Wednesday, May 21, 2014

18 months: She's a Soul Girl

Dear Katherine,

You are 18 months old, my little love, and you have grown and changed so much.  Often when I look back over the past weeks while writing these letters, I’m surprised how much you’ve changed when I wasn’t looking.  But in the past two months, it feels like I can see you getting bigger right before my eyes.  When I took you into nursery after a four-day break at Easter, the ladies there swear that they could tell you’d grown over the weekend! You weigh about 24 pounds and sport an impressive little pot belly (your “tickly cheese belly”) that you pull your top up to expose and pat like someone that’s finished a particularly satisfying meal.  You’ve just recently cut your incisors, so that makes 16 teeth.  And bless you, my sweet child, for in the past month you’ve drifted into the lovely habit of sleeping straight through the night.

The big news is that you’re officially a toddler now.  Although you’ve been taking steps since about about 17 months old, it was exactly 10 days ago that you decided walking is your preferred method of getting around, even though crawling is faster for you.  The experience is still novel to me, watching you stagger about with your hands curled up to your shoulders for balance.  For a long time, you wouldn’t walk if you thought anybody was watching you, but now you are so clearly proud of your new-found locomotion that I find myself beaming right back at you.

Your verbal vocabulary hasn't really expanded significantly, though you now readily say Daddy and Mum-ma and there’s no question that you mean us when you say it.  You understand so much, though, and are surprisingly easy to reason with.  The first, and only, proper word that you spontaneously use in proper context is “up!”  When you say it comes out with a forceful “UH!” followed a beat later by a precisely breathed “puh” which I find adorable.  You point to noses and ears and eyes and feet.  You also love books, especially the one with lots of pictures to help you learn words.  You point and point and point to hear me say the words, and make the sounds for the animals you know (duck and fish).  A couple of days ago you delighted us by making a monkey sound, which you must have learned at nursery since you didn’t hear it from us.  Then you delighted us even further by making that sound while pointing to your stuffed Tigger.  It was only when we looked with fresh eyes we realized that he does rather look like a monkey.  Another charming habit is when you get to the end of a book and close the cover, you wave bye-bye to it, usually a split second before you open it up to “read” it again.

In addition to books, which you generally prefer to toys, you also love music.  At nursery, one of the staff plays a guitar, and the first day she played when you were there, you weren't content to sit in a circle with the rest of the children.  No, you charged up to her, pulled yourself up and stood there right next to the guitar, held to rapt attention, dancing away.  You absolutely loved it.  We experienced something similar here at home.  Although we noticed you always seem to enjoy music, when Daddy put on the album Soul by Seal, and you were completely captivated.  You dropped what you were doing, walked up to the hi-fi, pointed at it, then started grinning and grooving and didn't stop through at least three songs.  We’d never seen such an intense reaction from you – well, except once when you saw some people rock climbing on TV.  It was a strange thing, that rock climbing thing – almost like you recognized it.
Speaking of nursery, you love it there and they love you.  It has been a pleasure watching you grow into yourself as your world has expanded.  One of the strangest adjustments for me, after the 15 months that you and I were practically inseparable, is to know that you now have a whole set of life experiences that I know almost nothing about and you can’t yet share with me.  But I feel so fortunate that you have settled in so well that you usually smile and blow kisses as I walk out the door and you sit down for breakfast with your little best friend.
The most amusing development is that you have become a precise little mimic.  You play peekaboo behind your little muslin like I've always done, or even more adorably, by covering up your mouth (but never your eyes) with two little hands.  The first time I noticed how intently you try to emulate me is when you got a hold of my moisturizer, then swiped your finger across the top of the lid and began to stroke your face in a nearly perfect imitation of my application technique.  A few days later, you watched your daddy polish off the last of the milk straight from the jug, then picked it up and spent the next 15 minutes pretending to take swigs of it yourself and making daddy do the same, and you laughed and laughed and laughed.  This is when the rubber hits the road, in parenting terms.  Never has it been clearer that I must now model the behaviour that I wish to teach you, because you are watching every move and taking it all in.  You continually surprise me with what you absorb, learn and reflect back to us and I can’t wait, my little love, to see what you’ll show me next.

I love you with all my heart,