Friday, April 25, 2014

A Letter to Indigo at 18 Months

My Little Man,

Sometimes I worry that you think your name is "Buddy" because we've called you that so much. We've been searching for a nickname for you since you were born. My first idea got shot down after a few weeks, but luckily your sister has come up with something adorable that we are all calling you now. I'd love it if you tried saying her name more often, just so we can hear how cute it sounds.

Right now you mainly just yell, "Elmo!" a lot. You are obsessed. You hear the song for "Elmo's World" and you get so excited. One time I thought you were going to jump out of the bathtub when it came on. And heaven help us if we try to bring you up to bed while "Elmo's World" is on!

We got you both little Elmo stuffed animals when we took away your pacifiers. I hoped it would be a worthy substitute, having your BFF hanging out with you in your crib. Boy, was I wrong. I feel absolutely horrible listening to you cry at night. You cycle up and down, upset and calm, each time making me think that you will now fall asleep. You are trying so hard to fall asleep, but you haven't learned to self-soothe yet, so it takes you over an hour. Periwinkle will cry with you for a little while because you are keeping her awake, and then she somehow drifts off into sound sleep while you are still going. But before she does, she tries to comfort you, rubbing your back and saying your name calmly. She loves you and just wants to help you. Can you help her and try to be calm as you are falling asleep?

Sometimes I take you out of the room to give you a break. We'll pull up the blinds in our bedroom and show you the cars going by. You love watching cars. When we're in the car and another one drives past, you say, "Car!" in this little voice full of wonder. I think they make you happy. This probably makes your great-grandpa happy, because he LOVES cars.

After this little interlude, and sometimes going downstairs for some milk if you are SUPER worked up, you'll go back into your crib and fall asleep. I'm not sure if you just need reassurance that mommy and daddy are still nearby, or if you're playing us because you know we'll come back, or if you just need more time to learn how to fall asleep without a pacifier... but I hope you get over it soon! Sometimes we don't get to eat dinner until after 8:30pm! But seriously, it makes me sad to hear you cry, and I hope you get better at bedtime soon, for your own sake. Sleep is wonderful. Trust me.

Besides our nighttime struggles, you have been a wonderful, sweet little boy. You still love snuggling, when you're not trying to con us into giving you more pretzels, or opening and closing doors, or trying to make a break for it out the front door so you can run around "ow-side." Sometimes you stand in the front doorway and watch the boys next door playing basketball, and I know you really want to go play with them. You love playing in the little house in the backyard, mainly interested in opening and closing the door and shutters and pushing the little doorbell. I love that you're so engaged with it.

I love watching you explore new toys, completely concentrating on how they work and what you can do with them. You and your sister quietly played with a new stacking train for almost an hour, without making a peep. It was fantastic! You shared, and took turns, and divvied up the toy, like such a big boy and girl! I was so proud of you. I love when you share, which sometimes you don't want to do. You get upset and sometimes hit and bite, especially at daycare. We are working on you finding other ways of saying, "I'm mad!" and I know you'll get there soon. When you are little you just don't know how to express how you feel. You don't even know how to know what you feel. Periwinkle sometimes just shrieks and throws food when she's frustrated she can't get out of her chair. I'm sure mommy and daddy did the same thing when we were little. It's okay. We'll work through it!

You are also a very helpful little boy. We ask you to bring your sister's lovey or sippy cup, and you trot right over with it. You shove it in her face, drop it, and walk away, but the intent to help is there. You are very chatty when you want to be, and very quiet when you want to be. You remind me of your uncle (my brother) in that regard. Your crazy reddish-brown curls remind me of him too, although the curls could also come from daddy's side. Your nonno and Zio Pippo have curly hair too. All I know is that I love it. You had such short hair for so long, and now it's growing and curling and it's pretty amazing.

Everything about this age is amazing. You make such fun, silly faces and laugh with such pure joy, I wish I could just exist in that moment with you always. I so love when you are happy. It lights up the room. I love watching you walk hand in hand with Daddy down the street, two men on the move. I love how exuberantly you hug your sister, and the sound of your "mwha!" when you blow a kiss across the room. Your high fives make my day, and I love the way you cling to me with such a firm grip when you don't want me to put you down (but I have to sometimes).

You may be a year and a half old, but you're always going to be my little man, my "buddy," the first baby I brought home, my little love.

Just stop calling Daddy "mama" okay? I'm pretty sure you know exactly what you are doing and how much it drives him crazy. But I think the joke has played out now, okay? Tell your sister to stop, too. He's "Daddy" or "Papa" or "Dada." Got it? Good!


Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Letter to Periwinkle at 18 Months

Dear Periwinkle,

I am constantly reminded of myself when I look at you. It goes beyond our similar facial features and wild, curly hair, though. You are a know-it-all, bossy little kid. You crack me up. If Indigo is doing something you know he shouldn't be doing, you call out to him with your nickname for him, waggle your pointer finger back and forth, and say, "No, no, no!" Then you look to me or Daddy for approval. I love that you are trying to help. It's adorable. But I must warn you to not become a tattle-tale. Sometimes breaking the rules is okay. Of course, sometimes you tattle on yourself, which is perfectly acceptable (and hilarious).

You have such a matter of fact attitude about telling your brother what to do, and about picking out books to read, and about walking from here to there and back again. You are full of confidence. I love that about you. But remember to be humble, too. Remember sometimes other people will struggle with what you find easy, and remember to have compassion when they need help to get there too. Sometimes you will want to help, and that is wonderful, but do it gently, kindly, and without making them feel badly about needing help. This can be a fine line to walk, but I know you will figure it out with grace and charm. Hopefully more quickly than I did. And remember that there will be times when you will require their help, and that you should accept their help with the same grace and kindness.

But all of this is rather serious for an 18-month-old girl, I suppose. You are still a baby. Or perhaps not. A toddler. You still shriek when you don't get your way. You still throw your sippy cup on the floor when you are feeling tempestuous. You still cry in the morning if we don't get you quickly enough. You still toss food on the ground instead of saying "All done!" and waiting for us to remove you from your high chair.

But soon you won't need the high chair. Soon you won't have a crib at daycare. You'll have little benches to sit on and cots to nap on.

In the morning you and your brother sometimes blow each other kisses. I wake up with a smile on my face on those days. We'll hear you say, "Where Mommy, Daddy?" and Indigo will raise his arms up in a questioning manner and say, with his voice dripping concern, "Oh, no!" I love it. And I also feel bad, so I scurry in there, or send Daddy in while I steal a few extra moments snuggled in bed. And you both break out in grins and start jumping up and down, so excited to see us.

Watching you two interact more and more has been the highlight of the past six months. You give each other hugs and kisses. You chatter to each other and make each other laugh. When your brother is crying, you get so worried about him, and you rub his back like you've seen me and Daddy do many times. It is perhaps the sweetest thing I've ever seen. Never mind that you, too, are unhappy it's bedtime. When he cries you reach out to comfort him. When he calls out for his Elmo or his "bankie" you bring him Elmo and his favorite blanket. You are such an amazing little sister to him. He is so lucky to have you.

Worried about your brother crying upstairs.

You saw Daddy blow his nose one day, and you just had to do it. Now if the box of tissues is within reach, you grab a few, hold them to your nose, and blow raspberries to make a similar sound. Then you delicately hand the tissues to me to dispose of. You are so into imitating everything we do. A clean diaper fell on the floor, and you picked it up and tried to shove it into the diaper pail. If you find scrap paper on the floor, you bring it to the trash and put it in. You like when we give you a paper towel to "clean" your tray, and you enjoy studying mail. I even got you to help Swiffer the floors once. I will have to think of other ways to have you help us around the house, while you still enjoy it!

I can't wait to see what the next six months bring. What new skills will you learn? What new funny phrases will you utter with complete seriousness, sounding older than you are? What will scare you, and what will intrigue you? The summer is coming, and with it such adventures!

Just stop calling me "Mom," okay? It's "Mommy" or "Mama." At least for a few more years, please.