Saturday, January 03, 2009

Dear Fern, part XXXV

Dear Fern,


You turn 35 months old today, ostensibly entering the last month of your terrible twos. For most of this year you haven't shown much tendency to the "terrible," though the last few weeks, we'll admit, have brought some challenges.

Not that we're surprised. After all, we've taken a rainy month, added a new baby, filled the days with fun but routine-bending visits by out-of-town relatives and, of course, suffered a seasonal end to most organized activities and play dates. Of course you get confused and cranky; heck, we do too.

And, you know, regression can be cute, within limits. It's charming when you squeeze into pants designed for a 3-month old -- that is, unless we need to get out of the house quickly, or we're going somewhere (like a chilly playground) where that kind of outfit won't work. Then you channel your inner terrible two, and though we're both pretty good at handling a Fern-tantrum, it's not very fun.

You're handling sibling envy pretty well. Claudia has been a decent plaything and you're especially excited at how much she responds to your voice these days. When she's crying or cuddling, though, you are occasionally overcome by a need to cry or cuddle immediately as well. Then again, though Claudia steals your parents' attention, she also attracts a pile of new toys into the house. (You get first playing rights, of course.) Overall, you seem to consider sisterhood a positive thing.

We succumb to that common tendency of parents to worry most about what least needs it. In the case of your third December, it turns out we needn't have been too anxious about the effects of Christmas bloat. You had four Christmas celebrations, all told, and got some pretty darn impressive presents from all corners. And you were almost always gracious and passionately excited about every gift. For a not-quite-three year old: well done.

Despite all the confusion (or maybe because of it?) you've matured quite a bit this month. We've noted before that grandparent visits seem to inspire developmental advances, so maybe that explains why you fairly suddenly shed most of your sleep issues. Most nights now, you fall asleep on your own in your bed like you used to. Daddy comes back every five minutes, but by the first or second return visit, you're asleep. About half the time, you sleep through the night, though you do still ask for midnight help on the potty from time to time. It's maybe only once a week that you have extended wakeful periods at night, which is a great comfort.

Your age acrobatics continue: a couple of days ago, you were playing with a six-year old up at the tire swing playground for something like an hour before she asked how old you are. When she found out you're only two, she told her four-year old sister that she thought you were at least five. Even adults generally guess at least a year or two above your actual age. It's hard to describe why you come across older than you are: you're tall, of course, and pretty verbal, but not like a kindergartner. Put it down to confidence, an inner font of gritty determination that's unusual in the two-year old set.

Yet you are decidedly ambivalent about being a big girl. So we keep your booster seat installed but have an old car seat around for you, too. We shop in the much-anticipated Girls section of Target, but we still stop by Toddlers every once in a while. Because while the world seems intent on thrusting you into big girlhood, it's just fine for you to hold on to "baby" from time to time. Let it go when you're ready, but no sooner, OK?

We love you very, very much,


Mommy & Daddy

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