Here we are, it’s February 17, and Mary Virginia is 20 months, one week and three days old. I thought about just skipping this month — I’ve done it before — but then I realized it would be a mistake. Blogging is getting harder; I have less free time during the day by and when the kids are in bed at night I’m too tired to do anything but watch three hours of the Bachelor. [THREE HOURS!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME ABC!?]
But, as I looked at pictures of Mary Virginia from this month, I remembered that I’m only going to do a few more of these. I stopped monthly updates for David after 21 months, when Mary Virginia was born. Soon, a new baby will come and the same thing will happen with Mary Virginia’s updates. So, consider this post part of an ongoing effort to savor the time Mary Virginia has left as baby of the family.
Also, I don’t want to forget that Mary Virginia had a runny nose for most of this month, and whenever I wiped it she arched her back, waved her arms, and kicked her legs like I was holding her head underwater.
Here’s a challenge: try to think of one word to describe someone you love deeply.
When I write these, I try to include things that would help someone know my kid. Last weekend I was visiting my sister and she called Mary Virginia a little punk, and a light bulb went off. Yes, Mary Virginia is a punk. That’s her word. She’s an adorable, sweet, cuddly little punk with a curl just above her ear. If you knew her, you’d call her a punk, too. How else can you describe a toddler who lays down on the couch and demands I put her to sleep — complete with song and blankets — but will not sleep through the night. Or will NOT put clothes on until I tell her that the clothes are someone else’s. That pair of pants? They’re her friend, Layne’s. These socks? They’re Gabby’s. OH! Those boots? They’re David. Shhhh, don’t tell. It works instantly. She goes from writhing to gloating and whispering, “I’m wearin Da-din’s boots.”
Whatever gets us out the door.
Mary Virginia is so verbal; it’s a daily source of delight to Tom and me. She’s a parrot, repeating everything we say. When I tell Tom to preheat the oven to 350, she walks into the kitchen and reiterates, “Pe-heat. Oben tree fidy.” Once I told her she almost fell down, and for the rest of the week every time her balance feigned, she stopped, looked up and said, “Oh. I almost fall down.”
Because she hears David doing it, she can count almost all the way to 10, and knows a lot of the alphabet. She can sing lots of nursery rhymes and some of the words to the theme to Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.
She also learned how to say “because,” and uses it like someone learning a second language. I’ll be talking to Tom, using a lot of adult words and to her, the whole thing probably sounds like, “Blahblahblahblah WHY blahblah.” And as soon as she hears WHY she perks up and says, “Um. DE-dause!”
Also from David, she knows these words: mine, my, no, stop, and — my favorite — I no like. She says: I no like Dada, I no like lunch, I no like ni-night. And, after she spent all morning chanting about playing in the snow and I wrestled her into a snowsuit and gloves telling her they were Gabby’s snowsuit! Layne’s gloves! She played for five minutes and then came back in, snotty and screaming: I no like this snow!
Mary Virginia is very, very opinionated about what she’s wearing. In the morning, she demands her red shoes and red jacket. I consent, and then try to find girly accouterments to make the outfit look a bit feminine. Despite my efforts, she looks like a boy most days. A boy, except for the a tiny pink stripe on her ruffly socks.
Mary Virginia loves playing with keys and ducks, and slinging a bag over her arm and saying, “Bye, bye, see you later!” She hates baths so much I’m not sure when I’ll ever manage to actually wash her hair. She loves eating yogurt, playing peek-a-boo, rap music, scowling at people who try to make her smile, and doing absolutely anything her brother is doing. She colors when he colors, they run laps around the house with their strollers, play monster trucks, and smother the cat together. She’ll even sit in time out with him. The only thing she won’t do with him is watch TV, because if the TV is on it’s probably because Mama needs some mental health time, which means Mama must need to hold her baby girl.
Oh, did I mention she has a wild streak. Unfortunately she’s a climber who loves jumping off things.
Even though she’s wild, she’s also sensitive and really, really dramatic anytime she gets hurt. At her very core, she’s a cuddler. She loves being close, very close. When you hold her, she tucks her arms under her body and wiggles until she finds a comfy spot. She wants to be held, hugged, curled up on a lap, and snuggled. David only acts like that when he has a fever.
Dear Mary Virginia,
I have an app on my phone that tells me that in around 85 days, you’ll be our middle child. Our baby will be here and your world will change forever. You probably won’t remember the days you spent as the baby of the family — the 23 or so months that I spent holding you, cuddling with you, and refilling your kitty cat sippy cup within five seconds of your requests.
With all the change coming, I hope we’ve set a firm foundation that will not change — that you are loved. That we love you so much and you are such a unique, important, wonderful, delightful, beautiful part of our family. You make us laugh and smile and grit our teeth. You help us slow down, read books, come home for naps, and look for pictures of ducks wherever we go. We’re so thankful for you.
At night, I’m sorry to say, you’re still dreadful. You wake up once a night and very, very early in the morning. Like 4:40 a.m., which is actually still the middle of the night. Still ni-night time.
When you wake up sometimes it’s because you need your blankets, sometimes you need me to rub your back and sing a song, sometimes you need me to rock you until you fall back asleep. On those nights, you nuzzle your head under my neck and struggle to get comfortable. You have two things going against you — my lap is getting smaller, and you’re getting bigger. (Actually, the problem is that you need to be in your bed.) But those moments when you shift and snuggle in my lap, remind me that you’re getting bigger. You’re growing and unfolding and soon you will be a sweet young lady. But you aren’t too big yet to snuggle with Mama. Not now, not ever, my sweet baby girl.