Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Dear Mack - Month 21

Dear Maverick,

I hereby declare Month 21 of your life to be "The Month of No." or "Don't." or "Stop." It's not exactly that you learned to say no for the first time this month. But it seems you have suddenly grasped that no is a word you can use in your interactions with the world and to reiterate your strong personal opinion on whatever subject is at hand. According to the child development books you are a bit overdue on this and for that, I thank you. But I was not so foolish as to think that it would never happen. These books declare that this grasp of the word "no" helps you to defend and strengthen your sense of self by opposing others.

Ha. Hahahahaha. Ha. They are not even kidding. Obviously, I knew the day would come when you would learn this word, but the most surprising thing to me about it is how many different ways you say it depending on the situation and how emphatically you can let me know your opposition at the most inopportune moments. There's the cut tiny shake of the head business-like no, which you use when I ask you if you want more water. No, definitely not more water. Next question. There is your funny no, which you use when I ask if you will give me a kiss or do some other thing that you actually like to do. You always smile after you say no in that context, to show that you are teasing. Then there's faker-faker whiny moaning "no", which you use when I'm making you do something you really hate, such as have your diaper changed, your face wiped, or get out of the car seat, all of which are activities you are strenuously opposing these days. "Noooooo! Nooooo!".

And finally we have DEFCON "NO"...usually blended with "Stop" and "Don't" at very high decibels and with tears for good measure. This is for when you are really really ticked off at whatever it is you either need to do or stop doing or want to continue doing when I need you to stop. Usually this one kicks in when you are really, really tired. But not always. You like to keep me guessing.

This means that as a mom, I am working on what I believe is a fun game called Picking My Battles. I am proud to say that you now allow your teeth to be brushed without being restrained or making me afraid that I will lose a finger. This sounds like a small thing, but Maverick, this has been a four month battle. Four. Months. And it was worth it, because your teeth are important and I don't want them to fall out of your head. But I do not have months of my life to spend waiting you out on things that don't really matter, so the rest of our time together I am learning a giant lesson in Letting It Go. This is a big stretch for me, to say the least.

This "Letting Go" thing is HUGE for me. I'm learning through being your parent this month that parenting is a lot about letting go. I'm sure the parents of young adults would tell me I don't know the first thing about real letting go, but I'm trying to start small in the hopes that one day when you're a grownup I'll have some practice in standing back and letting you be who you are. I am learning that if it isn't hurting you, or inconveniencing others it isn't worth fighting over. However, for the record, when mommy says "no", mommy means "no". I am just making sure that I take a moment and be sure that I really mean "no" before I head down that path and all it entails. The following was a moment I just "let it go"...but not before taking pictures...

However, "Letting Go" is a much harder attitude for me to have when we're talking about something that does inconvenience me or is inconsiderate of others, like an upheaval in your sleep patterns or refusal to get out of the car when we arrive at our destination or defiance when we are out in the world. It isn't that I don't do the work I know it takes to get you back to normal when you go through a rough patch with sleep or discipline issues. I do. It's just that I'm learning that it's going to be a lot easier on everyone if I can let go of how much I want everything to be predictable and simple and fixed once and for all.

When I succeed in doing that, I am able to notice each day how much fun it is to be your mom instead of just dwelling on what can be hard about it. I know the fun is what I'm going to remember most about this time when you're all grown up anyway. And at the rate you're growing up now, I know it's all going to seem like yesterday.

You know where your eyes, nose, feet, toes, tummy, bottom, mouth, ears, fingers, hand and hair are now. I am not sure where you learned this as it was never something we worked on actively, but somewhere along the line you picked it up. More out of curiosity after reading yet more on child development and that you should know a couple of these body parts I gave you a pop quiz a couple of nights ago. It surprised me how much you knew! Clearly you have been paying attention...well done little man!

We have ditched the pacifier except for naps and night night which I am very happy about. As a result, your vocabulary is really improving and every few days it seems you have new words to share and still a good bit of gibberish that I cannot quite connect to something, but when I ask you again, you repeat exactly what you said before and are so animated that I know you have something really important you are saying. I am just trying to figure out what it is.

Sometimes I wish I had a Toddler Mack to English dictionary because I am truly interested in everything you have to say and as animated as you are it sounds like something really really interesting. You have a couple of two-word sentences, but I am not convinced that you dont just think they are one word. The one you seem to match up with other words regularly is "bye-bye.." followed by whatever has gone bye-bye. You definitely have a grasp on the following and what they mean:

Ball Bath Apple Bubble Bye-bye Bird Ice
Wow Whoa! Uh-oh What's that?
Trick or Treat (sort of - see previous post)
Cheese Agua Dos Go Duck Box Bite Book
Oh, wow! Radley (sounds like raw-eee) Hi No
Stop Don't Shoe Hola
Ta-da!!! - (cutest thing ever!!!)
Balloon (more like boon)
I do! (which you say over and over and over)
Rock,rock (as in rocking chair or horse)
All done/all gone (sound very much alike)
Up and down (usually used together)
Battery (strange I know)
Stuck (which you frequently get)

I think you are on the front end of the language explosion I keep hearing about but I dont think it has kicked in just yet. I read another fact stating that a 20 month old (or in your case 21 months) can be learning up to 10 words per day. How so very exciting. I can hardly wait to hear what you have to say...

I love you so much,


And one more thing we could never forget....Happy Birthday Bailey!

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