Letter to Bella, month seventeen

Dear Bella,

Hi sweet pea! I say "hi" because that's your favorite word these days. You say hi to your room when you wake up, hi to the skeleton taped onto Javi's door before we head down the stairs, hi to the living room, hi to your toys. And, if you don't know something's name, you simply say "Hi this!"

But then you spot the kitchen and immediately sign for more while whining "moh!" because the kitchen is where you get your delicious warm hot chocolate first thing every morning. Once you get that cup? You have no interest in anything else. You drain it and then you throw it down in disgust and sign for "moh"! I have to give you something else or you'll bang your head on the gate and whine "moh!" until you either pass out from a concussion or break through the gate - and neither option bode very well for me.

Your signing has become second nature. You sign for more when you want something, whether you've had some yet or not. You rub your belly to say please, you sign "in" when we toss your toys back into the box, and you sign "up" when you want me to cart you somewhere. Luckily your vocabulary is growing by leaps and bounds - but even if it weren't, you're a little sass who knows exactly how to tell people what you want and when you want it.

Speaking of language - you are a talker! You tell everyone "see ya later" after you tell them "bye" (even if they're just going to the bathroom), you say "cracker," "juice," "more," "in," "whatcha doin," "ready to go," "yes," and "no." No happens to be my favorite, because when you get on a streak, you'll say no to everything. "Bella, want a million dollars?" NO! "Bella, want a chocolate fountain with marshmallows for dipping?" NO! "Bella, want McPalin for president?" NO! (Okay, I couldn't help myself...)

You've branched out in the world this past month as you neared the 18th month mark. You wave bye (see ya later!) to me when I drop you at the baby sitter's, you sit like a big girl in your wagon while I chauffeur you around the neighborhood, you hold my hand while we walk to or from the car, and you can spot my or your dad's cars from anywhere in the parking lot.

I think I realized you're no longer a baby when we took you to Ham's for kids' night. Mickey Mouse was there to entertain the children and instead of freaking out, you giggled at him and screamed whenever he tried to leave you to visit another child. Of course, you sort of froze when Mickey put his big gloved hand on your back - but you didn't react as I thought you would. When Javi was your age, we would've avoided oversized freakish characters like the plague. Your brother wouldn't even pose with Santa until he was six years old!

Another sign that you're turning into a little girl instead of a baby: We had a tea party! You emptied out my picnic basket and brought me plates, spoons, and cups. We then sat around the ottoman and pretended to enjoy something delicious. Each time the spoon or cup hit our mouths, we had to say "UMMMMM!" (just like that) and every few minutes, we had to swap plates - most likely so that we could taste each other's scrumptious treats.

I imagine there will be many more tea parties in our future. Javier tried to fight the party, but he wound up down on the floor with us eating that pretend food with as much gusto as we did. You're going to drag us (sometimes kicking and screaming) into the world of little girls. Tea parties are the gateway to princess parties, mother-daughter mani/pedis, ruffley dresses and fairy wings.

But I welcome that balance. I'm so tired of wrestling figurines, UFC matches, martial arts movies and zombies that I'll support you in whatever path you choose - even if it's a traditionally feminine one. So bring it on - I'll be ready with pastel pink nail polish and embellished hair barrettes, patent leather shoes and puffy dresses, glittery lip gloss and matching outfits ...

You, my dear monkey-muffin, are my absolute favorite little girl in the entire world. I will move mountains to see you smile. I will rock you quietly to calm your tears. Whatever you need, whenever you need it, I'll be there for you. Always and forever. You have my heart in your hands.

Love, Mama


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