Dear Elsa: a letter at 18 months





Little girl, somehow you have been with us for a year and a half, and I am thankful for you every day.

You are beginning to communicate in earnest. You look right in our faces and speak paragraphs upon serious paragraphs of babble; you point at the things you want with the authority of a military commander, and you speak an Elsa language that we are beginning to understand. You’ve got down Mama and Doddyyy, and you’ll switch between Ohwoe and Owie for Owen. You greet the ringing of any phone or the arrival of anyone at our door with an enthusiastic hiii or haawo! You have just started saying ov oo for “love you” as we say goodnight or as you say goodbye to people (you first tried that out on your Grandpa Ron after a weekend in Alexandria). You’ll give us a low-pitched no when we read books with burning questions like, “Is this a duck?” You stick your finger up your nose and say shhhhhh; you’ve got the hang of keys and cheese (both the food and the smile-prompt); when around your baby buddy, you sing-say Ollie over and over, and just last week, I’m pretty sure you said oriya for gorilla; even Owen heard that, and he raised his eyebrows in surprise. I can’t wait to hear more of what you have to say in your sweet little voice.
Your walking has turned into an almost-run, and you live to climb. You scale Owen’s loft with ease, and we are ever pulling you off of the dining room table. You give any playground equipment a courageous try, and more than once, we’ve caught you trying to climb our backyard fence in escape. You and Owen play a game of tackle-wrestle; you love to swing bats and throw balls. One of your very favorite things is to be chased and then swung up into a tickle. You are a lady on the go.

elsaWe’ve definitely found your mischievous side, and I think I know where you learned the word no. You take off running away at the mention of a diaper change. I have found you hiding in the kitchen, methodically removing every ziploc bag from the box or tucked away quietly in the corner of the living room, stuffing stolen snacks into your face. That’s the thing – you’re so sneaky and quiet. Owen would always give himself away with chatter, but not you. You’re stealthy. You shake your head no, directly at us, even as you attempt the forbidden, like that time when you were eating sand out of a cup, and when I removed the cup, you quickly stuffed two handfuls of sand in your mouth, shaking a sly no. Or the multiple times a day you try to get into our alley. You eat mud. You pick up a log to chew on despite our frantic cries not to. You wail mournfully when removed from something off-limits or when we refuse a snack that you have your heart set on. It’s a stage that’s come and gone already, but for a month or so, when we would say no to something, you’d lay down and give us a stern and disapproving look from your beautiful blue eyes. We called it your silent protest because you wouldn’t flail or scream, just lay there, annoyed.

But overall, Elsa girl, you are so, so sweet. We have this little inside joke, where you look at me and shrug. When I shrug back, you point at me, and I point back, and you burst out laughing. You are still a champion sleeper. You blow kisses and serenade me with ov oos as I leave the room after laying you down. You and Owen are finally sleeping in the same room at night, and the other night, as we exited the room, you were sitting in your crib, smiling and waving goodbye. Your dad and I laughed because that experience could not have been more different than our goodnights with Owen when he was your age. You love to snuggle, and you still lean the whole weight of your warm little body against mine when we read books. I love that about you.

You are always ready for a laugh, and your ears are ever perked for a burp or fart which is beyond hilarious to you. You begin wide-armed clapping and bobbing your little booty up and down at the slightest hint of music – from the cars with volume up outside our window to a 5-second commercial ending, you love to dance. You swing sweetly along with me when I sing you goodnight, and the way you carefully pluck at your dad’s guitar strings make me think you’ll always love music.

Your love for animals has not waned, by any means, but you are also a lover of people. You light up when new kids come to the park. You run to greet your dad when he comes home, and yell bye over and over as he heads out the back gate. You love to play with Owen, and you’re getting the hang of block-building and chasing games with him. You give full bodied hugs, and you kiss things you love in books. You’ve really grown in your love for books too – bringing us the same ones over and over, delighted at all the same parts.

Elsa, I think your dad pegged you tonight. We were at the playground, and you were fearlessly climbing a structure that gives Owen pause. You were determined. You were quiet, and he said he thinks you will be a peaceful person, but not passive. And my heart kind of soared, because in so many ways, that is the person I wish to be, but I struggle with the peaceful part. But you. Oh in you there is so much possibility. So much room for goodness. And I can’t wait to know you more.

Love you, Honeybear!

Your Mom

An Addendum: I just don’t want to forget this. You are showing yourself to be such a girl lately, and I love it. You look adoringly at me as I brush my hair. You bring me my head scarves and hold them to your head. You are ever finding clothes – your clothes, Owen’s, your dads, and bringing them to me with an emphatic “eh eh eh,” only happy once they’re on your body. And shoes. You love love love to go through your shoe bin, taking them out, one by one, and looking on them with love. You bring us shoes – most often the pink ones – and parade around our house in mismatched pairs, usually with your pink teddy bear scarf flung around your neck like fashion week. I love this part of you so much.

Things You Love: bunny, paci, books (Goodnight Gorilla, The Hungry Caterpillar, Hi! by Ethan Long), videos and screens of any kind, our phones, being chased, playgrounds (you make exclaiming noises every time we drive by one), Ollie, Owen, snacks (graham crackers, animal crackers, cheese, grapes, any fruit really), pretending to drink my coffee and saying “ahhh,” baths (laying back!), bubbles (you call them bubbie!), slides, climbing, music, playing your piano, going through your shoe basket, bringing us clothes you want to wear, wearing your teddy bear scarf around, eating tomatoes from the garden, bikes or scooters of any kind

Things You Hate: diaper changes, getting dressed, anything we keep you from or say no to, when Owen gets angry at you and pushes you away




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