave my ears ringing, and your irrationality (you want to get back in your crib! no! you want to get up! no! etc.) is exhausting. Fortunately, these episodes aren’t too common, and for the most part you are delightful to be around.

You’re still a skinny little thing—I can see your ribs—but you’re growing, already into 3T clothes (mostly because you have long legs and a long waist). I still worry about your eating, though you’re long past the stage where I can trick you into eating more just by reading books distracting you in other ways. You’ll eat, or you won’t, and there’s not much I can do about it. You aren’t particularly picky, though we haven’t tested you much. Sometimes you decide you like unexpected things, like a black-bean casserole or pesto; other times you take one look at something new and assert, without even tasting it, “I don’t like it.”

You’ve taken to declaring your love for things in a dramatic, theatrical way. “I love goldfish!” you’ll shout as I hand you your snack. “I love water!” You sometimes tell me you love what I’m wearing; tonight I was purging some clothes in my closet and whenever I’d come out in something new, you’d say, “Ooh, Mama, I love your dress!”

You’ve come out of your shell more and more in the familiar sphere of our neighborhood and regular activities and friends. Though our kindly next-door neighbor still intimidates you, you’ve taken to showing her whatever toy you’re carrying or whatever collection you’re building when we see her on the street. You’ll wave to the very loud neighbor Millie now and even say hello sometimes if you’re at a safe distance on the stoop. You always wave and say hello to our super, Charlie. You get excited about seeing friends now, and are doing more and more playing when we see them. And you are a regular social butterfly in music class, running up to give the teacher a hug at the end, vying to be the child chosen to turn off the light before we sing the quiet song, racing over to the teacher at the start of the dance song so he’ll pick you up and swing you around. All of this would have been unheard of just a few months ago.

You still love to sing. You still love to collect stones, sticks, and leaves. You still get absorbed in quiet, intricate activities for long stretches of time—putting tiny Play-Doh balls in medicine cups (one in each cup, or divided up by size or color), making tall towers of Play-Doh canisters or Mega Blocks, arranging seeds and stones. You like to divide things into categories, sort things, settle things in various containers. You like playing with Matchbox cars and lining up animal figurines on the windowsill.

You love to play doctor, and we often set up a waiting room for your stuffed animals, then give them all exams. Everyone always has multiple ear infections. You always say you have ear infections too (the lone real infection you had over Christmas really made an impact), and now you’ve taken to requesting specific items of play food in order to feel better—a hot dog, a donut, corn on the cob slathered with butter.

You love Greta. You give her lots of hugs and kisses and even tell her, “I love you!” If I’m in the kitchen, cleaning up or making food (both of which I seem to do endlessly, endlessly), I’ll sometimes look over and see you showing her toys or giving her toys, sometimes instructing her on how to use them: “See, Greta? You can chew it.” If she cries, you race over to give her a pacifier and are pleased when she accepts it. “There she goes!” you’ll say, satisfied, when she finally starts sucking on it.

You get a wild burst of energy at 6:00pm, making the hour before the bedtime routine the most unpredictable time of the day. Sometimes you get so wound up you start hurling (or trying to, anyway) Greta’s things—the bouncy chair, the play mat—around the living room, or running back and forth at top speed, or shriek-laughing maniacally. Getting outside is best, and I look forward to the day I can simply open the door of our house and release you into the beautiful yard rather than hustle everyone out onto the stoop, where you have to play by the garbage cans.

Favorite activities: watching Olivia, playing doctor, making towers and stacks, collecting anything and everything, swinging at the playground, pretending to feed your doll rice cereal and carrots while I feed Greta, making a “house” with a blanket in your crib or over your art table, singing, doing motions to songs, feeding snacks to your stuffed animals

Favorite books: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (I really hate this book), Chamelia (I hate this one too), Elmo’s Big Book of First (ditto), Pezzetino (love it!), Llama Llama Mad at Mama (neutral to negative). Not our best reading month—you’ve fixated on a few books that definitely aren’t my favorites. I trust these will be replaced by better ones in the days ahead…

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