What can I say? You have once again fallen victim to Mommy being too busy and disorganized to write your letters. And it is such a shame, because since I wrote to you about 4 and a half months ago everything has changed, evolved, grown, improved–you’re becoming a little girl right before our eyes, and it’s happening so fast right at a time when I am too frazzled to write about it properly.
I don’t even think about tracking speech development with you anymore. Now we just have conversations, where you order us around and we largely comply! However, when I was making notes for your 26-month milestones, here is a paragraph I wrote which I still think shows that your language was pretty remarkable for a 26mo: “When we were Skyping to Granny Cloahe and Granny Cathy, you used the word ‘otherwise’ correctly in a sentence, which surprised all of us. You also know the word ‘frustrated.’ You like to wrinkle up your face and puff air out your nose to demonstrate. This one you got from a book about emotions; I’m not sure you’ve yet connected it to any actual emotion that you personally feel.”
Well, we’re long beyond being surprised by your vocabulary now. These days we have entered the world of complex negotiations. So, today, when you were trying to delay your nap, I traded your demand that I read you one more story for three sparkly star stickers (you specified pink, green, and blue) and an audiobook instead. Or if I want you to get into your car seat without fuss, all I have to do is provide one of your various favorite packaged processed fruit snacks. No, I am not above bribery. At least it’s fruit, of a sort. And the way I get you to brush your teeth is to allow you to do yelling indoors while I brush. Fun for everyone! Except maybe the neighbors. And me. And your brother if he is trying to sleep.
Oh yes, that’s the other tiny thing I should mention. You’ve got a little brother! More specifically, you’ve got a little brother whom you utterly adore, named Arthur (occasionally aka Archie). Since you have always been so attached to me, I was really worried about how you would react to a tiny interloper. But from the very moment we brought him home, you have hugged and kissed him, worried about him if he cries, read him books, tried to soothe him, and demanded nothing more from me than equal cuddles during the times you’re feeling a little displaced. I said in your last letter that you are caring and careful–this continues to be absolutely true. Never was a little brother loved more.
At nursery they say they can tell you love having a new brother, because apparently you have started playing with the baby dolls very carefully. You pick one out in the morning, carry it around with you, and give it to one of the staff if you have to put it down. You say “Would you hold my baby?” and you go get it from them later. The other children are not allowed to touch your baby, and it seems you are adamant about that! (Also, on a slightly different note, while you are apparently very popular at nursery, at the same time they say you don’t let anyone pick on you–it seems if anyone annoys you, you say “No, that is not nice! Don’t [hit/kick/whatever] me. It is naughty. You say sorry to me!” It turns out that has worked out well for you, incredibly, and now nobody bothers you but you still have lots of friends. Good skills.)
You are really into imaginative play now. So you narrate what we are “doing”–usually we are taking a taxi to the shops and then to a cafe where we will have a coffee (honestly, is this really what you think we do all the time?! If only!), and then we spill the coffee so we have to wipe it all up. Or this from the other day: “Hmm, I’ll do the pancenta [this is a go-carting medal that you are pretending is a stethoscope, and you are holding it on Arthur]. He’s all sick. He did a cough. He’s all right! I’m a doctor.” (You also state that you are going to be a doctor when you grow up. I’ve got it on video so there’s no argument later!)
You’ve started ballet and football. Daddy takes you to football on Saturday mornings, and he says you are by far the fastest runner and the most coordinated (this could be because you are among the oldest in the class), but you aren’t particularly interested in the technical ball skills. So he thinks your next course should be something different–probably swimming again, since we haven’t done that with you since you were a very small baby. You love ballet (you even go up quickly and quietly for a nap on the days you know you are going to go to ballet) but you have been too shy to participate by yourself until recently–I have had to do it with you. Naturally I am the star pupil.
You have been halfheartedly learning your letters; I’m not actively trying to teach you, but somehow you have now picked up (in addition to O) i, e, and s. I think that’s it. There is very little I can spell out for you using just o, i, e, and s, so I’m sure this reading lark would be all a bit boring for you if I pushed it right now.
By far the biggest change you’ve made without any pushing on my part is that you decided to potty train yourself. I tried about 5 months ago (as noted in the last letter I wrote), but you didn’t seem totally ready, and I didn’t want to push it right before Arthur was born, so I left it. Then I could see that you were probably ready right after he was born, but at that point I wasn’t ready because it’s pretty impossible to potty train a toddler while breastfeeding ceaselessly (top tips for any future mothers there). So again I left it. But then one day you said “I don’t want to wear a nappy,” and I said, “Ok, but if you don’t wear a nappy you have to go in the potty all day long,” and you said “Ok!” and that was that. Since then we have had our share of accidents, but I really do think it is fair to say you are potty trained (during waking hours).
In things I have pushed, though: I think we have finally cracked bedtime. Last August, while we were in France, you suddenly stopped being able to go to bed as delightfully easily as you always had. I think you got scared when I put you down to sleep in what to you was a strange room, and every night since then was a bit of a struggle. We tried putting you down and leaving you to cry, which was painful because I had never done that to you before, putting you down and coming back in every few minutes, which seemed to prolong the crying, putting you in bed earlier, putting you in bed later, having music, having more light in the room (which you categorically told me to turn off)–it seemed like we tried everything.
Then I tried the magic combination of leaving the door open while you listened to an an audiobook–we started with Stick Man. From that night, bedtime became a lot easier. Then, once you were largely calm every night, but sometimes just decided to yell that you wanted to get up, I started telling you that you could have your bedroom door open only as long as there was no yelling, because yelling is too noisy for your brother. So now I read you a few stories, I put your chosen audiobook on (we have a few now), and I give you a hug and kiss and say “Goodnight–I will leave the door open as long as there is no yelling,” and you say “Goodnight mommy! I won’t do any lelling!”
(yes, “lelling” <3 )
Finally, and can I just say I have been waiting a long time for this day to come, you now allow me to leave the room without taking you with me! Hip hip hooray! Just today I was allowed to go have a shower while your brother was having a nap and you were watching Bubble Guppies. This is freedom I have not known for nearly two years. And I can leave the room for 108 minutes if I want (of course I never do) if Frozen is playing. Oh, Frozen. I think I could now have Frozen as my specialist subject on Mastermind.
I love you,
P.S. By around 26-27 months, all of your molars were finally through!