Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Addition to old phrase

It just started recently.

I was standing on a deck when she ran over to me. She grasped my khaki covered legs in a full bear hug, as children often do. The force of the squeeze was magnified by the words,

"I dove you sooooo much."

That was Sunday.

Today, while looking over the dinner table at her little brother who was sitting in Mommy's lap, she lets him know,

"I dove you, Attah; I dove you so much."

You can't stop. You put your hand to your mouth. You smile. And you feel all of the love that floods out of this child. The force of the expression shows that they are not just words, not just a mimicking of things heard and repeated. The exhilaration of the statement lets you know it comes from her heart, a heart full of love.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Putting her down

I'm putting her down. It's dark in the room. I'm near the headboard, and her head is on the pillow. I've just given her a few small kisses. I'm about ready to leave.

Her arm comes out, suddenly, from her blanket and wraps around my neck, pulling my face even closer to hers. She gives me a kiss, then,

"I dove you, Daddy."

I know I need to leave; she won't go to sleep if I don't, but I want more than anything, to stay here in her embrace.

A princess

As I biked home from work, her outfit surprised me. Lately, I've been attempting to have her dressed before going downstairs in the morning. To expedite the process, I let her choose the outfit, as she likes to call it. When she picks, she has no problem quickly pulling the shirt over her head, the panties up around her bum, or the pants around her waste. It sounds great, but it doesn't always work out the way we want. Often, even though the outfits we lay out match nicely, she has a way of mixing and matching.

"Dis shirt."

"These pantses."

"Oh honey, are you sure? These would go a little bit better."

"Why Daddy?"

"Because they match."

"But, this outfit is perfect." She dashes away, a flurry of arms and legs hastening to show Mommy. "This outfit perfect?" I hear her say to Mommy.

"Tahlia, did you dress yourself?"

Mommy asks because the butterfly shirt with the earth tones doesn't really go with the primary green peddle pushers with lady bugs.

"Daddy, did I pick the outfit myself?" Lately, when asked a question, even when she knows the answer, she usually defers it to a person who was there at the conception.

And as I bike over the rise onto the basketball court, it shouldn't surprise me to see her, I, after all, participated in the dressing this morning.

But I don't see the green. Instead, there is a little purple princess standing atop the pavement next to Mommy. A tulle attached skirt rides over he little green pedal pushers. The sequins on her leotard top glisten now purple, now red, now silver. Her blond hair blows freely in the afternoon breeze.

She, of course, dressed herself.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


She's a toddler, and, therefore, choice is a big deal.

She wants some vegetables, so she asks Mommy to see the carrots, broccoli, peas and corn. She wants the corn. We know this because for the last three nights she has had a heaping serving of corn. She's going to pick the corn, but she wants to see all of the vegetables. Daddy is instructed to go and retrieve the various bags of frozen organic vegetables from the freezer. She doesn't want the carrots. It has been weeks since the last time she had carrots. I make a choice. Three bags of frozen vegetables is plenty. Why should I carry the fourth?

The answer is simple. She is a toddler, and instantaneously realizes that I do not have the carrots. I am not even sure that she could see the pictures to reveal which veggie I have left out, but, somehow, she knows.

"Daddy!?!? Where the carrots?" she states with an air of incredulity.
"Darn." I mumble under my breath, which is a mistake.
"Mommy . . . why Daddy say 'Darn'?"

I don't hear the answer as I'm back at the freezer taking out the last vegetable. I have a moment of hope. Maybe this trip isn't wasted. Maybe she's going to pick the carrots. I know, in my heart, I am a fool for thinking this, but for a moment, I hope.

"Daddy, please put the vegetables down." She politely asks.

She's staring and grinning at the corn. In teaching, there is a way of attempting to gain answers from the reluctant student. It is called wait time. It is when, after a teacher has asked a question, the teacher pauses. The usual kid who always answers, of course, has his or her hand up the instant the question is almost completed, but still, in order to draw out those more reluctant students, the teacher waits. Sometimes it is as short as five seconds, but for the unpracticed, it seems an eternity. Tahlia appears to be using this tactic now. She is still staring at the corn. There is a wry little smile on her face as she stares at it. For a moment, the smile flees and she looks, with an unimpressed air, at the other vegetables, before returning her gleeful gaze back to the corn. She's going to pick the corn. We know it will be the corn. Three nights in a row the broken-hearted broccoli, the poor peas, and the melancholy carrots have all made the trek back to the freezer as the carefree corn is gobbled down, literally, by the handful. Her eyes are still on the corn, but she's using her wait time like a pro.

Slowly, as if she is picking a prized lobster, her hand begins creeping away from her body to point, regally, at the corn. She smiles as if the choice was unexpected.

One more time, the three unlucky musketeers of the garden are hauled back to the freezer.

Example two:
It's bedtime.

For the last four nights she has worn the pink pajamas with the two polar bears who are making a polar bear snowman.

For the last four nights, either Mommy or Daddy has laid the polar bear pajamas, along with the purple flower pajamas and the pink flower pajamas on the floor in front of Tahlia. She stairs intensely at the polar bear pajamas. She's going to pick the polar bear pajamas, but she needs all three laid out in front of her.

Tonight is no different. I place the polar bear pajamas on the floor, and, like a mongoose after a snake, she is questioning, "Daddy, where the other pajamas?"

I'm already reaching into the drawer. I know she's going to wear the polar bear pjs; she already has the look in her eye. I fetch the floral patterned ones.

She makes sure they are all laid out perfectly, then begins to stair intently at the polar bear pjs. The wait time is amazing. She picks up the polar bears and says, "This one." As if I should be suprised. I grin and help her into her clothes.

It seems tedious. It seems unnecessary. But in her little world where there really is so little choice, it is an easy way to help her to learn how to have control. Each time, she learns a little bit about the importance of making a choice, whether it is right or wrong, whether or not it matters, whether or not it is the same one she made yesterday.

Or maybe we humor her because of how cute we feel she is as she intently stares, grinning, at the choice she has already made.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day Wish

She is running down the Giant aisle as quickly as she can. We're in aisle number 10, the cards and random book aisle. Mommy is about fifteen feet in front of her, and she is going to make contact any second. Before her float her words, a harbinger of the good to come:

"Dis one Mommy? Dis one perfect?"

The card flaps before her face like a bird who almost was able to take off prior to the small child's hand clasping around its wing. To say it flutters is an understatement. Imagine a card stuck with an industrial strength magnet to a refrigerator that is flying around a tornado, and you will have close to the image of this poor card that we will most likely not buy. That isn't true. We're not going to buy the card. There is no doubt. Mainly because it is a pink and yellow card wishing a two year old a happy birthday, and we are currently shopping for Mother's Day cards, even while it is currently Mother's Day.

She has reached her destination and has opened the card to read.

"It says, 'Happy Mudder's Day, Mommy.' Dis card for you?" She peers at Mommy in hopes that Mommy will nod in the affirmative, thus giving the ok to purchase said product.

Instead, Mommy has knelt down beside her and gives her a big kiss. "That card says 'Happy Mother's Day, Mommy'?" Tahlia nods. "That is perfect," and with a smile, Mommy redirects, "now go bring it back to Daddy."

And she is fleeing my way. "Dis one Daddy. It says 'Happy Mudder's Day.' It's perfect."

And it is perfect. For, she chose the card. She came up with the idea. There was none of the usual prodding by Daddy to go and tell Mommy something. It was all her idea. Thus, to her, the card did say Happy Mother's Day, Mommy, and Mommy knows that it all came from her. A perfect Mother's Day gift.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

One wish

Daddy's birthday cake sat in front of him aflame.

Five candles flared in the dining room; the joke being that we rounded up and had one for each decade, one for good luck.

"Daddy, blow out your candles."

I explained that I needed to make a wish before I blew them out. "What should I wish for?"


We are all confused. Maybe she just wants the cake now, on her dish. Makes sense. We give a few guesses, all of which are given a shake. She is staring at the cake.

Daddy asks again, "What should I wish for?

A little girl could wish for so many things. Dolls, toys, really, the list is endless. But we're all wrong.

She finally, to all of our surprise, figures out another way of saying the word we all couldn't understand. The thing she would wish for, "A dolphin."

Maybe I will wish for one, but I'm not sure where we'll keep it.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Telling Secrets

Before I start, I just want to apologize. I can't capture it. I'll try, but it will be a poor imitation of the situation.

Mommy is about to leave. She's decided that Mommy will go, and Daddy will stay. The curtains are pulled shut and it is night time. Books were just read; a story is about to be told, but first, Mommy is going to go.

Mommy is always given a big squeeze and a kiss before going. Tahlia likes to draw out this time in the evening when she has both of us to herself, a commodity that is rare in these days of having a little brother. She finds other things to do rather than give Mommy the riches that she so desires. Tahlia reads books, wanders around her room, sometimes does crazy dancing. She is coaxed, finally, by Daddy who tells Tahlia to tell Mommy a secret.

I pull her close, and whisper in her ear, "Tell Mommy, 'I love you Mommy.'"

Whispering is new to her. Often times a whisper sounds a great deal like her regular voice. We are expecting as much this time.

But we're wrong.

She carefully walks to Mommy and begins pushing the hair on Mommy's head away from her ear. Soon, she has found her prize. She leans close. We wait to hear the loudly stated, "I dove you Mommy."

It doesn't come. Instead, something below the register of normal human sound is uttered. It has the rhythm of something we've heard before, "I love you Mommy."

But once is not enough. She carefully takes Mommy's face in her small hands and begins angling Mommy's head into a position that only she clearly understands. It is a slow process; if it was not done with such obvious love, one might inappropriately describe it as tedious. But soon, Tahlia's small pink lips are inches from Mommy's nose as her delicate hands carefully cradle Mommy's head, and her gaze is strong into Mommy's eyes. You can barely hear the sounds, but her eyes convey the entire message even to me who sits across the room, "I dove you Mommy."

Again, "I dove you Mommy."

She turns to me with unbelievable joy radiating from her face. Then turns to grasp Mommy's head again for another torrent of loving whispers that she rain from her lips.

"I dove you Mommy."

But, in these poor words, I've failed to capture just how precious and ethereal this moment shall always be.

If it's the truth, have you done anything wrong?

She's quite obviously reaching her hand into the pomegranate juice and spreading it onto her plate. We wait to make sure it is not a one time occurrence. It is a careful practice. She misses not a drop. Her hand reaches deep into the savory purple liquid, and with fine brush strokes, she carefully covers her plate.

"Ah. . . Tahlia?" I still don't have her attention so focused is she on her task.

"Ah. . . Tahlia?" A quick glance up to acknowledge the sound has reached her ears before looking down again to complete this important assignment. After all, she is almost completely done. "What are you doing?" The tone is clear. Even if you do not speak English, one would be able to recognize the tone. Even being only two years old, she should be able to recognize the tone. It is the tone of wrong doing. The tone is so powerful that the words are meaningless. The impact should be similar to when you tell your dog that she is an idiot, but do so in such a loving voice that she wags her tail and comes in closer. It is a tone of chastisement. A tone to render the being slack-necked and head-hanging. A tone to gain woeful eyes.

With nonchalance, her blue saucer eyes look up at me, and with no fault in her voice, she states, "I'm putting juice on my plate." With a final dip, she refocuses her attention to complete the final covering.

Chastised for my idiocy in not being able to recognize the current situation, I turn back to my plate to finish my dinner. I obviously need to work on my communication skills.

Holding hands

Necessary background -- "Nu-nu" used to mean "little." Recently, she has started saying little, but sometimes, she falls back into the old.
Other necessary background -- when she poops, she likes someone to hold her hand.
Last bit of background -- there are big poopies and little poopies -- little poopies are when she passes gas. She made this clarification a long time ago.

It is nap time, and she has indicated that she needs to poop.

She's sitting on the potty in her bed room -- it is a blue Bjorn Potty. The color doesn't matter as much as the fact that we don't have our daughter sleep in the bathroom.

She indicates that she is going to poop. This indication is subtle, only a trained parent knows the signs of his or her child, and this sign is that the lining of her eye between her eyeball and her eyelashes become a crimson color. Mommy asks a simple question: "Do you want to hold my hand."

Tahlia's face turns red, a second indication that she is pooping, but, to our surprise, as she holds her breath, she shakes her head.

She hasn't pooped, and she leans forward and says, "Tahlia can do nu-nu poopies all by her oaf." The "oaf" is actually "self." The "oaf" is usually pronounced "oat," and so the "f" sound is a huge accomplishment, which we acknowledge. And the "oaf" is drawn out to emphasis that she is a big girl.

And for a moment we all smile.

Then Tahlia reaches out her hand, "Mommy, hand."