It doesn’t seem possible that you’re 20 months old, Sage.
Then again, you’re growing like crazy — physically as well as mentally. This past month we had a visit from my parents and your cousins Mason and Lucy. In the past, it has taken you a while to start identifying people by name, but within less than 48 hours you were referring to “Mase” and “Luce” — and when you didn’t see them, you were asking where they were.
We took you to the zoo — not for the first time — and a walrus popped up right against the window we were looking through, maybe a foot away from you through the glass, and kissed the glass. You screamed and tried to climb me, and after that you weren’t quite as interested in the animals until we got to the elephants and you tried to talk to the baby.
We took you to the Children’s Museum, and you loved the dinosaur skeletons, which surprised me, and the play areas, which didn’t. When you enter the museum, you can see two huge dinos that look like they’re peeking in through the roof of the building; you spotted them and kept pointing at them, saying, “Whoa!”
You’re continuing to become more and more verbal. You’re identifying colors and foods and all sorts of things, and you’re occasionally chiming in with us as we read you your favorite books. You’re asking for things by name. You’re occasionally giving full — or nearly full — sentences. “Sage go upstairs?” “Chelle need potty?” “Where Mama?”
You’re repeating words, which means that by the end of this football season you’ll probably be hollering at some of the Colts’ more error-prone players.
You’ve grown taller, too. Some outfits that we thought were never going to fit you are actually getting to be too small for you now. Every now and then I look at the photos we have of you at three weeks old, and it boggles my mind how much bigger you’ve gotten. You have enough hair now that we regularly give you one or two “piggy-tails” (looks I think of as “the whale spout” and “the bug”), and your hair curls up in the back when it gets humid.
Right now you have all of your incisors coming in at once. You’re still pretty casual about it most of the time, but when it hurts you, you become a holy terror. You throw yourself on the ground and holler and yell and scream when we pick you up. We’re teaching you right now that it’s not okay to hit.
You’ve gotten really, really picky about food, despite our best efforts. We’re honestly getting a bit frustrated with you at times when you refuse to even try food. As your mother keeps telling you, in our house, you are required to try it. You currently don’t seem to believe that. Mostly you want your yogurt, your toast, your gummies, and your fruit — especially berries and plums. You’ll eat a number of other things as long as you have “chup” (ketchup).
You’re playing with so much more imagination than you used to. You insist not only on playing “Patty-cake” and “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” but in having me manipulate the hands of your baby dolls or stuffed animals so that they are playing too. You march your animal crackers across your tray, making elephant and cow noises. You use tissues on your baby doll’s nose and put them down for night-night. You still use everything as a phone, with your half of the conversation usually consisting of: “Hewwo? … Hi! … Nope. … Okay. … Bye!” But when you’re on the real phone, you usually don’t say anything. You just give kisses to the phone when you recognize the voice as someone you love. (Today, you told Mawmaw “Hi,” “Kiss,” and “Bye.” So sometimes you’ll talk.) You pretend to read to your stuffed animals sometimes, too, or to feed them with your toy food.
You like sneaking up on us, and us sneaking up on you. You like tickle fights. You like climbing things (we are not quite so happy with this as you have taken occasional falls). You like shoes (a lot — and I am hoping this is not a sign for my future as father of a pre-teen with a closet).
This month, I am struggling to figure out exactly how to word my advice to you. Essentially, it is along the lines of “figure out what matters to you, and then figure out what it represents — what is really important within what matters.”
Here’s what I mean.
Since you were still growing inside your mother, I have been singing to you. There are several songs that I sing, but the one that I have been singing consistently is “I See the Moon.”
You used to have a mobile on your crib. It would play for ten minutes while you snuggled with me at bedtime, and when it was done, I would sing to you. I often sang four songs, with the last one being “I See the Moon.” Then I would put you in bed, tell you how much your mother and I love you, and we’d say night-night.
Then you kind of stopped snuggling; you wanted to use that ten minutes to play. You understood that you had to stay on my lap, but you would play by naming facial features and touching them — and then, as you got older, wanting to play “Patty-cake” and “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “This Little Piggy,” and so on. But when the mobile would stop, you would snuggle up while I sang to you.
And then we replaced the mobile with a musical turtle (you love to say “turtle” for some reason), and I don’t know how long it plays music but it goes on for a good long while. We now have a musical seahorse that you snuggle with, but with the same issue — the music seems to go on and on. And you started asking for night-night before the music stopped, which meant before I ever sang to you.
So I started singing to you before turning on the music.
And because you wanted to play when I first sat down with you — you weren’t ready to snuggle up for sleep — you didn’t want the songs I always sang to you. You wanted the action songs with motions.
This was hard for me. I wanted to sing you the songs I’ve been singing you for two years now. I wanted you to snuggle up against me and listen to them and we could rock gently in the chair.
But you’re getting older, and that’s not something that I’m going to be able to do forever. I never thought it would change before you were two, but that’s part of you getting bigger — you develop your own opinions and personality, and of course I want that for you.
So I had to think about what mattered to me — singing to you — and then what it represented. It represents two things. First, I want you to have music as part of your life. I come from a very musical family, and I want to pass that on to you. Second, I want father-daughter time with you, and that often centers around bedtime.
So the compromise I made is simple. I will try to sing you the songs that mean a lot to me — but if you ask for a song you love, I will sing that song for you. You are still getting music, and we are still spending time together. I am not forcing on you the songs that mean a lot to me, because I know that you will always have your own opinions and they won’t always match mine. In the end, it makes you happy… and I usually get the snuggles that I crave so much as the daddy of a sparkling little girl.
You still let me sing “I See the Moon” often enough that I don’t feel like I’ve totally lost continuity.
So I hope you understand what I mean. Sometimes you have to compromise on the details because the fundamentals are the important part.
As always: be who you are. (So far, you’re pretty great!)
I love you so much, Sage. Your mother and I both do. You’re such a wonderful little girl and we love watching your development. Every night I look forward to seeing you the next day; you’re like sunshine that way.