You’re killin’ me, smalls. The other day I had you by the ankle, dangling upside over the edge of the bed. We were all tucked in together when you suddenly decided to show us your somersaults, which really are very impressive if you don’t take off points for things like “depth perception.” Yesterday I caught you just as you started to flip head over feet out of your crib. Because of your daredevil tendencies, I’ve picked up both some amazing reflexes and an increase in raised eyebrows from strangers as they “tut-tut” over your latest black eye.
Plus, I don’t even want to talk about how it’s time to move you to a toddler bed. You just turned two! And you’re so short! And your arms are so skinny! How are you even shimmy-ing yourself up your crib posts like that?!
You’re talking so much that I’m going to have to start keeping a second book about all of the funny things you say. I’m sad that pen and paper can’t fully capture inflection, because your tone and expressions are what keep me clasping a hand to my mouth to hide a laugh as you utterly charm me in your moments of naughtiness.
The other day you were jumping on the couch. “Scarlette, Mommy wants you to sit down on your bottom” I said, patting the seat next to me. You stopped, cocked your head to the side, smiled disarmingly and replied “Noo-ah way-uh! I wan zhump!”
Um, I realize that you want to jump but WHEN DID YOU DECIDE TO START TELLING ME THAT USING COMPLETE SENTENCES? I was so taken aback that I almost didn’t catch you before you bounced right off the couch. But only almost. Like I said, impeccable reflexes.
You are often scolded for throwing your sippy cup, much to everyone’s chagrin. When you do remember to set it gently on the table, we thank you profusely. I settled you on the couch with it and when you finished, you screwed up your nose and then placed it firmly on the end table. Before I could applaud you, you spread your hands wide and said “WELCOME!”
Ever since you’ve been preemptively “you’re welcoming” us for everything. As soon as we hand you something that you want you yell “WELCOME!” before we can form a thank you and toddle off laughing to yourself as though you’re taking part in the world’s funniest joke.
We have a little dollhouse that belonged to your Aunt Jana when she was just a girl. From behind the sheets that I was clumsily attempting to fold (I will teach you many things, Scarlette, but how to neatly fold a fitted sheet will not be among them) I heard you say “Ni-ni. Ni-ni mackey!” And normally that phrase is uttered with your fingers clutching my pants, ready for a nap and in want of your pacifier. But you weren’t wrapped around my legs so I peeked over the sheet to see you playing with your dollhouse. You had swiped a washcloth from the laundry basket, covering a tiny bear with it like a blanket as you placed it in it’s little dollhouse bed and gently patted it’s back. “Ni-ni” you told the bear.
And then you sang it to sleep. I was a bit choked up, seeing you imitate us like that. Until I realized that instead of singing the lullaby that I usually croon to you at bedtime, you were softly singing the theme song to Super Why.
From sunrise to sunset, all you want to do is color. When it’s time to move on to something else (like say, eating food to support basic needs like survival) and I have to take your crayons away? You lose your ever lovin’ mind. “Cuh-a-woahs! CUH-A-WOAHS!!!” you shriek, throwing your body in the general direction of wherever I have tried to move the box of crayolas to. There is much weeping and gnashing of teeth when it is time to put the colors away. It’s really not a good look for me.
Your personality is so intriguing to me. You have such strong opinions and you’re fiesty and you’re stubborn. When it’s naptime I remove your shoes and you begin to shake your head with such vigor that I stop. “What is wrong, sweet girl?” “CHUUUEEESSSS!” you reply, “MINE CHUUESSS!” “But honey, you can’t sleep in your shoes. They’ll still be here after naptime, I promise.” You’re crying now “NOO-AH WAY-UH! CHUES!!”
And when you wake up, you’re pointing to them sitting on your dresser as I open the door.
You’re also so kind and sweet. I was crying as I recounted our visit to the doctor’s office, how horrible it is to have to hold you down, how frustrated I am that you hurt. And you walked over and started patted my back. “What is it baby?” I asked. Wide eyed, you tilted your face up to me “Okay? Okay Mama?” as if you weren’t the one who just had another invasive procedure.
“Prittees!” you say as we pass a house draped with tinkling lights. I slow down so that we can both take in this moment, you in wonderment of the trees strung with sparkles and me in awe of you, here with me.
Some days I hear my voice float harshly over us “SCARLETTE! I do NOT want to tell you again!” and dial a number “It’s one of THOSE mommy days” I tell my BFF as I try to coax the dog out from under the bed, where she’s hiding from you pulling her tail while you cry in the background from the trauma of your two minute time out. It’s real life here, me and you. It’s not all glossy and polished and perfect.
But His mercies are new every morning and when I open the door to your room in the earliest light sunbeams stream across your face and I am filled with joy. Every heartbeat I have is etched with the memory of almost losing you and pumps out a rhythmic reminder to embrace this time we have here and now.
You throw your arms wide and say “Moan-nin’!” which I assume means “good morning” and with you greeting me, it is.
It really is.
I love you,