Sunday, June 7, 2009

Dear Cadence: Month 23

Dear Cadence,

Never have I been so enamored of the word "rhinoceros" as I am when I hear you shout "Nosis, mama! Nosis chase! Nosis tickle!" and come after me with Baba's stuffed rhino from his childhood, one of the many toys you have a running relationship with these days. "Rhinoceros Charge!" shouts Baba, as the Nosis gallops toward you. You grab my neck and scream "no!" through a huge smile, and grab hold of me as I curl into a ball over you "oh no you don't, rhino, not my baby! I keep my baby safe!" and the rhino bounces off the mama shield and falls away, only to renew his charge minutes later. Other times, he'll come in for a Rhinoceros Tickle, which requires no saftey measures from mama, but produces loud shrieks of laughter and hugs.

Your sense of adventure continues to thrive, and this month, you tackled a new and very grown up challenge: Going to the Movies. It was the very first time we ventured to take you into a real movie theater, with a huge screen lighting up a dark, public room, with loud speakers blaring. As if that would be a big deal to one Cadence Ann.

It was a great experience, complete with junky junky popcorn and soda, and I think Papa Scott even slipped you some chocolate candy, too. It's the first time in quite a while (maybe even since we moved here?) that all of us have gone out together, to the same place, to do the same thing, willingly, even eagerly, with no foul moods tagging along to mess things up. Papa, Nana, even Kelly came with us to see Pixar's lastest work, Up. You were such a little lady, you sat on Baba's lap and occasionally munched on some popcorn, totally engrossed, until the final act, when you came to Mama's lap and had oh, 10 seconds of wiggles before settling in for the finale. Girl, you loved that movie. Especially the bird, Kevin. You loved Kevin. you laughed so loud and gleefully that it was hard for me as your mama to pay attention to the movie - I love those happy kid noises so much I just wanted to drink in your enjoyment. You enjoyed the whole thing, dogs, kid, a "guy" ("Mama, guy sad" you said towards the start of the film. "Guy happy now, Mama?" you asked, as it ended.) of course Kevin, and balloons! Really you loved any part that Papa Scott did, when he would laugh loud, you'd laugh even louder, and seemed to be delighting in his happiness as much as I was in yours. All in all, it was a huge hit, and a wonderful experience. We're looking forward to taking you back sometime, though I hate to break it to you that in all likelihood, not all trips to the movies are going to be this awesome, and I hope you don't end up devastated the first time you hit a clunker.

Another thing you've really taken to lately is singing. When you were a true baby, like barely more than a newborn, often times the only thing that would make you happy was for me to hold you to my chest, walk back and forth in our 475 sq ft apartment in east harlem as fast as I possibly could, while singing as earnestly and fully as possible. I am not exaggerating, I spent hours just pacing and singing and holding you close. Usually having your father come home would offer some sort of respite, but more often than not he wouldn't come home, and 6:00 would turn into 10 or 11, and we'd still be pacing, singing, (and sometimes crying) together. And you were an observant critic. If I began to fatigue, and slowed down, you'd notice and get upset, if I tried to sit, uh-uh, even bouncing on the pilates ball wasn't good enough, but the worst possible thing I could do was to make a mistake in whatever song I was singing. I imagine you could sense a change in my heart rate or something, some subconscious tension or change in my physical state, but however you did it, you knew if I messed up the words, or forgot the melody, and you would rally all your strength and scream with all the might in your tiny body. Oh, my little critic. perfectionist at birth. Apply that well and you'll go far. Just don't get caught up in it, ok little bug?

Anyway, with all that singing and critiquing and music (even once we discovered your soy intolerance and our systems were cleansed of the offending substance, it still took several songs for each nap and bedtime, and often returning to sleep in the middle of the night, before you could drift off. We didn't have strict schedules by the clock, but we lived by a schedule of music) I was convinced that you'd start singing before you began talking.

I was both correct and incorrect in that assumption, since you began singing wordlessly very early on, but you didn't really start to actively participate in our schedule of music until recently. Now, you demand songs by name and we sing the ABCs, the themesong to Elmo's World, Bingo, row row row your boat, Kailan, monkeys jumping on the bed, how much is that doggy in the window, and countless others with you singing right along. A personal favorite is Liang Zhi Lao Hu, in part because there was a period of about a week or two earlier this year where you wanted nothing more than for me to push you around the house in your stroller singing that song over and over and over, and it's quite gratifying to hear that you were actually gaining something tangible from that, besides some dizzy exercise for Mama and Pepper.

And that doesn't count the compositions you create! You refer to playing any musical instrument as singing, so you will bring baba to his violin and demand "sing, baba! sing!" or climb up to the piano and declare "I sing now, k?" And you will! You'll take requests for song topics, or invent your own without any outside input, and spin beautiful songs with them. You play the piano, plunking the keys delicately and in very specific, if sometimes unconventional, chords, in harmony to the melody you'll sing, the lyrics dancing around the aforementioned topics. You have one song you have repeated very often entitled "Mama's Shoes", which seems to be a favorite, though it makes me think that perhaps I leave my shoes around too much. There was one time I asked you to sing a song about breakfast, and the lyrics to this particular song were "Lunch! Lunch! lunch! oh lunch!"

You'll sing along to music in movies too, and you've even taken that a step farther, and you'll often recite the dialogue along with shrek, or any of the myriad books we read over and over...anythign that has a script you can recognize has become fair game for your own personal interpretation. It's beautiful to hear your spin on the situations presented in the stories, how you deliver each line, each phrase, each word - inevitably spot on in terms of what is needed in the context, but you are full of your very own, unique, vigor.

Your thoughtfulness has also continued to grow, and earlier this month you got to show that to your friend Kate, at her 2nd birthday party. You are pretty good with the idea of gift giving at this point, but it seemed to reach a new level with Kate's birthday gift, because you premeditated your gift of choice. We'd talked about the fact that her birthday was coming up, and that we should pick something out for her, but we didn't go shopping or talk about specifics at all. When we did finally go to the store to choose something, you were totally lost in playing with all the toys on the shelf - picnic baskets, dump trucks, any number of intricate little trinkets and sets. But when I would ask you if that's what you were going to get for Kate, you'd say "No, mama!" as if it was so silly that I would think such a thing.
"Oh. Do you know what you're going to give her?" I asked.
"I do!" you said, confidently.
"Oh, you do? Ok, well then, what are you going to give her?"
"I give Kate ball."
We showed you several options for balls, but none of them were right. You knew exactly what kind of ball you wanted to give her, and really, we're just lucky that target had them. In the end you found the perfect ball, a big, red ball, of course at the bottom of one of those big fenced in ball towers. But that was that, and as soon as we had it, you marched toward the checkout saying, "we pay ball now." And you were very proud to give it to Kate, in wrapping that you chose, and with the duck brush you'd seen a few weeks before and declared "I get duck Kate!" (we're still working on those prepositions.)

Speaking of, well, speaking...We have officially reached the point where we communicate with you almost exclusively by talking. You can talk. There is very little that you cannot express with words, and even if you don't have the specific vocabulary for what you're trying to tell us, you can usually find some way of at least getting at the point to where we can guide you through the rest of the conversation. It's breathtaking to consider that, in less than two full years, you have gone from the teeny little miracle that we birthed into this honest to goodness walking talking dancing giggling and freethinking miracle that spins us in circles on a day to day basis.

A fun perk to this phase is that you've become quite the little messenger. We'll ask you to go tell someone this or ask someone else that, and you always come back with a full report.
"Hey Cadence, can you go ask Papa if he wants to come with us?"
"Ok!" and off you scamper. We'll have just enough time to finish dressing before hearing little footsteps scampering back."
"I ask Papa coming too."
"what did he say?"
"He has work." You've also adopted the nightly task of letting everyone in the family know when dinner is ready. You seek everyone out individually, shouting if someone can't be found, saying "food ready, Nana! Time to eat, Papa! Coming eat too, Kelly?"

You've also taken to fooling people. Tricking them, specifically. And whenever you have successfully duped someone you do a little victory wiggle dance and say "I'm tricky!!" We've tried to explain to you that its ok to do sometimes, but not all the time, and that you shouldn't try to trick people into thinking that you're hurt. You seem to understand, but at bedtime will occasionally turn on the crocodile tears only to begin giggling and saying "I tricked you, mama!" Oi.

In other news, the water park is open once again, and my goodness but you couldn't be happier. You ask to go to the water park every day, you ask for various combinations of people to join you, and when you're there, you won't get out 'til you're shivering so bad we have to drag you out of the water. You remember how to kick and reach and blow bubbles and jump in (and hold your breath, so far!) and I have no doubt that you'd be able to swim alone by the end of the summer if we were actually able to practice each day. The one thing you seem unwilling to try in the large unknown of the swimming pool is to float. You do it beautifully in the bathtub, but it is evidently just a little too intimidating to do it in the vast expanse of water filled with other kids that is the pool. But, you will climb out on your own, and you've begun wading in up to your chest, and you love going down the little butterfly water slide on your own, once you get past the fact that the stairs to it spray water at you, and you seem almost annoyed at our insistence that one of us be there to catch you at the bottom. You are our little water bug; you love to swim, splash, wade, whatever, in the big waterpark or the little purple elephant pool Papa got for the backyard, the hose, the bathtub, or good ole rain.

The other big thing that has taken place this month has been your adjustment to me working. You don't like it, and I can't say that I particularly like it either, but you have certainly figured out how to make it work. You've been such a trooper, during my long tech days, and then once the show opened, the shorter but still upsetting days when Mama's off at the theater. It breaks my heart when I spend all day out and then don't get to see you for goodnights, but I come in and give you big hugs and a kiss even if you're already out cold. And the smiles in the morning! the glee when I get home, both in my heart and spilling out your grin, makes me feel like I'm flying. I love you so much, little lady. My awesome little bug.

I don't know if it is related or not, but something else you've been doing that represents a change in how you understand the world is your slight departure from tantruming. You don't throw yourself into fits of screaming or stamp your feet or yell when you encounter something
that displeases you; you've figured out that doesn't do you much good. Instead, you've taken to just 'getting sad''ll get a very sad expression on your face, drop your head, cover your face with your hands, and let the weight of your utter sorrow pull you to the floor, where you'll lay in a silent little heap of misery. I have to say, it's much more effective, though I am trying very hard, as your parent, to cut through the emotional manipulation this technique exacts on me in order to tell if whatever is making you sad is in fact something we should give into or not. You're a smart little bug, you are. And you've got that guilt thing down pat, already. We're SOOO in trouble!

And figuring out what you want, you certainly are. It's become part of the routine at bedtime, somehow, for you to request your baby, then sing her to sleep, then hand her to me saying "go, mama." and a few minutes later, you'll shove your pillow at Baba, "go, Baba." and then you'll settle in on the bare mattress, and drift off to sleep without any comfort objects at all. I guess this is a hold over from your infant days, when I adhered to every guideline about not keeping toys or blankets or pillows or anything but the baby in the crib...I guess that's what you now expect from a bed, despite the brief, unsuccessful backlash we went through once you were old enough for toys and real bedding, where you had about a bazillion blankets and your entire herd of sheep, plus your teddy bear and elephant and puppy, some nights.

Another sign of your maturation, and better grasp of language and social niceties, is the fact that you have mostly dispensed with your oh-so-cute "beep beep" in favor of the more polite "scuzee!" when you are asking someone to move out of your way. I should not that we didn't push for this at all, you just noticed that the words we were using were different, and followed suit. You'll still "beep beep" in informal situations, but most of the time it's your own rendition of 'excuse me' instead.

You have also taken to qualifying your affirmation of certain things that you really agree with by saying "OH yeah." Hey Cadence, would you like a fruit leather? "yeah yeah OH yeah." Do you want to go to the waterpark? "Oh Yes."

You've figured out colors and opposites, the latter of which you use to fuel much of your play throughout the day. During pat-a-cake, you'll linger on the "roooolllll it" portion, saying "Roll fast, mama! now roll slow! " and then "Pat loud, Baba! now Pat shhhh!" You have fully embraced your grasp on what opposites are, and I find this one of your more stunning accomplishments not because of it's level of difficulty, but because I can't remember giving you specific instructions on what "opposites" are, even once.

And perhaps the most exciting, and subtle, in a way, change this past month was your introduction to...(dun dun dun!)
Big girl pants!
Our venture into the world of potty training has lead us to this milestone, which is exciting and overwhelming in it's simplicity. We got you a fancy toilet seat that allows you to use the big potty without cutesy designs and plastic parts that make you feel like you're not being included in what the rest of the family gets to use, which is always a big thing with you. With that came more frequent use, and now we have reached the point where you only wear diapers while we're out & about and while sleeping. (Though that's mostly a precaution, you usually wake up dry anyway.) Sure we have some accidents; you are still learning, but we are super duper proud of our little bitty big girl, growing up so fast.

We love you little bug,

I am so, incredibly, overwhelmingly grateful beyond words to have you in my life, and I am so proud, humbled, and excited to be your mother.

Happy last month of your second year, my Cadydid.

Love Always,