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Dear Zella: Month Eleven

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Dear Zella,

A few nights ago when I was nursing you before bed, you took a break, as you often do, and hauled yourself up to standing on my lap. Looking straight into my eyes, you brought your forehead right onto mine with a little clunk. “Clunk!” I said, and you giggled. And then you did it again. And again, and again, and again. Clunk, clunk, clunk, giggle, giggle, giggle. After a little more nursing, you decided you were done, stood up on my lap, patted me on the shoulder and said “Nigh-night! Lalalala!” I mean, it wasn’t quite that clear, but still, that’s what you said. So I picked you up, patted you on your back, and sang you the nigh-night song, and laid you down. You are a girl who knows what she wants.

Here are some things you want: frozen blueberries (all of them in Ron Swansonesque fashion), Ezra’s toys, to eat my nose, to be tickled under your armpits, to stand on the dishwasher door, to eat with a spoon (unless I am holding it), and to drink from Ezra’s sippy cups. You do not want various other things, including to sleep through the night. Alas.

At your age, Ezra was beginning to stand unassisted. You’re not quite as interested. But Ezra never walked while holding our hands and fingers, which you love to do. I won’t be surprised to find you walking before you can stand very well. It would fit with your headlong personality. This month you are incorrigible when plunked in a high chair. The moment my hand is off you, you are like a tiny Houdini, wriggling from whatever cheap seat belt I’ve strapped you down with, so that you can stand up and crawl onto the table. I’m trying to figure out how to fashion a shoulder harness to bring to restaurants.

You continue to think that your big brother is the coolest thing ever. He can make you giggle better than anyone, and you are always eager to go where he is. This month we started constructing forts for him out of couch cushions and blankets, but the first time we did it, he was a little hesitant to crawl through the dark tunnel. Not you. You dove right in, and for weeks we have been watching the two of you follow each other in and out of there.

You are always smiling and giggling right up until the very moment his hugs turn into full-body head-slamming tackles. We are trying to teach him to be more gentle, to avoid smushing your head on the floor, to get off you when you start crying. These things are harder than you might expect to teach a two year old, and so we’ve taken to hoping that the experience will toughen you up, make you even feistier than you’re already cut out to be. At the very least, it can be something to complain about to your friends and therapist in later years.

I can’t believe how close your first birthday is. I remember feeling like Ezra was such a big kid around this time, but now, in comparison to him, you still seem like a baby. I have to remind myself to set up more toys for you, to read you the books he loved at this age, to find an eye in the storm that he is constantly whipping up in the house to have some quiet time with you. A baby and a big girl all at once.

Love and clunks,

Mama

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