Monday, November 03, 2008

Dear Fern, part XXXIII

Dear Fern,

Fern slideshow

You turn two and three quarters today, and there are two drawbacks to this milestone.

For one thing, we just taught you to say "two and two thirds" and that was kind of impressive.

Secondly and more importantly, this is your final mensiversary as an only child. Rare will be the days to come when you'll have both your parents' undivided attention. One friend, another parent of two, described the sensation as going from double-teaming to a one-on-one defense -- and it seems that you don't completely approve of the change.

Don't get me wrong: most of the time you continue to be your blissfully satisfied, cooperative self. You're also more likely these days to go off to play some game of your own invention -- by yourself. It's as if you're already preparing for how distracted we, your parents, are going to be in a few short days.

But you're also backsliding, too. No textbook regression for you: you're still pooping in the potty and dressing yourself. But if we indulge you, and sometimes even over our objections, you'll try to squeeze into some of the baby clothes we've been getting ready for your sister. You've also taken to making us feed you sometimes. Although we're loathe to do that for an almost three-year old, we know that if allowed, you will go without a bite of anything (except toothpaste, which you covet). And then you won't sleep. And then we won't sleep. So if feed you we must, then feed you we will.

Your ambivalence about sisterhood has a positive pole, too: you spend much of your time practicing baby care. One of your favorite games is "put the baby to bed" in which you arrange pillow, blankets, and stuffed animals for your current sister proxy -- the favorite doll you've oddly taken to calling "medium-sized dolly." (At least it's not "venti dolly.") So at the same time that you're looking slightly tarty in your 6-month-sized T-shirts you're also asking for a doll-sized Baby Bjorn. You make us feed you, then in the same beat turn to feed your doll or teach mommy's belly to sing "This Old Man."

It's obvious why the family enlargement confuses you: it's doing the same to us. Every symptom -- from your stubbornly regressive moments to the periods of unbridled saintliness -- is completely normal for a now two-and-three-quarter year old about to get a baby in the family. You've really enjoyed self-identifying as a "big girl" -- doing things like having entire telephone conversations and writing letters to your friends -- but you're not sure that you like the idea of losing your recourse to babyhood. Just today you rejoiced over upgrading from car seat to booster but at the same time you wanted to ride in the Ergo carrier like a baby -- something you haven't done for over a year.

Your upcoming thirty-fourth month promises to be life-changing for all of us. We know -- well, hope -- that you'll feel as we do that the titles you're losing -- "only child," "baby of the family" -- will be more than compensated for by the ones you're gaining -- "big sister," "sensible caregiver." And, the most exciting label that you'll be surely taking on in a couple of years -- that might last the rest of your life -- is, of course, "best friend."

So if you have a few moments of receding into infantile behavior for a little while -- it's not a problem. You've got a lot on your plate just now.

We love you very, very much,


Mommy & Daddy

Here's this month's slideshow. If you can't see the pictures below, click this link.