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Dear Zella: Months Twenty-five-six-seven

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Dear Zella,

I should have written this a few weeks ago, when the shine was still on the apple of your turning two. I am always telling people that two is so much easier than one, that the terrible twos is really the terrible one-and-a-halfs and that two year olds are so great. And, truly, for the most part you are amazing. And I will spend the next paragraphs detailing the wonder that is you at two. But let me pause for a moment to mention that you are currently insane. You seem to have gotten into some kind of developmental feedback loop that is impossible to break. You CAN change your mind, therefore you MUST change your mind. Over and over and over again. You want it, you don’t want it. You like it, you don’t like it. Your mind is so busy turning over the possibilities that you can’t possibly fall asleep. You want to be in bed, you want to be out. In, out. IN. OUT. IN! OUT! Our evenings with you have been long recently.

Sometimes these epic internal battles are played out in nerve-shattering whines and cries, and I’ve been trying to breathe deeply and wait it out. But I will say that sometimes you manage to be hilarious and adorable even in the midst of your insanity. I love it when you do finally come to peace with an option, and let me know that you are serious by grabbing both of my cheeks and speaking it practically into my mouth. When you are very serious, you pronounce each word very slowly to make sure I understand. “I. Want. To. Go. To. The. Park. SARAH.” Then you nod, to make sure we’re in agreement.

You make a lot of declarations these days. My favorite: “I do it BY. ALL. MY. SELF.” I also like “I hurt myself!” especially inasmuch as what you actually mean is “I got hurt,” and frequently it was technically my fault. If Ezra suggests something (“I want to put sticky tape all over the table”) you turn to me and repeat it as fact (“We going to put sticky tape ALL OVER THE TABLE. Sarah.”) And you narrate with glee as you go about your daily adventures (“I going to go on the whale by all myself. I going on the whale! I on the whale, Sarah!”)

It’s been a big couple of months for cousin love, and you are a most beloved of cousins. First there was cousin Becca’s bat mitzvah, for which you happily donned a crinolined party dress and clutched a purse for five hours. Hoisted aloft by Poppa Pete and Alla, you surfed through the crowd, batting your giant eyelashes. Poppa Pete hid a dollar in your purse, and even a few months later, you still open it up expecting new dollars to appear like it’s the magical Chinese box in the folktale. There is probably nobody in the whole extended family more devoted to you than your second cousin Chava on my side of the family. At passover, a trip to the zoo, and her brother’s bar mitzvah, you occasionally had to beg to be allowed to stand on your feet, so determined was she to give you the full princess treatment.

You also enjoyed making new friends in New York a few weeks ago, playing with your cousin River and a bunch of kids-of-our-friends, absorbing everyone’s names and adopting their toys. You loved New York’s amazing playgrounds, rode the subway like a pro, and even went along with our rebranding of a pack ‘n play (which you haven’t slept in since November) as “Zella’s special bed! With special walls!” You even, to my great delight, were mostly a doll during your special sleepover with Aunt Lilli and Uncle Jed (and, as you would never let me forget, their poodles Rufus and Bessie).

You still love Ezra best of all, and want mostly to do whatever he does. He’s teaching you to play his violin. He drags you down slides by your ankles, careens you down the hall on his bike, and, once, carried you from the bathroom to the bedroom in a giant bear hug. Of course it’s not all hearts and giggles with you guys. Sharing is hard. But you are the very model of a fast-learning younger sibling. When you guys squabble over a toy, if I say “Zella, when can it be Ezra’s turn?” you immediately say “six minutes,” a unit of time you got directly from Ezra’s mouth (it is, for reasons known only to Ezra, his platonic image of just enough time).

This spring you love turtles and ice cream and Timmy Time and eating breakfast several times each morning. You love it when I hang you from your feet behind my back and say “where’s Zella?” You love putting on your own pants and your own sunscreen and picking out your own shoes. You love all of Ezra’s classical music, but when he’s not around you want songs with words. You can sit with a marker or crayon and draw tiny circles for amazingly long stretches of time, and you are so very close to being able to do a somersault BY. ALL. YOUR. SELF.

You say “I love you” spontaneously sometimes.
I love you, too, zoobledoo.


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