My dear, sweet girl, where do I begin? You are growing in leaps in bounds, each day leaving some of your babyness behind, growing into this fierce and fun little girl with personality. Your face is still round with beautiful, big blue/hazel eyes. They are striking, and your hair is long and shoulder-length and frames your face perfectly. You are so, so beautiful Elsa, and I see these glimpses of what you will look like as a ten-year-old, and it’s then that I quickly glance down at your legs to make sure that one little baby roll is still left on your thighs to remind myself that you’re still my baby girl.
You are just this girl on the go, Elsa. We are always saying how coordinated you are, what good balance you have. You climb like a monkey – at the playground, on our windowsills, suprising us by calling, “Mom! Mom!” when you found yourself stuck high in the tree in our backyard. You can climb our chainlink fence, and you live for finding a way out of our backyard into the beloved alley (is it the giant alley puddle that draws you there?). You climb to towering heights at playgrounds, with ease, often wanting to come down in ways that are meant for kids ages 10 and older. We say this all the time: you are such a good climber. You’ve taken a couple of hard falls, but overall, your hand/eye coordination is amazing, and you are really strong. You can run and kick a soccer ball with ease. You jump off the couch, off playground surfaces, with gusto, swinging your arms and tucking your legs up, flying through the air, lately doing this little arm-roll just before you jump like it’s some kind of circus trick. You jump on the bed, yelling boing! boing! like the Minions do, and you learned to climb out of your crib just a week before Lewis was born, which you now do about 8 times a night, thumping down to the floor, slyly opening your bedroom door, and ducking down in the hall, thining you’re out of sight as your dad and I play rock,paper,scizzors to decide who will deal with your disobedience.
But I’ll be honest with you, Elsa. Even after the sixth time out of bed, I have a hard time being mad. You have this twinkle in your eye that speaks more to mischief than disobiedicne. You look back at us in the act of playing in the toilet, or close your eyes as you reach up to the countertop for a forbidden phone, as though that will prevent us from seeing you, and it’s so cute. I have to hold back smiles and laughs as I speak sternly or teach or discipline.
This is not to say you are without a sin nature. Turns out you really do have one. And you have learned to throw sitcom-worthy tantrums…over asking for a diaper change and then screaming like a crazy lady when I try to put on the new diaper…that you asked for. Or when you came to the hospital to meet Lewis and freaked out when I told you there wasn’t a baby in my belly anymore. Or when we refused to put on your puffy, pink winter coat on a 90-degree summer day. You scream, and stomp your foot, and lay down when we should be leaving the park, and yell out these grunted yells of anger when things aren’t going your way. Or better yet, you do this exaggerated pout; you slump your shoulders forward and look down like Charlie Brown (or George Michael). But even still, its somehow still cute and I have a hard time taking you seriously.
You are also rather sneaky and quiet in your mischief. Owen would talk and babble his way through missteps, but not you. A common refrain is, “Where IS Elsa?” and we find you tucked on the floor of the far side of our bed, hiding with the “pie-pad” or coloring on walls or splashing in the toilet or eating chalk. You have a penchant for dragging a stool over to the linen closet where you have full access to all the creams and soaps and other things that would make you sick if ingested. It’s infuriating and funny all at once. This summer, you snuck into the diaper bag, probably looking for my wallet and all of its treasured cards, and somehow found a bag of prenatal vitamins with adult tylenol. I came around the corner and saw the bag in your hand and asked, “did you eat this?” as I pried open your mouth for a look. You answered yes, as did Owen who was right there near you, and so to the ER we went. All their tests found no traces of any of it, and so $1300 later, we knew you were okay.
But despite the tantrums and the sneakiness, you’re just so fun and loveable, Elsa. You still have this quiet spirit. You are independent and do not mind playing alone, though more and more, we hear “Pay wif me, Mom!” You will sit and read book after book off the shelf, piling the read ones around you like a little nest. You play magnets and blocks, and pick up foam blocks and say, “Dis is daddy. Dis is Owee. They watch a vee-yo. They have a fire.” You sit with the “guys” and play castle. More often than not, Owen comes to see and wants to join in…and I think, in your own way, you are teaching him that playing independently is actually kind of fun.
You love to run and jump and climb. You love jumping in puddles and playing in sand and mud. You love to pick up worms. Your legs are always muddy with bruises and dings and mosquito bits, evidence of your full days. You love to swim and are so happy in the water. I take you out deep into the lake, where I can barely touch. With your floaties on, you paddle your arms, and kick your legs out behind you, letting all the water below you hold you up. You are at ease in the water.
You love to play with Owen, and the two of you actually play together now, and it is so fun to watch. You chase each other through the house, driving the shopping cart and baby stroller before you. You tell him “Let’s hug!” and you do, eventually falling to the ground together and wrestling. You jump on the beds together. You play in the water together. You are starting to find your “no!” voice more and tell him more of what you want, which always throws him for a loop. You really enjoy each other, cracking each other up with endless variations of “Like a diamond in the….diaper, bath…pewp!” or “Like a bridge over troubled…kitchen, spiders, lava….pewp.” You think poop jokes are especially funny given your dad’s strict no-poop joke policy. You have this funny voice that you use to say, “Thas silly, Mom!” like when you see a billboard of a chicken in a hat. You are ever looking for a laugh, trying out jokes and cracking yourself up, laughing at yourself, which gets us all to laugh. You love to sing. You sing Let It Go (“Weh i gooooooo!” Weh i gooo! No hold back anymore! Weh i gooo! Weh i goooo!”) You sing on key and with gusto and with terrible articulation. You sing Twinkle Twinkle and Jesus Loves me, and it is so sweet.
You love to dance, and you do ballet moves at random, but especially in the nude, after your bath, You are always twirling, and doing your variations of headstands, putting your hands and head down on the carpet, sticking one leg up. You hold your bath towel around you and dance, singing “Princess Girl! Princess Girl!” over and over. And some nights, you’re Power Girl instead.
You love all things art – playdough, coloring, and especially painting. You’ll do it for up to an hour, so engaged. You still love animals – especially Grandma Karen and Grandpa Ron’s cat “Marbarry.” Everytime they visit, you ask if the cat is going to come. You love your clothes and have strong opinions on what you should and should not be wearing on a given day. You love to put clothes on yourself. And shoe changes – all day long. You love technology still, Elsa. And we’re working so hard with you on having a balanced attitude towards it. You cry tears of devastation at the end of your screen time. Every. Day. The other day, I watched you squat down and grab my phone out of the diaper bag and then start to waddle away, still ducked down, trying to stay out of my site. Every. Day. You do this. Even when you came to meet Lewis at the hospital, you spent some time talking to me and examining him, and then within minutes, you were pressing buttons on the hospital phone. Your fascination with phones and screens is endless and infuriating, Elsie Bels.
This summer has seen you turn into a big sister. And you are a great one. During my whole pregnancy, you would lift up my shirt, asking about the baby. You would sit next to me and hug my belly, melting my heart into a puddle. You were constantly poking my belly button / the baby and saying, “beepo!” and laughing hysterically. As we brought him home, you began to call him Lulis…then Wewis. Those first few days, I’d nurse Lewis in bed in the morning, and you’d crawl in for a snuggle, and ask if you could tell us a story. You stroke his head, you tell me when he’s crying. You have zero capacity to understand his dislike of the paci. You tell me he needs “mama milk” when he’s sad…and even went so far as to suggest that he’d like a mama-milk birthday cake for his first birthday. Probably.
When I think back to you at two, I think I will remember you perched atop our garbage can or on the counter in the kitchen, your preferred spot to sit. I will see you looking out the window, saying, “Doze pwants are goin’ cwazy, mom!” or banging on the window, yelling, “Scwam, Squwrl!” You are just so funny lately. Here are your Elsaisms;
–All the grandparents were Gamma Kayren or Gapa Joe for a while
–you are the only two year old I know that can talk about volcanoes, ash, and make volcano sounds thanks to Owen’s fascination with volcanoes
–you are always mixing up evers, anymores, everywheres (I never seen that anymores)
-Ugh, gotta…pump the milk…mow the lawn (the annoyed sound ugh makes you sound like an old, annoyed woman)
-Thas not Gweat (that’s not great) – said about putting hands in toilet or about my magformer’s creation the other day
-When I’m four, I’ll…(you say this in front of everything you want to do and we say no to) …or Mom, when you’re four, you can go to the park (said to me after I stayed home from the park one time)
And my personal favorite interaction:
Me: Elsa, you smell poopy. Did you poop?
Me: Well, what do you smell?
Elsa: (sniffs) Ummm, chips?
I’m not sure we’ll ever potty train you. Or get you to stop using a paci. And I’m not sure if that’s because you are a middle child or because these developmental milestones are coinciding with our having a baby and trying to sell the house…or if it’s because you are Elsa. Part of me is okay with the paci…because in so many ways, you are still my baby girl. But there is part of me that is resigned…as I look at you – you’re getting so long and lean, and I see glimpses of this little girl.
Every day, I try to snuggle with you and give you a hug. I tell you you’re my special girl. Because you are. You’re my only girl, and I love that about us. We painted our nails together the other day. Elsa, it is so fun to be your mom. There is so much goodness in you. And I love that each day, I get to know more of who you are.
I love you. So much.
Things you love: videos, phones, talking on the phone, Peabell (Thea Belle), Binkin (Lincoln), Khari and Estella, Milo and Olive, when your dad comes home, No David books, Frozen, Let It Go, Gangnam Style, Hampster Dance, Peppa Pig, Penguins Movie, Minions movie, seeing friends, climbing
Things you hate: diaper changes, when Owen won’t play with you or takes something from you, when we turn off videos, when we won’t give you a treat after dinner