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lulu letters: month 34

Dear Lulu,


My love...


One morning, we’re all driving and listening to Frozen. You suddenly call out from the back: “Now it’s bof dere tohwns!” [“Now it’s both there turns.” as in, “The next song is both Anna and Elsa.”] You proceed to announce the singers of all songs before they come in, until the last one, “Now issa tows tohwn!” [“Now it’s the trolls’ turn!”]

 

Someone recently described seasons around these parts as bipolar: summer is manic, winter is depressive. That pretty much sums it up—summer is chaos, and winter is a whole lot of nothing *cough* a time to hunker down because not much happens for months at a time.


So, our summer mania continues. The adventures include:

  • Grassroots!! Your third, and you officially love it as only a wild flower child can. I put your hair in braids, Amy gets you a hair wrap, and you wear sparkles and necklaces and bracelets. You run around wearing the silk rainbow wings from Mema, and I am in awe of you.

  • Amy's birthday celebration, including the most joyful Darts dance party imaginable at Wagner's with so many of our beloveds and a big celebration at the Russells' homestead. You sit on Amy's lap as we all sing to her, and you help her blow out the candles. This is our beautiful life.

  • Your first play!! We attend a Hangar Theatre Kidstuff production of No Pigeons on the Bus—you, me, Mema, and Amy. We sit in the front row of the tent space. You spend the first half staring silently. At some point, you start talking about wanting to touch the puppets and the giant stuffed dog that makes a guest appearance. All in all, it’s a raging success.

  • Blueberry picking: We try a new spot with Mema. I pick five pounds of blueberries, and you eat about two pounds. The next day at Viva’s house, you warn her about “blueberry poops” before you go. (You had your first the evening before.)

  • Finally meeting your Perl cousins!! Third time's the charm. They got sick, you were possibly exposed to COVID-19, and we finally made it there nearly three years into your life. You attached to Josie and had the time of your life with her on the NJ fair rides. I was happy to give you two that time and look forward to future kiddie rides with you. When you outgrow those, I'm out.

 

You communicate clearly and effectively, using the correct verb conjugations and tenses to an impressive degree. I can ask questions like, “Which part did the kids think was scary?” (“Da paowt wheeow Hans puts Elsa in da bed.”) and “Why do you think you felt sad?” (“Because I didn’t want to go home.”) It’s all just so much fun.


Here are some choice words and common phrases of yours this month:


  • Did you heew dat? (to one of us, usually after the other one says something)

  • WHAT?!

  • Mama, would you like a fig newton when yo done with yo dinnoh?

  • (As you put worry dolls under your pillow) Please don't go yet.

  • (After three bedtime “pee breaks”) Papa: Don’t call us in to pee anymore…I won’t. I’ll just pee in my diapo.

  • (As I try to arrange her dolls in bed) Please don’t take off her wrap.

  • My back is keeky! It’s tellin me I have to poop. (morning back cracking)

  • (Choosing which part of Frozen to watch) I want da powt where she bees Fohzen.

  • But Anna doesn’t bees fohzen in Fohzen 2. Dat’s it! Dat’s da toos. [That’s the truth.]

  • I found Nemo!..So DAT was da plahbem [problem]. (You cried the night before when we couldn’t find him, and the poignance didn’t strike me until you found him the next morning.)

  • Maybe when I be a gohwn up we will buy me some gum and I will eat it all up.

  • I love yo belly…SO muts…I’m sowwy, I didn’t mean to whack you in you in the eye….I’m keepin you…Me and Papa are keepin you. (All in quick succession during morning snuggles.)


And, my personal favorite quote of the month:

  • Me: Why did you cry when I picked you up?

  • You: Because I didn’t like your outfit.


Words:

  • doo: stool

  • Hango Feedo: Hangar Theatre

  • foo: smell

  • bursay cowd: birthday card

  • chickmunk: chipmunk

  • blocky: broccoli

  • alvum: album (as in, “Alecka, pay the Fohzen alvum.”)

  • danegous: dangerous

  • gay borden: gray building

  • Tayda Dohs: Trader Joe’s

 

Our biggest developmental accomplishment this month: YOU ARE OFFICIALLY POTTY-TRAINED! I throw away the diaper pail after keeping it “just in case” for the past several months. GOOD RIDDANCE. I also pack away your diaper caddy for donation and give Viva most of your diaper collection. (I keep just a few…in case?) I finally take the final step and nix the diapers overnight. You go a full week before having your first accident. We made it, my little bean.


Your independence continues in the bathroom. At Pepaw’s house, you run to tell me excitedly, “I got on the potty all by myself!! And I wiped all by myself!!...I’m yo age!” [I learn later that you mean “I’m your weight” because you enjoy using Pepaw’s scale.] In other words, you’re independent in the bathroom which means you’re an adult. Basically.


Some fun toilet talk:

  • Please, I want to wipe my own sehwf.

  • Please. Go…Please. I have to do the sink all by myself.

  • Papa, May I come in? I have to go pee pee…That’s a lot of pee pees. FIVE pee pees!

  • You got me new toilet paypo!…I love it…Neekoo. [Thank you.]


And our favorite:

  • Papa: Can I have some privacy?

  • You pause, slowly close the door, and say thoughtfully, “You may.”

 

You continue to be an adventurous eater. I put all kinds of things on your plate, and you often at least try most of them. I see you stuff some kale or spinach in your mouth, and I think, “Food: Check.” One morning, I serve you and Papa eggs at our kitchen island. I see my future, and it’s rosy. When you finish, you throw up your hands and say, “Clean. Plate. Club.”


You love rituals as much as ever, sitting and waiting patiently for Papa to finish the dishes so you can eat your post-dinner Fig Newtons together.

 

Bedtime continues to be a wild ride. Some nights are beautiful. Other evenings leave us in a withered heap after you call for us up to ten times. One morning, you tell Papa, “My bone hurts…fum kyin so much last night.” [from crying so much last night] Your rib bone.


You totally mess with us, yet we continue to go in because there’s absolutely no difference between a call that means, “I can’t find Paca and “I have to go pee” or “Dis moosick is keery.” [“This music is scary.”] The calls for pees slowly decrease, and I finally search for a solution. I find an idea to try: Set an alarm for 30 minutes after we tuck you in, after which we don’t go in. I explain, “Okay, when the light turns on, we’re not coming in anymore—and we’ll see you tomorrow.” You seem to understand.


The first night, you scream after the light goes off…and continue screaming for about ten minutes. I hear you start to do your quick breath intakes, on the verge of (almost) hyperventilating. It rarely happens anymore, but it used to happen when you were younger. I finally give in because it’s too painful to hear your cry like that. You say, “I need a tissue.” I give you a tissue and some long hugs and kisses, and you’re good to go for the night.


The second night, you cry again after the light goes off…but it’s silent after just a few minutes.


The third night is pretty great. We’ll see how it continues. You do say, about a week later, “I’m not gonna call you in. I’m a big goh.” Well, there you go.


Still, we can’t help but feel amused when you say, “Please don’t go yet!…Now you can go.” You have us wrapped.

 

I look at you and imagine aged snapshots of the perfect image I have the joy of witnessing in real time and treasuring as much as a golden memory. A few that come to mind:

  • The back of your neck and funky little hair part as I braid your hair.

  • Your bow-legged “cowboy stance” for your diaper (which is now NONEXISTENT!!!!) and when I wipe you (which is rare these days, as you always want to do it yourself)

  • Lying in your “bun”: our comforter rolled up around you like a burrito (“Make a bun! Put da blanket be on my eyes!”)

  • Your pursed lips as you give 100% focus to drawing or painting

  • Your perfect little butt as you run across the floor, soaking wet, to jump on Papa

  • Rubbing my cheeks or holding my chin as you look deeply into my eyes in a silent moment of grace

  • Slowly and carefully carrying in my lemon water for me on a weekend morning

  • Sleeping, your arm wrapped around a fuzzy friend or flung across your bed as if you rolled over and passed out

  • Taking care of your babies or fuzzy friends

  • In your car seat, singing to yourself as you look out the window, or smiling and saying, "Yah!" as I turn briefly to respond to a story

  • Swimming at Lodi Point, lying in the water with your floaties, trying out the idea of kicking your legs, not quite fearless

  • Skipping stones with your trademarked throwing technique

  • Running around with your friends or dancing and spinning like a barefooted wild child (all by yourself) at the farmer's market

  • Reading with Papa, the two of you completely engrossed

  • Sitting next to Pops, the two of you looking at each other and talking quietly

  • Greeting Mema with the biggest, snuggliest hug imaginable, holding on to her like you haven't seen her in years

  • Laughing with Zaza

  • Sitting on Pepaw's lap, looking for hidden objects in an I Spy book

  • Screaming for us at bedtime... Oh, wait, nope. AH! That’s one I want to push away. Forever.


As I type this, you’re screaming for me for the fifth time within five minutes. I want to throw in the towel. But I won’t.


Because now you’re asking Papa to change the music. And I get that. I totally get that. This is one of the many reasons I know you’re mine: You’re particular.


We just put Hug-a-BooBoo bandages on your newest bug bite constellation. Poor sweet-blooded child: They adore you. I know it hurts, and it’s itchy. If I could, I would protect you from all bugs for the rest of your life. But I can’t.


Because it’s not my job to protect you from everything. That’s one of the most challenging aspects of parenthood, my love. Knowing you can’t do it all. Knowing that sometimes, like today, you’ll literally fall flat on your face and scrape up your forehead and perfect button nose. And all I can do is give it kisses.


Well, I suppose kisses are pretty magical.


I love you.


Love, Your Mama


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