Oh, my sweet girl…
…where to begin. It just keeps getting better and better.
I could end right there, but future readers might find that lacking, so I’ll offer some specifics.
What’s big this month?
Well, besides Lily, your all-around #1 everything...
“HIDIN!” You want to hide every time someone comes to pick you up – whether Mema at our house or me and Papa at the Wolff house. One morning, we watch from the sidelines as you hide Paca, close your eyes and count to 10, then run around the house “looking” for him: “PACA! When ARE you, Paca?..I have a teesho [treasure] fo you!”
A family friend shares this perfection of a poem:
I'm hiding, I'm hiding
And no one knows where;
For all they can see is my
Toes and my hair
And I just heard my father
Say to my mother -
"But, darling, he must be
Somewhere or other;
Have you looked in the inkwell?"
And Mother said, "Where?"
"In the INKWELL?"said Father. But
I was not there.
Then "Wait!" cried my mother —
"I think that I see
Him under the carpet." But
It was not me.
"Inside the mirror's
A pretty good place."
Said Father and looked, but saw
Only his face.
"We've hunted," sighed Mother,
"As hard as we could
And I am so afraid that we've
Lost him for good."
Then I laughed out aloud
And I wiggled my toes
And Father said —"Look, dear,
I wonder if those
Toes could be Benny's?
There are ten of them, see?"
And they WERE so surprised to find
Out it was me!
I hope I never forget our hiding games:
“Where’s Emmy?...[trying to ignore uncontrollable wiggling under the blanket]...Is she in the kitchen?”
[the tiniest little disbelieving] “No!”
And so it goes until we finally find you, and you start squealing as you sense us moving closer and closer.
You even want to hide in your car seat when Mema drops you off – your “hiding spot” consisting of you holding a scarf and/or hat in front of your face.
What else is big this month?
In the media department:
The song from the beautiful Lava short is the most common sleep song. It’s magical. Frozen remains your most-requested car album.
Much to my chagrin, you see the movie Zootopia, and you dig it. At least it’s about animals…? On the other hand, you enjoy Mister Rogers from time to time, and the sight of you watching, spellbound, fills me with nostalgic joy. I see little Jamie, and I return to my four-year-old state of mind.
Books cycle in and out, but Good Dog, Carl has reentered the mix. I often catch you looking at the pictures and laughing. Happy Dreamer and Ish are common Papa bedtime books. Madeline and your Eric Carle trio are also top contenders, and Mema introduces you to The Color Kittens, which will always have a special place in my heart.
In the art world, you often choose stamps or stickers along with paint, markers, or colored pencils.
As for play, you remain a scientist. Your puzzle skills continue to astound, and you’re constantly trying to figure out how things work. You can twist open container lids, you love to play with water in the sink, and you play with playdoh or kinetic sand (Connie gives you purple) for half an hour straight.
You’re more interested in baby dolls. At the toy library, you choose a baby doll and a grocery cart. You love filling the cart with pretend food from your kitchen and “shopping.”
You want a band-aid every time you get the smallest boo-boo. Papa buys you the cutest band-aids called “Hug-a-Boo-Boos”: The middle part is an animal face, and the sticky ends are arms.
One evening, you request a bath “in Mama’s sahwer” [shower]. After about a week of this, I donate your small tub to Mama Goose, glad to finally be done with it. When you ask for it one night, I explain that I brought it to Mama Goose so other babies could use it. Momentarily distraught, you simply comment on it the following evening: “Mama Goose baf fo udder beebies!” [Mama Goose bath for other babies!] All is well, but, having also donated your booster seat after you choose to not use it for several weeks straight, I make a mental note to show you everything I donate beforehand so you don’t feel like I’m secretly giving your things away.
I make you a simple “reading cohno” [reading corner] in your bedroom. In the corner by your bed, I place that mat that Mema and Zaza made for you, two baskets of books, and a new square pillow with a fuzzy purple pillowcase. After I show you, you sit down, happy as a clam, and read for about 20 minutes.
You in a (Rather Spacious) Nutshell
You continue to grow and change, and somehow your face morphs into a more and more perfect face. I could start at the back of your two-whorled blonde head for hours. One morning in mid-March, you say, "I want pigtails like Anna." And so a new level of cuteness is born.
As for your personality, you are just as extraordinary.
I have to quickly mention the potty journey, just for the record. You're still fully in diapers, but you show more and more interest. I found a small potty at Mama Goose, which is more your speed than the insert I had for our toilet. You're known to carry it out to the kitchen to do your business, or pee alongside one of us in the bathroom. I've seen you run to the potty saying, "I have pee, Mama!" after clearly realizing it was time. So proud of every baby step on this long journey. Like all things, I know you'll decide when it's time to go for it.
You’re darn determined, always with a mission. This likely relates to your scientific brain, but also your passion for, well, everything. You’re so passionate, so dramatic. (As your Papa would say, “Shocker.”) There are too many examples to choose from, but let it be said that you are not one to take things lightly.
You have such a goofy sense of humor. True, some of it consists of typical toddlerhood, like making funny sounds, wearing my giant rain boots, and calling things nonsensical names (or “poo-poo”). Yet it goes beyond that. You get the biggest kick out of going under my or Papa’s shirt and sticking your head out the top. I catch you laughing at books like Good Dog, Carl, aka “Goot…Cahd…Cowl” (that’s a tough one), and guffawing to yourself. And we both love doing “bellies”: pushing our naked bellies together.
I call, “Dinner time!” and you no longer fuss: You simply run over to your chair (formerly my chair, at the head of the table, which you usurped, and wipe your hands with the wet washcloth by your placemat, ready to see what’s on the menu. Dinner is a highlight of every day, whether we’re telling stories, dancing in our chairs to music, or making silly faces together.
You’re brilliant. I know, I know: says every parent ever. But your memory, for one, is unbelievable. One evening, you and Mema are looking at the blanket that her coworkers made for her. You point to the word “Run” and say, “Dis day ‘Run.’” You proceed to identify every other word on the blanket as Mema points to them: cheers, be kind, love. She tells me, “I think we went over those words once, about a month ago.”
You’re so kind. At Viva’s one evening, you hold the watering can to take home. Wally loses it, absolutely beside himself because he also wanted to borrow it. You watch him with wonder, like a scientist observing the craziness that is human behavior. Papa says, “Do you think Wally can borrow it tonight? You have your green one at home…” And you hand it to Wally, who says, “Thank you very much, Emmy.” I hear about this secondhand, but I can only imagine the sweetness.
You’re so affectionate and empathetic. You express such concern if Papa or I have a boo-boo. Every so often, I react to something like dropping flour all over the floor or the like, and I have to reassure you that everything is okay as you burst into tears. On several occasions, you’ve picked up on my stress (hustling, obviously having a moment), and, when I seem calmer, you say, “You okay now, Mama?”
And those gentle face touches you give as you stare into my eyes-slash-soul take my breath away. Are you for real?
You seem older than most other tots your age. So aware, as you have been since birth. You don’t miss a beat, and, well, you’ve got our number: “Dere is Papa wawa and his wine. [There’s Papa’s water, and his wine.]” Even when we think you’re not listening, you are – intently.
You know what you want, and you can make meaningful (and not so meaningful, but still important) decisions. I decide to go for it and buy you some tot-friendly nail polish after you want to wear some of mine. Hey, life is short. I choose a few options and show you pictures: “Would you pink, purple, and blue; pink, purple, and green; or purple and pinks?” You immediately point and say, “Pinks” and I have no doubt in my mind that you know you want that one.
You’re already a negotiator…
You: I want honey in my mouf.
Me: No way! That’s so silly.
You: (pause) Papa do it sometime.
Papa: That looks like a good kiwi.
Papa: May I have some?
(That said, you’re usually remarkable at sharing.)
You understand the concept of “If this, then that.” I can say things like:
“If you eat two more broccolis, you can have a fig newton for dessert” and you stuff two more broccolis into your mouth.
“Okay, we have time for one more activity [at the Sciencenter]. What would you like to do?” and you choose one more thing and leave without a fuss afterward (sometimes).
“We can do that after we get dressed” and you run into your room to get dressed.
Everything seems easier and even more joyful somehow.
Communication and Brain Power
It’s constant. You speak in full sentences, and we can have full conversations. You distinguish between “is” and “are,” “this” and “that,” “you” and “me” – and you sometimes speak in the past tense:
Papa brought my muhk!
I made a funny sound.
There you is, Mama…(pause, then quietly to yourself) There you are.
Papa: Are you wearing your winter boots?...Me: Yes, I am....You: Yes, you are.
You say things like, “Look like saying ‘Yes’” when you see the tree branch shadows moving up and down on the window shade.
Some common phrases and sounds these days:
“Member?” [Remember?] For example, you hold up a purple crayon with small teeth marks on it and say, “Member I eat dis lahs time I a baby?”
“Lahs time” [Last time]: This is your catch-all for anything in the past, and it’s absolutely precious.
“Tell Papa/Mema/Ba/Lily…” (that you made a funny sound, that something happened, etc.)
“I dust want ____”: “Dust” is “Don’t,” but it sounds very must like “just,” which leads to many misunderstandings.
“Scared” has entered your world, as in, “I’m sceewed fum sumpin!”
You’ve adopted my “Teh” laugh sound, which cracks me up more than anything else in its inadvertent sassiness.
"WHAT!" This one cracks me up. You use it exactly as one would, to express surprise.
Other words and phrases we heard this past month:
The other popo hat Paca wear yesterday.
“Papa tees me.”: Papa changed me. (You say it three or four times before pointing to your diaper when I don’t get it)
(seeing the bowling alley out the car window) “I want go dere!” (excited laughter) “I member dat bowee awee!”
“I WAT TB.” (Emphasizing “watch” seems to be your way of “asking.”)
“I’m so syk-ed!”: I’m so excited (for brunch with Amy and Andy)!
(reading I See A Star before bed): “Papa don’t do wight…Papa funky.”
(on the way home after a long morning): “I’m. So. Tired.”
“I cahn’t do it myself”…“I did it!!”
“I want a sahk agee-in!”: I want a snack again [another snack]!
Me: “Is Paca in your room?”...You: “I looked. He wasn’t day-er!”
(seeing the steam rise from the food I put on your plate) “Is hot! Be keefo Mama! Don’t buhn yosef!”: It’s hot! Be careful, Mama! Don’t burn yourself!
Me: You used to love those when you were a baby!...
“I saw one more pea.” (on the floor)…“Macaroni place here.”: This is where I’d like you to put more macaroni (on my plate).
“I didn’t finish my muhk!”
“It’s wet cause I taking a baf in yo sowo.”: The sock is wet because I brought it into the bath/I gave it a bath in your shower.
(trying to say a new/challenging word) “I said wong way…”
(driving by the ice-cream stand) “Membo we hahd ice-keem?…Membo Zaza was heeo lahs yeo?”: Remember that we had ice-cream? Remember that Zaza was here last year?
“I hunt my eye…” (a few minutes later) “My eye all beddo…Membo I huht my eye?”
(overheard) “Iss okay, Orly…You be fine…I carry you like a beebee.” (You smile shyly when you catch me smiling at you.)
What happened fum dat?: How did that happen? (How did I get that cut on my hand?)
What's gonna happen fum dat?: What's going to happen? (looking at the egg I just put in the frying pan)
(Looking at the green background in When the Sun Rose)
Me: Those are woods! A forest like the one we walk in with Papa.
You: Iss scawy!
Me: It’s scary? Why is it scary?
You: Dey have a wolf in dere!
Me: A wolf?!
You: Dey beddo hide! [They’d better hide!]…Emmy hide, too!
And a few of my favorite words:
goss: gross (You exclaim this after I show your poo-poo, which you always want to see.)
goo-ool: school (This one takes me a minute to understand.)
neeku: thank you
pee-in: pen (agee-in: again)
bee-id: bed (hee-id: head)
soppy cowt: shopping cart
But my absolute favorite words as of late? “I want suggow you.”
I want to snuggle you, too. Forever and ever.
We hear your first singing, and it’s the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard. The first song is a very passionate rendition of Can You Feel the Love Tonight from The Lion King (“CAHHHN you few toNIGHT…”) The second is a song that you MAKE UP YOURSELF and sing out of the blue during a morning snuggle session:
Yayo bird way up in dah tee…Yayo bird you look wiwee sahd dus like me.
[Yellow bird way up in the tree…Yellow bird you look really sad just like me.]
I’m sorry…WHAT. WHO ARE YOU.
Your appetite and eating habits are sporadic, but one brunch stands out: You eat one four-inch waffle with berry compote, one scrambled egg, half a bagel with cream cheese, one slice of bacon, raspberries and applesauce, and two slices of tomato. It’s like the hungry caterpillar’s Saturday free-for-all.
Other sweet moments include playing in the snow, the three of us – pulling each other on your sled – bowling and “partying” at Atlas with Amy, Andy, and Chandra (your happy place), and realizing your obsession with putting socks on your hands is because Elsa (Frozen) puts gloves on her hands (solving this huge mystery is a mind-blowing experience!). During a bedtime reading of Madeline, we get to the page with her scar. You pull up your sleeve and ask, “Wheh is mine?” I say, “You don’t have one yet, but you’re a wild woman. I’m sure you’ll have one someday.” You say, “I want one” and ask to see mine.
You are adorably self-conscious about your belly showing when a shirt rides up, and sometimes, when you want something, you look up at me with your hands clasped and your eyes wide, “I hab mo sahk?” Yes, darling girl. You can have more snack.
I love to say, “Emmylou, I have something to tell you!” because you run over and stand, looking at me with such expectation. When I tell you the happy or fun something, you smile and/or just start giggling with excitement.
We’ve even introduced you to mindfulness. When you’re simply beyond, having worked yourself into a blithering tizzy at bedtime, I say, “Let’s take some deep breaths. I start with an exhaled “Sshh” sound, but you try and say, “I cahn’t do it…” We switch to “blow out the candles,” which works for you.
I listen to a Meditative Story podcast with Isabel Allende, as she remembers her two-year-old daughter:
She’s a strange kid, and I’m madly in love with her. She’s the most important thing in my life…I have something that doesn’t feel temporary. I’m a mother now, to this little, generous person. I will always be a mother. My thoughts will not be about just myself ever again.
That evening, you return home with Papa. I hear your little voice call to me from the bottom of the stairs: “Fow sees for da bowds! [I threw (apple) seeds for the birds!] Fow sees for da bowds, Mama!”
I watch you as you hurriedly walk up the stairs – which you can do one at a time now – holding on to the railing with one hand and your beloved Paca in the other. Your blonde hair is in two thin ponytails, and you’re smiling. In that moment, I’m filled with love like none I’ve ever known before.
You’re my girl, and I’m your mama, forever and ever.
With each month, my love for you grows more fierce, more Mama Bear. I cannot stress it enough, and I hope you have the joy of experiencing it yourself someday if that journey is yours to take, but mama love defies the laws of physics.
My little lady, I have no doubt that you’ll be able to hold your own no matter the crowd. You’ll get your needs met. You’ll spread kindness and affection and light. You’ll be a powerhouse no matter which paths you forge for yourself. And forge you will.
I love you.
Love, Your Mama