Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mummy, I grown into a big girl

Dear Bethany,

You just turned 22 months, and yesterday you told me, "Mummy, I grown into a big girl."  So I thought it might be nice to write this letter to you so you know what your life was like at this age.

At the moment, you go to daycare 5 days a week.  I say 5 days, but the truth is that you rarely actually go all 5 days.  That's the thing about daycare.  At daycare you pick up every cold / flu / bug going around, and then once you have it, you can't go to daycare, so someone has to take the day off work and stay home with you.  Which kind of defeats the purpose of sending you to daycare in the first place.  It is the classic Catch-22 for working parents.

You always seem happy when I drop you off at daycare and when I pick you up, although when we get in the car lately, you often say, "I no want to go to daycare."  I'm not sure if it's the trip (25 minutes in the car) which bothers you, or whether you're caught up doing things at home, or whether it's actually something about daycare.  You don't yet understand 'Why?' so I can't ask you that.  I'm told you have been pushing and pulling the little ones a bit.  There have been lots of new little babies join your group and I think you are feeling uncertain about how you fit in and are wanting more attention.  I talked a bit to you about feeling jealous of the little babies getting all the attention.  You've been away and sick a fair bit, so I think you're not really settled into the daycare routine at the moment.

You are also definitely pushing boundaries a lot more deliberately to get attention and see what you can get away with.  You like to go up to something you are not allowed to touch, look at me and touch it, then giggle and run away if I start to walk towards you.  In other words, you are a normal toddler figuring out how it all works.

You try hard to make people happy too.  Yesterday, on the way to daycare I asked you what happens at daycare.  You said, "I no push the other babies," as though the message had sunk in and you were reminding yourself.  I see you sometimes think about what you're doing and stop, sometimes tell yourself 'no'.   You tell me when a character in a book is sad and give them a cuddle and say 'sad, feel better'.  You like to help hand me the pegs when I hang out the washing.  When I'm cleaning the kitchen I give you a scourer sponge and you scrub the step on your highchair clean.  I am trying to teach you to use a 'strong voice' instead of whining and you try really hard.  You are also spontaneously assertive when you want to do something yourself.  You were building a tower today and calmly informed me, 'mummy no touch dis one' when I sat down beside you.  If we're chasing and tickling and you've had enough, you tell me 'no mummy, no more'.  Whenever you manage to do something you found a bit challenging, you say 'Good work Bethany!'

Sometimes you experiment with mess and sometimes you really like order.  Tonight when you had your bath, you decided of your own accord to neatly put all your bath toys back on the ledge, get out of the baby bath, tip the water out, and put the baby bath's plug back in.  Then as we left the bathroom, you requested to turn out the light.  You seemed very satisfied with yourself.  I tend to make you pack up one activity before getting out the next one, and you seem to accept that pretty well.  Sometimes when you want to do something new, you call me over and ask me to help you pack it away.  Often once we pack away, even if you were initially reluctant, you will say, 'All nice and clean.'

You are intensely curious about everything.  Your favourite phrase is, "What dat one?"  Usually you want me to tell you the word for an object, but sometimes you want me to explain what it is or how it works.  You remember so much and your language is coming along in leaps and bounds.  I see you can understand more than you can say, and often get frustrated searching for the right word.

Your favourite activity at home is playing blocks and puzzles.  We have some wooden blocks, duplo, and most recently lego, which you call the 'liddle bocks' (little blocks).  You have started to build your blocks into all kinds of things.  You have built a 'horsey giddy-up horsey', a 'man body', a 'house', a 'picnic', and a 'cake happy birday to you' (it has duple flowers for candles and you sing happy birthday, it's so cute).  You also like to arrange your blocks into patterns.  We have lots of wooden toddler puzzles - shape sorter puzzles, puzzles with pieces in the shape of numbers or letters, and animal puzzles.  You are just starting to be able to do stacking puzzles where you have to arrange the pieces from biggest to smallest.

Your Nanna Rain got you a beautiful doll's house for Christmas, and I have got some furniture and animal figurines for it.  You like playing with it, but mostly what you do at this stage is to take the furniture and figurines and match it to examples from real life.  I'm regularly finding the sink from the doll's house in front of our kitchen sink, and the little fridge in front of our fridge.  You find pictures in books of the animal figurines and put the animals with them.  You like play dough, painting, drawing, and stickers, but usually for only very small bursts of time.  Your drawing is becoming a lot more purposeful.  You deliberately draw in particular spots on the paper (eg. draw scribbles in each corner), and deliberately draw circles, and scribbles and lines going in particular directions.  You are very pleased with your drawing and tell me: 'I drawing mummy!' or 'I draw a eye!'.

You love to feel that our family is a unit.  When you make us cups of tea or food with your tea-party set, you always say 'Bethany have some' then offer to me, 'Mummy have some', then 'Daddy have some'.  Sometimes you just say 'Mummy, Daddy, Bethany!' like those names in combination are the most awesome thing in the world.

You like to sit down somewhere then order your Dad and I to sit down on either side of you.  You know and are excited to speak to Granny, Granddad, Nanna Rain, Nanna Rose, Grandpa, Jane, Aunt Steph, Uncle Leighton, Aunt Megan, and Uncle Luke.

You love me to read you books, although the strange thing is that you don't really have a favourite book.  You never get stuck on a book and want me to read it a hundred times.  You might want the same book for a week, then you start choosing other books instead.  I have bought a few books but we go through them so fast that mostly I borrow them from the library.  You like books with rhyming, or where there are simple actions you can do.  You are starting to be able to tell me what is happening in the book.

You love counting, and I think you are on the verge of really getting the hang of it.  You often hand me three objects and say 'three'.  You can say the numbers in order up to thirteen and then hit and miss to twenty.  Often you will count objects and quite deliberately count a separate number for each object (so that you get the right total), but often you will still rush on saying the numbers without counting out particular objects.  You recognise any numeral from '0' to '10' and know what to call it.

You are just starting to get into imaginative play.  You love blowing bubbles, but we also play a game where I blow imaginary bubbles using a stick and you run around and pop them.  The other day we sat in your hula hoop on the grass and pretended to be in a boat on safari down a river.  We spotted rhinos and tigers, and waves, and another boat.

We've been doing a lot of toilet familiarisation, but you don't seem ready for toilet training.  You are not able to anticipate (or not interested in telling me) when you are about to go.  Also, you can't pull your pants up and down very well by yourself, so I think we'll put that on the back-burner for now.

I am sleeping back in bed with your dad now.  Mostly, you sleep through the night unless you're sick.  Sometimes you stir and cry out for me, but if I say "Bethany it's night time, go back to sleep" through the monitor, you usually do.  Recently, you had an ear infection that you couldn't shake for about a month, even with antibiotics.  That, combined with travelling, has made for a lot of disruptions to your routine and made you a bit grumpy and clingy.  But I think you are starting to settle back into things.

You are still pretty fascinated by letters.  You have learned to recognise every letters.  I can point to any  upper or lower case letters and you can tell me its name.  'B' of course is your absolute favourite letter.  You are fascinated that a 'w' is an upside down 'm', and if you find one you keep moving around it saying 'upside down now m, upside down now w'.  Lower case 'b' 'd' 'p' and 'q' hold a similar fascination.  You understand letters form words, though you don't quite understand how.  You have some wooden blocks with letters on them and you line them up in rows and tell me you are 'making words'.  I have always said things like 'A for a-a-apple' so you will often say 'A for apple' if I point to an 'A', but are only just starting to associate some of the letters with their phonic sounds.  I'm now trying to emphasise the phonic sounds the letters make, but this is new to you so we're a fair way off being able to sound out words.

You love to sing.  You pick up songs so quickly and you also are not too bad at getting the tune and rhythm right.  You particularly love the 'ABCD' song, and have two Sesame Street versions that you love to watch through Youtube.  One has some artistic licence with a couple of notes and if I sing that version, you tell me I am singing the one with the 'one lady', because you recognise the difference.  The other involves tap-dancing.  Today you found a pair of my shoes which were closest to what the tap dancers wore in the video and tried to sing and stomp in time with your singing.  You told me you were 'dancing like the ladies in the phone' (you've been watching Youtube on my phone).

I am so privileged to have you as my little girl.  I am very sorry that the first time I cut your hair I gave you a mullet.  I have trimmed the back now so it's not so bad.  I'm not quite willing to go through the pain of taking you to a hairdresser and persuading you to sit still, so you will have to do with the bodgy haircuts I give you for now.

Lots of love,

P.S. Its mothers day tomorrow and I'm looking forward to my cuddles!

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