Today, you split your lip. It was chilly outside, and you and daddy walked to the 7-11 around the corner for milk. You had your hands in your pockets, and when your toe caught a crack in the pavement, you couldn’t get them out in time. You came home sobbing, blood dripping through your fingers and your lip already swollen. I gave you a wet rag and a little ice pack, and you sat on the kitchen island with tears streaming down your face, gasping between your cries.
Later in the day, I watched your eyes light up with delight when I asked if you wanted a mini cupcake. You peeled off the wrapping, licked off the frosting, and savored every last bite. You had on skinny jeans and a super girl t-shirt. Your hair was pulled into a little pony tail, and before you left for nap, I crouched down next to you and asked for a kiss. You leaned in, and at the last second, you gave me the briefest peck on the cheek, your eyes elsewhere, but your weight threatening to push me over.
You painted me a pink heart for Valentines, you held our hands all the way to playground, you asked “why?” a dozen times. You noticed the kitties, the other little girls. You wanted to walk across the bridge. When you got tired on the way home, your daddy picked you up and you leaned in and said, “I love you, daddy.”
At home, you wrapped your baby doll in a blanket, painted some more, and nibbled on pieces of cheese I fed you as I made dinner. When your sister cried, you ran over and sat next to her, offering her toys and tucking the blanket around her.
For a treat, we watched the last half of Mary Poppins while we ate dinner, and you sat entranced, mouthing recurring phrases like, “close your eyes” and “chim-chiminey.” You looked at me with your eyes wide when you watch the chimney sweeps dance across the rooftops, and you asked me to turn off the TV when the fireworks shot through the sky. As you ate your soup, you said very seriously, “this is good for me. It makes my tummy feel good.”
Past your bedtime, I finally laid you down in bed and sang you our songs: the Sh’ma and “New” Song (which is the Part of Your World song from the Little Mermaid). I laid with you for a few minutes, running my fingers through your hair and telling you about our day. You closed your eyes.
I sense you’re on a cusp. At times, you are unbelievable mature and I look at you, unable to fathom how you’ve grown so quickly. At others, you are still a two year old, figuring out how to use the potty and bursting into tears when we rearrange the furniture.
I’ll see you in your skinny jeans and a pony-tail, scuffing the dirt with the toe of your tennis shoes, and I’ll think, “how on earth did you get to be so big?!” And then, I’ll melt when you ask me to snuggle. You’re still small enough to need me for big and small things, but there’s an independent, wise and self-possessed part of you emerging.
A new development is your ability to “calm down.” You’ll be losing it over something – the wrong breakfast, the wrong shoes, the wrong vehicle – and I’ll tell you that it’s time to calm down. In the middle of tears and screams and back-arching toddler tantrum, you’ll start to exhale loudly and purposefully, stilling your limbs, and going a little red in the face as you hold back the next scream. “Ok. K. I calm down. Calm down. Ok. I’m calm.”
Or the way that you freely tell me and your daddy that you love us, without us even prompting. You’ve started saying thank you for more than just simple exchanges, for example in the middle of a meal when you’ve realized that I cooked something just for you that you really like.
I love you, my dear. You’re funny and kind. You’re sweet and you’re smart. You’re beautiful and opinionated.