Dear Natalie: 22 Months


Dear Natalie,

It  made sense to take your photo this month in front of Grammy and Grandpa’s house, since that’s where you think you live these days.

When I get you out of your crib this morning, you ask for Grammy (sometimes Elmo comes first, but usually Grammy). While I make breakfast, you stand at the window that faces their house and urgently point across the street.

Buh-ba? Buh-ba?

(That’s how you say Grammy and Grandpa right now; they both share a name.)

Sometimes we walk over for a visit, and sometimes we don’t. Since, despite what you may believe, they don’t actually want a toddler in their house ALL THE TIME.

But somehow you and I have come to a terrible misunderstanding. You think that whenever we put on shoes, it’s so we can go visit Grammy. Whenever ANYONE puts on shoes, it’s to visit Grammy. This means that several times a day you follow me around the house, attempting to put sandals on my feet while I’m still walking, insistently saying, “Shoes? Shoes? SHOES?”

You bring your own sandals to me and thrust them in my face. “Shoes? Buh-ba! Shoes? Buh-ba!” This does not always end well for you, since very often the plan is not to go to Grammy’s. And so you launch your very own Plan B, wherein you grab me by the hand and attempt to drag me to the front door.

Kiddo, I outweigh you by quite a bit, especially right now. You are an exceptionally strong, capable, determined little person…but it ain’t happening.

Sometimes you’re able to shake off this setback like it ain’t no thang at all, and you go back to playing with your sticker book or stripping the clothes off your baby dolls or trying to share cheese sticks with the cats.

But sometimes it feels like the end of the world. You stand in front of me and sob, giant tears rolling down your cheeks, and incoherently bleat requests at me, not just to see Grammy, but for your other favorite things in life, too (tops on the list right now: Daniel Tiger/Curious George, ham, blueberries, or a squeeze pouch).

I’m not going to lie: in those moments it’s really hard not to open the fridge and kitchen cabinets, grab you whatever your heart desires, and then turn on the tv. I also will not lie: there have been a few moments when that’s exactly what I did. But mostly I just try to distract you, which is not an easy task.

If I try to pick you up, you push me away.

If I invite you to sit with me and read a book to calm down, you wrench it from my hands and fling it on the floor.

If I ignore you, you cling to my legs and beg to be picked up…and then when I reach for you, you try to drag me to the door.


It’s so tough being you, little one, and I mean that sincerely. You have all these feelings and all these things that you want to do, and you’re starting to learn that we operate within a framework, aka the real world, that doesn’t allow us to do whatever we want, whenever we want. As a toddler you certainly have more leeway than most (your Aunt Leslie and I joke frequently about how we wish we could adopt some of your strategies, like bolting away while screeching and flapping our arms whenever anyone asks us to do something), but there are still plenty of limits in your life.

You’re testing everything right now and it is completely exhausting. Your dad and I frequently ask each other, “Is this a battle worth fighting?” Sometimes we decide that it’s really not. You want your plastic horse at the dinner table with you? And you want to pretend to feed it green beans? Fine. Sure. Let’s go with that. You’re at the table with us and you’re eating plenty of your own food, so we just roll with it.

But sometimes, it really is worth standing our ground. Not because of table manners, but because it involves your personal safety. Yes, you need to hold our hands while we’re in a parking lot. No, you cannot run around the yard holding that javelin-length stick that you found. Yes, you need to sit in your highchair until we help you out of it, and no, launching yourself over the side is not a valid exit strategy.


I know eventually all of this will us pay off and you’ll decide it’s not worth fighting us on these things, since you cannot win. We mean it. So, maybe in 15-20 years?

And in the meantime, when I’m frazzled and you’re ricocheting around the house like an amped-up pinball, and I feel like I’m totally out of options for entertaining you that don’t involve our dear friend Elmo, I know I still have one trump card left.

Let’s put on SHOES! And visit GRAMMY!

Love always,

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