Have you heard the joke about the interrupting cow? It’s one of my favorite jokes, and it goes like this:
A: Knock, knock.
B: Who’s there?
A: The interrupting cow.
B: The inte-
Living with Anna feels like living inside that joke, all the time.
Anna isn’t talking a ton yet, but it’s obvious that she’s completely aware of the rhythms of conversation because she is an expert at interrupting.
On the way to pick up Thomas from preschool, Anna babbles sweetly or is completely quiet. When Thomas is in the car and I ask him about school, before he can answer Anna shouts, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” She stops to take a breath and then “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” Until Thomas and I forget what we were talking about.
At dinner, we ask one of the kids to share their rose and thorn and as soon as someone opens their mouth Anna shouts, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”
She shouts all through dinner, stopping occasionally to take a bite, but never long enough for anyone to speak.
We don’t really know what to do about this positively adorable phase except trust that it will pass. Tom has tried politely asking her to be quiet and — “NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”
The kids have yelled at her to be quiet and — “NOOOOOOOOO!”
So we laugh, we ignore, and sometimes we join her, and we all shout “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” And then we laugh and laugh and laugh, and I smile because we might not be sharing our rose and thorn but we are absolutely making memories.
Anna is asserting herself more and more as an independent woman with a mission and an opinion. She goes where she wants, she does what she wants, and she knows exactly how to make her body go limp so that she’s impossible to hold. She has no qualms about shouting at anyone getting in her way, and unless you’re offering her a lollipop, she’s not interested in you.
Speaking of lollipops, as I handed Anna a lollipop in order to keep her from screaming through my run, I thought back about David, my first child. When David was Anna’s age, he legitimately didn’t know what a lollipop was. He never had candy, so when I bought candy for trick-or-treaters on Halloween, and he loved to play with the candy because of the bright, shiny wrappers.
This is not the world Anna lives in. Anna lives in a world with lollipops and the knowledge that beneath those shiny wrappers is something sticky and sweet.
It’s a better world, I think. Sure, we could stand to do without the extra sugar, but as a fourth baby Anna has a mom who isn’t bothered about what people think when it comes to lollipops and isn’t as ruffled by a two-year old tantrum.
This is, of course, not about Anna, but about my growth as a mom. The ability to shake my head and “tsk tsk” over tantrums did not come naturally. I used to wring my hands over David’s behavior issues. Parenting with the benefit of experience and hindsight is so much less fraught. The best part? I don’t care what anyone else thinks. OH if only I could have given my first child that great gift.
(Ok, so that’s not totally true. I a little bit care what other people think. But I’ve gotten better.)
This post is far too much about me. My last baby is approaching her second birthday, please do forgive me if I get a little reflective.
Anna continues to be the sweetest, cuddliest, most adorable little girl. Tom and I cannot believe how cute she is. Her cheeks (oh, please don’t lose your chubby cheeks any time soon, Anna!) her tufts of curls, the way she excitedly throws up her shirt to show us her belly. Once she was babbling and she started repeating nonsensical song, “Duck, duck, da nay-na-nay.” Tom repeated it and we all started repeating it, and a sing-song verse of “Duck, duck, da nay-na-nay” is one of the best way to change the mood in our entire house.
Speaking of mood, Tom calls Anna “Happy” more than he uses her name. It’s because when he says happy, she says happy, and she’s really, really cute when she says happy. It’s also because she’s just a happy toddler. She’s still a toddler, yes. So you go ahead and tell her it’s time to get in the carseat or put away those markers. But on the toddler spectrum, she’s a happy little duck, duck da nay-na-nay.
My mom asked what Anna wanted for her birthday and I shrugged my shoulders. What to get the girl who already has everything? She loves dolls, her daddy, and is developing an interest in (wait for it) ducks. She has plenty of clothes, and the entire first floor of our house is covered in two-feet of toys and art supplies. So that leaves…lollipops?
Anna is ready to be two. As much as I cannot believe my little bald-headed, blue-eyed baby girl is two, she’s ready. She’s growing, she’s independent, she’s comfortable with the space that’s growing between us. As has been the theme since I became a mother — they are ready for milestones far before I am. This is especially true for Anna.
And just as the fourth child gets the privilege of a mom with a steady hand, perhaps this is the disadvantage — a mom who has a hard time letting go.
I haven’t weaned Anna, and she is simultaneously a little girl who loves our routine, and also showing real signs of readiness. Last night I sat down with her and a lump grabbed my throat when I told myself sternly, “This isn’t about you.”
I spend all this time lamenting the passing time and milestones, but they always come, every time. No amount of sentimentality can stop the clock. And if I’m honest, I wouldn’t want to. Because when the page is finally turned, I don’t feel sad, I feel happy. I am proud, excited, in awe of what has passed and absolutely on the edge of my seat for what is to come.
Next month, Anna will be two. Let’s celebrate.
You love to take walks. You can walk much farther anyone would ever predict on those chubby little legs. You go, belly-out, arms swinging, chin tucked in determination.
When you walk, you squeal and point at squirrels (I call it squirrel-spotting) and are delighted by any other animal we see — geese, deer, neighborhood dogs.
Sometimes people are surprised that you can walk. Even though you’re tall for your age, people assume you’re much younger than you are because you don’t have much hair.
“Yup!” I say. “She’s almost two! She’s been walking for a while! She goes wherever she wants!”
And you do, off you go.
You are completely independent and steady on your feet, and yet you almost always reach for my hand. You love to walk with your little hand grasping as much of mine as it can. We walk, hand in hand. You reach out not because you need me, but because you want me. It’s a distinction I’m very aware of, and makes all the difference.