Originally begun 4/25/11, Completed Today
Is there a difference?
Do we really have to ask?
Or to introduce this topic another way: in the past week your teacher, Dada, and most recently Mamaw all pointed out that you sure do say "No" very well. Ridiculously well. Like, oh my, please just say "Yes" so that we as your loving adults get a little positive reinforcement in our requests of you.
Surely we aren't the ones being unreasonable, are we?
Occasionally you do nod your head-full of bouncy, strawberry blonde curls so sweetly and agreeably for "yes", but sometimes lately a verbal "yes" would be like giving us all a round of applause, or any other sign of encouragement to keep climbing that Mountain of Toddlerhood Independence, all the while guiding you along the way. We're proud of you for asserting your opinions even though at times they seem to be purely a means for you to reach an end: to be a "Contrary McClary" as your Dada and I call you. It's just one more sign of your healthy, on-track development. Or at least we keep telling ourselves this as a form of pseudo-applause for our seemingly unlauded efforts to guide, chide, or encourage you in all sorts of new directions and ventures.Here's a glimpse into a few recurring scenarios and isolated events that aid in illustrating just what I mean...
- You are adamantly opposed to going inside from playing/ exploring outside unless "owsiiiide" is: a) rainy, b) cold, OR c) dark -- even your own hunger is completely unimportant and holds no sway over your steadfast decision to remain outside. We either have to carry you inside, wailing all the way, garnering leers and whispers from the neighbors or slyly get you inside the doorway without you realizing what's going on. And, yes, sometimes we are proud of that. You'll turn out just fine...
- You really do LOVE taking baths, but every night in the last month, right after dinner, you blurt out "NO BATH." just as calmly as you please. As if you call the shots around here...HA! It's hilarious to us (after the bath is underway) because almost as soon as your feet hit the water, you are just happy as a lark to be taking a bath.
- Easter dinner was a blast. We adults sat down to eat about 1.5 hours before your usual dinnertime and you were not interested. "NOOOOOO EAT! GO OWSIIIIDE?" Again, funny AFTER the fact. Playing "pass the toddler from lap-to-lap because we forgot both boosters" was due punishment for such a memory lapse. I would say "Never again" to forgetting your seat, but I prefer to NOT eat my words.
- However, even as redeeming as it was, you did thoroughly enjoy leading each of Mama, Papaw, and Mamaw around the yard on adventures after we ate Easter dinner. We enjoyed it, too, we promise. Please forgive the general red-facedness and huffing from hoofing it up and down the hills. We're older and flabbier than you are. Said with love, of course. As an aside, I can't fathom the lack of cognizance some folks display when they decide to have their 1st child after they hit 40 years old (depending on the scenario, even 35 sounds old...). How do you expect to keep up with / entertain / play with your offspring? He or she is going at FULL-TILT 24/7 and you're lucidly present between conference(s) (calls), jet-setting, transporting, doing the daily grind of the workplace and working hard for the money in conjunction with home-making, home-keeping, child-rearing, and spousal-loving-supporting-coping. Folks who have earned their degrees, earned their titles at work, and planned their family planning are admirable and mostly practical, at best, in my mind. Estimations of course depending on the sum of all life goals of each partner and notwithstanding outside pressures from family to produce cuddly, kissable, spoilable new, exciting, and unpredictable combinations of your individual DNA. Delusional, distracted, and stretched thin are also applicable descriptors to the over 40 1st-time parents. (I know of people who have waited longer than 40 years old to start procreating, but they are practically on the verge of senility at that point, so no one's calling that a sane decision, anyway.) Just a thought...
- You love to help. With anything. ANYTHING. From getting the box of Multi-Grain Cheerios out of the cabinet to doling out "paper" in the bathroom, you are so on top of your "Mama's Big Helper" game. You even "wash dishes": seated in your chair with the tray in place, after Mama washes and rinses the plastic dishes, she hands them to you. You then use your dampened rag to wash them again, hand them back to Mama for her to put in the drying rack, and then wait for your next dish. 90% of the time you will not say "no" to a request for help and that's much appreciated.
- There are some art supplies that really excite you and some that, well, just don't. Markers fall into the "Complete and Total Awesomeness" Category. I love that you love them so much and I love that HUGE smile you wear so proudly while you use them so ineptly (usually there's more color on YOU than the paper). I'm not so fond of the predictable meltdown that follows after their use when you're told it's time to put them away. I love you, but wow. You really know what you want. I'm afraid to let you use them more often (until you get a little older) to get you more acquainted with them because I really don't want you to expect markers whenever we color. You're not a fan of being scrubbed vigorously to remove the marker that you coat your hands with accidentally & purposefully.
- Play-Doh is another story altogether. Who doesn't love Play-Doh? It's colorful, has limitless possibilities, and is non-toxic (a major plus). Hey, I can't tell you how much Play-Doh I
accidentallyate and I turned out good enough. Somedays energy & patience are just in short-supply by the end of the day when you want to play with it and it just has to wait til the weekend for now. When you're a little older and don't need such close supervision, we'll discuss the Play-Doh playtime rules in depth. Again, said with love and understanding, of course. I love children, working with children, being with children, and you are no exception. If you work full-time, have full-time interests, AND parent/ spouse full-time someday, you'll better understand the situation. I promise. I didn't "get it" either until I jumped into those roles simultaneously. I suggest easing into each one of them, if at all possible.
- The Park. We love the park. Not as much as you do, but there was a time when we did. We were children once and going to the park was all we wanted to do, too. We remember feeling as you do, wanting as you want, and reeling as you reel when it's time to leave. We love you and feel for your seemingly heart-wrenching loss, but nearly 2 hours at the park is sufficient. Yes, you currently disagree: all dang day, sun-up to sun-down wouldn't be enough. We sympathize with you: all dang day, sun-up to sun-down at the spa or an art museum wouldn't be enough for us either. (Hmmm...when's the last time we did either of those?) We might even get upset when it's time to leave from our favorite places, might even cry a little from not knowing when we might return, but making a spectacle for spectacle's sake is generally not smiled upon unless you're Lady Gaga. We do call you "Baby (or Lady) Googah" though, so perhaps your behavior is nearly befitting. Nearly. We understand how intensely you feel your emotions and we definitely don't expect you to act like an adult already or to never, not ever throw a fit. We get it, babe. Please forgive us for giggling quietly to ourselves when you try to run UP the spiral slide to get away from us when it's time to go, losing your footing and sliding down head-first and backwards, without injury of course, and getting even more crimson-faced & generally pissed off than when you first endeavored UP the slide. You're a funny little gal and you don't even have to try.
The African proverb, "It takes a village to raise a child" is no less applicable in its simplicity.
We do see that you appreciate our collective effort: you shriek with excitement when you see any of us, you give hugs and request kisses with your signature "kiss face", you laugh with us, tickle, cuddle, read, learn and play with us.
You simply love us.
All of us.
And even if by no other means do we see our efforts to broaden your horizons and guide you aren't going unnoticed, it's when you show us exactly how you commend them: you want to lead each of us around the yard on an adventure of your own making. From caterpillars to blowing dandelion puffs, splashing in fountains, walking to the mailbox, coloring with us, helping wash the dishes, trying a new food after someone else does, go down the slide headfirst only after Mama does (which was entertainment for everyone at the park), to do it all on "your time" when you think you've made the decision for yourself, even if it's just 30 seconds after you've been requested to do it and you initially say "NO".
Determined, focused, attuned and attentive and aware, bright, sweet, loving, and cautiously adventurous are just a few of the characteristics we've recognized in you in the last 2 years.
No doubt they will be recurring themes in your development, Dear.