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Dear Zella: Month Eighteen

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Dear Zella,

For months and months, I’ve been putting you to bed. We would go in to the room you share with Ezra, just the two of us, and nurse a little, maybe read a book, sing a song, and into the crib you would go. A little while later, Sandy would bring in Ezra for his book and song from the iPhone, and you would barely even notice, either staying asleep or gazing quietly in our direction. This month, you let us know that you are done with baby bedtime. Nursing before bed is for suckers. You would like the fun times with the lights and the music and the brother and the giant bed, please, thank you.

Not that you’re done with special mama time or with nursing. You just want to do that first thing in the morning. When you wake up, you stand at the edge of your crib looking hopefully toward the door, calling “Mommy? Mommy!” I love that you call us Mommy and Daddy, by the way. Ezra called us Mama and Dada right up until he started calling us by our first names, which is a whole other issue. Let’s stick with Mommy and Daddy, sweetie.

This month you have been demanding things a lot. You want to walk instead of ride. Or you want the front seat in the stroller instead of the baby seat down below. Or you are at the fridge, pointing up and asking for cheese (“tzeeee”), pulling on the freezer handle asking for frozen yogurt (“iiiiiiiice”). You shove books into my hands and seat yourself in my lap. “More,” you tell me urgently, “book!” (“Moooo, baaaaa!”) Nana brought over some mega giant pipe cleaners, and you demand frequently in no uncertain terms that I wrap two (no more, no less) around each ankle like grass hula anklets.

You are so brave, constantly on the edge of playground structures or pools, gearing up for one of your patented step-off-the-edge trust falls. As soon as you are in my arms, you are demanding to be put back up so you can do it again. And even when you are not feeling brave, you cannot stop wanting to be brave. We visited a horse farm in Harvard, IL a few weeks ago, and each time you got close enough to pat a horse on the head, you completely freaked out and started screaming. And as soon as I walked you a safe distance away, you started pointing at the horse and urgently demanding “more, more!” We did it over and over again.

I had been wondering if you were ever going to love books and animal sounds (and the intersection thereof) as much as Ezra did, and the answer is yes. This is the month that that switch flipped for you. You suddenly love reading books over and over again, especially ones with a new animal on each page and something you can repeat. I find you flipping pages and reading them to yourself, or reciting parts of them as you wander around the house. “La la la…no! no!” you mutter, acting out the dramatic conflict of Sandra Boynton’s Moo, Baa, La, La, La. Or you flip to the page of your baby animal book where the bunnies eat the lettuce and sigh, “nummmmmy.”

There’s been some terrible teething, there was that one horrific 4am wakeup situation, and there was the time you vomited all over me after we went to the Wisconsin State Fair. But all in all, kiddo, you are 18 months of fun.

Moo, Baa, La, La, La,

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