Letter to Bella: month twenty-one

Dear Bella,

Did you know that twenty-one month old little girls act strangely similar to twelve year old little girls? Let's run through the list: Diva attitude? Check. Random grumpiness? Check. Fascination with nail polish? Check. Determination to annoy brother? Check. Love of jewelry? Check. Desire for a pet? Check. Refusal to take no for an answer? Oh checkity check!

But while you may sometimes make me wonder if there's a pre-teen trapped inside your tiny body, you still fill us all with joy as we enjoy each day from your perspective. For instance, you celebrated your second New Year's Eve last month. Last year, you were a wee babe who still couldn't walk and slept peacefully in your pack-n-play. This year, you were an unstoppable force who had her first sip of "wine" (bka sparkling cider) and stayed up into the wee hours of the night. You also refused to go to sleep until you were pinned between Javi and the wall. And even then you were up and ready to roll at 9 am the next morning.

This big-girl attitude pretty much sums up how your twenty first month. On the first Monday of January, you began a real daycare center that comes complete with many children your age, cots for you to nap on, a nutritious lunch menu, and a full playground. Only one of these things mean anything to your cold, cold heart: the playground. You want to spend every moment of every day outside. You refuse to eat their food and often hide from the other children, but when someone says the phrase "let's go outside," you are the first little muppet through the door.

But you do love going to school every morning. From the time you wake up in the morning until I'm buckling you into your seat, you are banging on the door and yelling "ready!" or "hi kids!" For a child who seems to see children in the same light as furniture, you can't wait to get to school each morning and say hi to each and every one of them. Your congeniality isn't limited to them either. You wave and yell "hi!" to everything we pass on the way: the cars parked in the neighborhood (hi cah!), the stoplights (hi gee! hi rah!), the Bs in BB&T (hi beesh!), the big trucks often zooming up and down the main streets (hi kuck!), and the slide featured prominently on the school playground (hi swigh!).

You know what I love about you moving to a real center? Your language has exploded! You went from barely talking to gabbing non-stop all the time. You'll even make sentences! I realized you'd turned into a talker about 2 weeks into daycare when you came up to me and said, "I want eat eat!" You asking for food is always a show-stopper because you are such a picky eater, but I almost fell out of my seat when you used full sentence structure to ask for something as mundane as sustenance. Of course, you then refused to eat anything I offered you until I gave up and handed you a banana. Then you giggled and said "tahhk ew!" Now you simply yell "me nana!" and things get accomplished much more quickly.

Along with your verbal explosion has come the sweet little habit of singing along to songs. You rarely know any words except the last ones of each line and you sing so softly that I wouldn't hear you if I weren't listening for you. But it's so cute! At the beginning of the month your favorite song was "The Monkey Song" by The Giggles and Wiggles. You would follow the instructions in the song ("you gotta reach up high, now reach down low, you gotta carry bananas, wherever you go"). There was an entire week during which you would scream and thrash around if we got out of the car before you were threw singing about monkeys.

But then you fell in love with Ralph's World and now all you want to listen to is Edward the Tap Dancing Elephant. Except every once in a while you'll sing "Buzz Buzz" along with Laurie Berkner, which sounds something like "buh buh? buh buh!!!" I love helping you explore different genres and learn new ways to sing and dance. Music plays a huge role in all of our lives, so it gives us warm fuzzies to know that you are a little music lover already. You even enjoy singing without music. Often you'll break out in "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star"or the ABC song for no reason except that there's music in your soul and it must come out.

Music and playing create a well-rounded day for you, my sweet pea. But there was one day when your entire world shifted on its axis. And that mindblowing day was when you woke up to a world blanketed with SMOW! You almost lost your mind you were so excited about all the powdery white stuff. When it was finally warm enough for you to be outside, we bundled you in a snowsuit, hat, gloves, and boots fully expecting you to have a fit about being covered with so much material, but you just ran as fast as you could to the door.

Once you got outside, there was no stopping you. You stomped around, made snow balls, stood under the snow avalanche Javier created for you, and even laid down on your back and made a snow angel. Now, as soon as you realized that snow was cold - and especially when it touched your neck - you were finished with it. But that first 30 minutes was a glory to behold. We had another day of snow early this month but it wasn't as fascinating for you. You know, since you'd been there and done that already.

I have to wonder if God takes pity on the parents of young women by giving them these first few years to anticipate and prepare for what will surely be a deja vu adolescence. Just when I think I know what will fascinate and impress you, you change your mind and look at me like I'm crazy for spending what was surely hours of my time to produce something so ... lame. Snow Day #1 = amazing. Snow Day #2 = boring! 1st viewing of a new Elmo DVD = fantastic! 2nd viewing = so, do I have to watch the whole thing?

Luckily, we're as amazed by you as we are exhausted. Only God knows where you'll be the same saucy, sassy, smart little busy bee in ten years as you are today, but we'll relish every moment we spend finding out.

Love, Mama


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