Tuesday, December 21, 2010

To Speck at 32ish months (written a bit late)

Speck in flowered tunic grinningThe last few months have seen the continued emergence of your independent self, more distinct in its tastes and more feisty in its demands. For the first time, you're willing to play by yourself for stretches of time; you'd still like a spectator, but you're willing to build structures for your frogs yourself and narrate their activities. You've also mastered a host of new skills, from jumping with two feet (still an iffy proposition) and pedaling your trike (a stretch) to blowing your nose (a fall cold made you a real expert). You can come along to a few restaurants and eat off the menu right with us, all nonchalant with your fork and cup. And you now lie next to your heap of sleep friends, rather than on top of them, and have even taken to using a pillow at night -- just like real folks! hah.

Your grasp of language also continues to deepen. Many times the awareness of this comes as a surprise to your parents, as you recite a stretch of a favorite book ("A cautionary tale in five chapters"), show interest in every occurrence of a particular word (e.g., pointing to every "up" on a page), or correct us when we deviate in the slightest way from the wording of a library book we've only had for a week or two. Speck, hair in two pigtails, walking on all fours on cobblestonesOther times, it seems a natural extension of your existing interests -- for example, you love to give naturalist lectures based on the book of North American birds (with special attention to the "gaberhorn" category that you invented), jumbling together facts and phrases from all kinds of sources. You're also starting to play with language a bit, making up your own exclamations ("seds!") and playing with nonsense sounds, much to your own amusement. You're also a sponge for idiom, and sometimes leave acquaintances agog when you come out with some ornamented turn of phrase they absolutely weren't expecting from a toddler. (Luckily, to date, nothing profane or embarrassing to parents, at least as far as we know.)

We've also really experienced some of the legendary "terrible two" behavior -- opposition, whining, biting. Amusingly, this sometimes comes with self-narration ("I'm falling to part!"), but it's often exhausting and frustrating to all concerned. Luckily, long stretches of grumpiness are usually interleaved with multiple days of basic cheeriness, giving us a reprieve and a chance to enjoy each other's company again. So I suspect we'll muddle through.

Speck leans on a granite bear, her hair backlit

One source of some excitement this fall was your debut in nursery school. First our top preschool pushed us to start you earlier than we planned, and then our initial "warm-up" visits there left us with a bad feeling about its excessive structure (and/or waiting-around time). A panicked scramble landed us in a much mellower place, and you, for your part, seemed completely untraumatized by the prospect of going to school (perhaps due to much advance reading of "Llama Llama Misses Mama"?) -- you were excited by your new lunchbox, happy about the little games and rituals of the day, and even motivated to take your nap at school like the other kids (certainly a lot sooner than we had expected!). A lot of our insights into your day come from new games that the frogs play -- from circle time with the guitar guy, to nap time with blankies and teddy bears -- and from your pride in understanding more about the calendar and the days of the week. But you also call it your "fun class," so I guess it's a winner on the most important front of all.
Speck, in hairband, on couch with Oball full of frogs
So there you are! We're preparing for an exciting week of Christmas, with a heap of grandparents on hand, and the next time I write to you will be after you turn three! You're growing like a weed and getting busier every day, so I just hope we can keep up with you in the months ahead! Can't wait to find out.

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