A few weeks ago we all went out for pizza to celebrate our friend Julia’s graduation. You took your slice, and while I was casually chatting with friends, you methodically worked the entire cheese layer free from the crust and inserted it in your mouth whole. I only know this because a few minutes later, your dad looked at you, chewing away, and said “Hi Zella!” You took the entire fist-sized hunk of cheese out of your mouth, smiled, said “Hi!” and then reinserted it and began chewing again. Pizza is serious business for you.
You are serious about many things, but the most profound is your nod. You are excellent at answering yes-or-no questions. You understand a ton of words and you’re very clear about what you want. Where a month ago, you signaled your yes by sighing, this month, you have moved on to THE NOD™. Your eyes widen to take up half your face, your mouth sets in a serious line, and you nod deliberately and slowly. No giggles or smiles for you. You need me to know that you mean it. Yes, you like to tell me after naps, I would very much like to eat an entire avocado.
I am all in favor of you eating entire avocados my little peanut, because the doctor informs me that you are tinier and tinier percentile-wise. Nobody’s concerned, given that I was a very wee little girl too, but the doctor did encourage me to fatten you up a bit before your next visit. (I’m pretty sure she didn’t use those words.) So, avocados, spoonfuls of peanut butter, and lots of ice cream for you.
Ice cream actually saved the day for us last week, when a bunch of your lazy teeth started another round of their year-long trek to the surface. We were out at a restaurant, and you were inconsolable. So I gathered you in my arms and walked you, wailing all the way, to Walgreens, where I purchased some baby ibuprofen and an ice cream bar. We sat on the hot concrete outside the store and you chomped and licked your way to messy happiness, pausing only to wave and say hi to each confused patron who walked in or out.
Mid-way through this month, you went on a big adventure. Your dada and I got a night to ourselves to celebrate ten years together, and while Ezra went off on his own adventure to Grammy’s house, you spent the night with your doting Nana and Papa. I was anxious. Would you nap? Would you go to bed? Would you sleep through the night? Would you be pleasant? Would you eat? I need not have worried. By all reports you were a complete doll. Thank you, sweet girl, for getting yourself invited back for a repeat visit sometime in the future.
I was mostly worried because sometimes you are…difficult. Sometimes you scream for an hour after your nap or refuse to eat anything I offer you or refuse to play with any toy that’s not already in Ezra’s hand. Sometimes Ezra knocks you down or takes something from you and instead of bouncing back like you normally do, you completely unravel. But these times, stressful as they are, are small in the scheme of things. Mostly you are the cutest.
Each week for most of the last year, you have tagged along with Ezra to his gymnastics class. At first I just carried you, later you sat in the middle of the floor, then crawled, then stumbled, then walked around the obstacle course the teacher sets up each week. By the end of this month, you were determined to take on every obstacle. You climb, you roll, and you hang from the bars. And hang, and hang, and hang. After you fall, you demand to be rehung over and over again, twisting and kicking and grinning. I know what class we’ll be signing up for in August when you hit the magical 18-month age cutoff.
You love the park and the beach, and like at gymnastics class, you’re brave and self-directed. I turn away to look at Ezra, and you’re at the top of the tallest slide, carefully scooting yourself forward to the tipping point. I hand you a tiny shovel, and you’ve already got a bigger one in your other hand.
With a very serious nod and a very silly giggle,