Little Shoe Dance

Ana and I have a little morning routine in which she selects the shoes she wants to wear for the day and I attempt to select an appropriate outfit to match. This morning Ana adamantly requested her “apple shoes” (very aptly named, I think) which we recently purchased at Gymboree. Once she put them on and walked around the house she realized they make a very satisfying little “tap” as she danced and pranced around the room. Behold, the Little Shoe Dance:

A Letter: Nineteen Months

Dear Ana,
Today you turn nineteen months old which just brings you closer and closer to turning two. In fact, at playgroup yesterday we were discussing how “eighteen months is the new two” because the so-called “terrible two’s” start loooong before your second birthday. Not that you are terrible by any means, but you are definitely developing more independence and since your language skills, while incredibly advanced, aren’t fully capable of communicating your every want, need or demand, it often results in frustration. Frustration for you at not being able to tell me what you want and equal frustration for me because I can’t understand what you are trying to tell me. But don’t worry. We will figure this whole thing out together and one day we will laugh at how you suddenly start thumping your legs like a bunny rabbit every time I try to strap you into your car seat because you want to sit on the “big” seat. Not laughing yet? Well, I didn’t say it would be anytime soon.

A perfect example of your growing independence is the fact that you want to “pick” everything. You want to pick your shoes, your television show, your snack. I understand wanting things to be a certain way (believe me, if anyone can understand that, it’s ME) so I try to indulge you whenever possible. A typical snack time often goes something like this:

Me, pointing to animal crackers: “This?”
You, shaking your head, “That.”
Me, pointing to goldfish crackers: “This?”
You, shaking your head and tightening your fists, “That.”
Me, pointing to peanut butter sandwich crackers: “This?!”
You, on the verge of completely hulking out, “THAT!”
Then finally I touch the cheddar puffs and you squeal out in delight, “Yeah!”

So I have taken to setting you on the counter and letting you pick your own snack. This move in itself has saved me hours of mental anguish.

Speaking of snacks, a few days ago you tried orange juice for the first time. Your father was craving some OJ so I picked some up from the store and upon seeing him sipping his beverage you instantly wanted “joooce!” You haven’t been a real fan of anything citrus so I never even thought of giving you orange juice, but OH. MY. GOD. did you love it. You requested it every time you wanted something to drink for three days straight. And the only reason you aren’t drinking it now is because you drank it all. Every once in awhile you would forget what kind of juice it was, but rather than calling it some other fruit (apple, grape, etc.) like any other kid would do, you called it “green juice.” Instead of associating it with fruit you were trying to remember the color. Another reason why I love you: you are always thinking outside of the box.

While you have always loved music, you have recently started wanting to sing all the time. In the car we often listen to a collection of kids songs, which you request by asking for “ABD’s.” Oddly enough, the ABC song isn’t even on there, but that is the song you associate with singing, so ABD’s it is. Ever the perfectionist, you like to practice constantly and therefore can sing a little more of the song each day. When you started it was just AB’s. Then progressed to ABD’s. Then ABCD’s. Some days you really get going and repeat each part you know, getting progressively louder each time you start over with the letter A. Occasionally we even have some G, H, M-O-P sprinkled into the mix.

In mid June we started a music class through the parks and rec, “Magic Music for Preschoolers.” Since you love singing and dancing, I thought it would be a fun creative outlet for you. Well, I was right, but I think in doing so I released your inner diva. You have discovered a love of being the center of attention. When the class gathers in a circle you like to position yourself right in the middle and put on a little twirly dance for everyone in the room. Most of the other children are shy and cling to their mothers, but not you. Oh no, not you. You love to giggle at your refection in the full length mirror, then race around the room pausing to point out an animal on someones shirt before gleefully jumping around to the music no one can hear but you.

Your silliness doesn’t stop with singing and dancing. You enjoy giggling and laughing and more than anything you love to be tickled. While the traditional means of aggressive tickling are all well and good, what you consider “tickle” is when someone slowly traces a finger across your skin. I usually start on your forehead and draw an imaginary line down your nose, across your cheek, over around your ear then down your neck, arm and finally trace each finger. You giggle softly and slowly blink your eyes simply enjoying the sensation. We have started using this kind of tickling as part of our wind-down process before you go to sleep. You lay across my lap, gaze up at me and say, “tickle?”

You are such a girly-girl and every once in awhile I catch a glimpse of what you will be like when you are a boy-crazy teenager. You and I were out to lunch with some of my friends from my old office when you peaked over the back of our seat and noticed a boy, probably about 10-years old, eating his lunch. Always the social butterfly, you quickly said, “Hi.” But the restaurant was pretty loud and he didn’t hear you. You wanted to clarify who you were talking to, but not knowing his name you shouted, “Hi, boy!” This got quite the giggle, not only from my friends but the other restaurant patrons. And not wanting to disappoint, you promptly set to walking up and down our booth singing, “Hi boys! Hi boys!” This has now become your favorite expression and you use it frequently, much to your father’s dismay.

But while you are stubborn and silly, you are also incredibly sweet and caring. Last week you witnessed our cat, Abby, get sick and throw up all over the window sill. You instantly burst into tears and wanted to run over and hug her. Since Abby wasn’t feeling well, we knew she wasn’t in the mood for one of your full-body hugs, plus we didn’t want you to get into the mess, so we made you stay back. You were clearly distraught by the whole ordeal because you talked about it for several days after the fact. You’d be sitting quietly and suddenly your eyes would get big and you would said, “Abby…” then shifting your expression to one of great sadness, “…sick.”

I know I sometimes struggle with your growing personality, your developing independence, and your stubborn streak. But when I see these characteristics emerging, I can’t help but see a little of myself in you. Then my frustration fades to pride as I witness the person you are becoming right before my eyes. Ana, I am more proud of you than you will ever know, so please don’t ever stop being you.
All my love,