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Dear Zella: Month Twenty

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Dear Zella,

In the middle of this month, you were suddenly the same age that Ezra was when you were born. I keep repeating that fact, saying it in different ways (Ezra is exactly twice your age), and it still seems totally improbable. We keep trying to figure out if you seem older or younger than Ezra seemed at this age. You’re so much smaller, but you talk so much more. You don’t have to adjust to a new baby, but you do have to hold your own against your big brother.

And hold your own you definitely do. This month has been all about “dofe” for you (more accurately spelled Do’f, as in “DO it by myselF.”) You want to climb the stairs do’f, put your shoes on do’f, pick your clothes out do’f. When it doesn’t work out, it’s no problem, because you’re ready with your next demand: ah-me (“help me”). Our days are a constant alternating stream of do’f and ah-me.

You are immensely interested in two word phrases, trying carefully to repeat them when I use them. LITTLE baby. COLD oatmeal. Your word for oatmeal, mayo-mayo, is very adorable, and the fact that you use the same word for tomato is cute as well. You are suddenly fascinated by people’s names, and in just the last week you have started calling out for best buds Momo and Ingrid by name (Momo is easy, Ingrid comes out more like “Ghee.”) We went over to Levi and Stacey’s house for dinner, and you repeated “Tsaytsee” over and over again. Then you learned to say Bob.

The most important word of the last few weeks has been stripy (“sie-see”— see also, “spicy”). You love stripes, and carefully comb through your drawers to pull together stripy items. The other night you demanded stripy leggings over your footie pajamas. The next day it was a stripy shirt, stripy leggings, and stripy socks. You kept looking down at yourself and exclaiming with delight.

Your love of fashion has been an eye-opener for me. When Ezra was a baby, I would sometimes inwardly roll my eyes when a friend would say something like “my baby only wants to face out” or “my kid wanted to wear two different shoes.” I thought, come ON. Kids don’t care about that stuff. Because Ezra didn’t. And then you came along, baby, and taught me that some kids do indeed care about that stuff. Your outfit is not complete without a pair or two of Ezra’s underpants on top and maybe a bohemian bag, too.

I feel like your love of books is emerging a little later than Ezra’s, probably because I just have less time to read you the books you would like to hear. But it has emerged, and strongly. You have favorite books, and you’re starting to name them and point out things you remember on the pages. You are finally tall and strong enough to get to all the book baskets and hunt for what you want. You aggressively control the page turning, sometimes defiantly skipping most of the book and then forcing me to read the pages in backwards order. This month you learned how to “do tummies” so we can all lie down on the floor to read books together, instead of fighting over limited lap space.

This month marked one really big milestone for us, and I don’t mean your first haircut. You are fully weaned. I had been diminishing our nursing sessions for a few months already. I stopped nursing you before bed the month you decided you wanted to be part of Ezra’s bedtime routine, stopped nursing you before naps once I realized that saying “let’s read books instead!” actually sounded like a good option to you. Then, in the middle of the month, I went to a three-day doula training. It meant two nights away from you, two mornings without “noosh.” I made the decision to stay the second night on the fly — just suddenly felt that you and I were probably both ready to wean. In the intervening weeks, you have proven me right. Each morning for the first week you asked for your wakeup noosh, but were fairly easily distracted. After a few weeks, you no longer ask every morning, and I no longer feel a little pang of sadness at no longer nursing. We were ready to move on to new adventures. Less noosh, more mayo-mayo.

Hugs and kisses and stripes of all colors and sizes.

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