Saturday, March 31, 2007

Dear Fern (Part XIV)

Dear Fern,

Sometime this month, you made the transition into "little girl." We can't put our finger on exactly what we mean by that, but we know it's true.

You're talking a lot more. You pick up words with ease, although you don't always remember them for very long. We'd think you were just mimicking us if not for the fact that pretty frequently, you'll bring the word back a few days later, unprompted.

While it's fun hearing you say all these new words, our enjoyment pales in comparison with your excitement at being able to communicate what you want. It's a little like being in a foreign country: you use a combination of pointing, the few words you know in English or sign, and some very focused grunting to get your meaning across.

Here's an actual conversation you had with your mom the other day:

"I'd like some food," you said.
"Oh?" answered mommy. "What would you like?"
"Cereal, please."
"Ah, I'll get the cereal out, then."
"With milk," you added, politely.

Maybe you think I'm exaggerating your lucidity. It's true we translate a little bit for you, but not that much. You're very well spoken.

A beautiful spring has hit San Francisco, which means we're doing big outings at least once a week. You love the beach and the zoo, and we spent a memorable day in the park with some new friends. I'm learning that you resemble us when it comes to travel: you like going to beautiful and interesting places, but once you're there, you have no need to sight-see. You don't need to experience every animal at the zoo, and a pigeon is just as good as an eagle. And one good lawn at the botanical garden is enough for an afternoon's experience... no need to see everything.

Thanks in part to these long morning outings, you're down to a single nap per day. You'll stay up for about five or six hours after you get up in the morning, then go to sleep for up to two hours. This has been a fantastic thing for us... we can really get out there and experience life when you're able to go that long. Your napping has been incredibly easy, too: once, after a particularly exhausting day when we visited mommy at work, you actually fell asleep in the car! (I know, to other parents this doesn't seem like a big thing, but it's a rarity for you.) Even more amazing, you stayed asleep as I parked the car, transferred you to the stroller, rolled you a block to our house (crossing a busy intersection as we did it), decanted you from the stroller, carried you upstairs, changed your diaper, and put you in your crib. Good nap!

You are having a little bit of trouble at night, waking for sometimes an hour or even more at 3 or 4 a.m. We're not sure why, although we suspect that your erupting molars are one possibility. We've also had luck feeding you extra right before bedtime, so it's possible you're just waking up a little hungry sometimes. Still, it's a big improvement over the multiple awakenings that were happening even just a few weeks ago, and we're hopeful that once those teeth come in we'll be able to get back to sleeping through the night.

Walking, which you've been doing for over two months now, has finally entered the realm of "second nature." I no longer have to worry when you're in head-banging range of something, which is a relief. I think it's done wonders for your self-confidence, too, to realize that you can get somewhere, experience the new place, and then get up and come back to us, all without any particular help.

So I guess what we mean by "little girl" is that your gifts for interacting with the world have developed to the point where you're asserting your own being more often than not. Honestly, it's just a little bit frightening to contemplate the entirety of the path that you've started out on, but at the same time we're jazzed to see you taking it!

We love you very, very much.


Mommy & Daddy