Dear Natalie: 21 Months


Dear Natalie,

HOW are you almost two years old?? You are every inch a toddler now, though, with barely any trace of baby left.

On the one hand, this makes me a little bit nostalgic — mostly from looking at pictures of you taken one year ago when you were roly-poly from head to toe and you’d sit exactly where I put you down.

But on the other hand, I love you at this age. And every age, now and forever (mandatory mom disclaimer!). But there’s something extra delightful about you at this point, especially discovering more and more of your personality every day.

If I had to describe you in one word right now, it would be focused. Not that you don’t do your fair share of ping-ponging around the house, cycling through 12 activities in the span of 4 minutes, because…obviously. You’re 21 months old. But you study things. Intently. And you want them to be just so, a trait that you inherited a double dose of from your dad and me (sorry about that).

When we color, you recap your markers. All of them. With the right color caps.

For the most part, you cheerfully help clean up your toys. Putting things inside other things is pretty much your favorite hobby right now, so it stands to reason that returning your toys to their basket makes you beam with pride.

You collect all the pens in the house and, as deliberately as you can, put them in the plastic holder they came in. You get frustrated and ask me to help if you can’t quite get them in the right slots. When you’re done with that activity, you take them all back out and line them up over and over again, carefully nudging them into place. You usually count them as you go, which is utterly adorable because you can’t count yet. You’ve got the sing-song counting pitch and rhythm down pat, but the numbers definitely aren’t in English. Except for “one,” which you pronounce as “none.”

We have a reusable sticker pad with several different scenes and tons of different animal stickers. This, for you, is about a 20-minute activity (an AMAZINGLY long stretch of time!). Sometimes you need help peeling the stickers off their sheet, but you figured out pretty quickly how to do it yourself and don’t usually need me for that. You study the scene and consider where to place each animal before setting it down, giving it a quick double tap to keep it in place before moving on to the next. I don’t know if most kids do this or not, but you place the stickers right-side up 98% of the time (same thing with books; when you’re “reading” to yourself the books are never, never upside down).

I’m making you sound like such a serious, withdrawn child, but that’s definitely not the case. You’re a ham. You see the humor in things, which I always find completely astounding. We made a person with a sense of humor. How incredible is that? One of your favorite games right now is making any adults in your mealtime vicinity blow on your food to cool it down, even (or especially!) if it’s clearly unnecessary. “HOT!” you declare with a grin as you present us with a piece of cheese straight from the fridge. We dutifully blow on it before you stuff it in your mouth, throwing your head back and laughing at how silly we all are.

You’re picking up new words like gangbusters these days, even though we don’t know what half of them are. It’s like living with a tiny Ewok that jabbers at me all day and gets incredibly annoyed when I have absolutely no idea what you’re asking for. We muddle through, though. Even when I’m being purposely obtuse when I know full well that you’re asking me to turn on the TV to watch Sesame Street or Daniel Tiger.

We have our fair share of challenging times, especially as you’re learning to process feelings like frustration and disappointment and anger. These are tough emotions, for sure, and most adults don’t even handle them in a good way 100% of the time — myself included, but knowing that you’re watching me and soaking up EVERY SINGLE THING I SAY AND DO is really, really good motivation for me to practice processing those feelings in a better way.

I’m certainly not perfect, and neither is your dad. But we love you, oh my gosh do we love you, and we’re working on setting the best example that we can.

Love always,

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