Saturday, November 22, 2008

"My Tummy's Grumpin.'"

At three months shy of 3, Berit suddenly has solid views regarding age limits for booster chairs, she wonders if I love her 20 times a day, and she has lots of "great ideas," which usually involve me carrying her/putting Marta down/going to a park where it's warm. She emotes about the weather ("Mommy, I DON'T love the cold.") and thinks that Santa is coming to her house any moment now to bring her a drum. (He will.)

I had thought she'd passed by the dreaded "WHY?" phase without getting hooked on asking the infamous toddler question a thousand times a day, but it turns out she was just waiting until she could string more words onto said question. Now when I do something, anything, this is what happens:

Me, pouring her cereal.

B: "Mom, why did you get me Puffins?"
Me: "Because I know how much you like them."
B: "Ooh. Why did you know that?"
Me: "Because last time we had Puffins, you ate them all up!"
B: "AH! I did eat them all up! Why did I eat them all up like that?"
Me: "You must have been very hungry."
B: "I was. When do we get hungry?"
Me: "When our bellies are empty."
B: "How do our bellies get empty?"
Me: "Our food turns into energy."
B: "What can I do with energy? Can I do this? Can I pick that up? Why can't I pick that up? Who can pick that up?"
And on and on.

She has also found a use for every moment of my day. Here's a snapshot of today:

Me, thinking: "Marta's finally napping. Now I can start to clean up."
Berit: "Mommy, I want to sit on the potty!"
Me: "Great job, Berit! Here you go."
B: "Now get me a book."
Me: "Be right back."
B: "Now read it to me."
Me: "No, you're big enough to sit on the potty, so you can read it yourself. I have to stand right outside the door and clean."
B: "OK Mama. Hey Mama? Could you fix my hair?"
"Hey Mama? Could you fix the potty so it's not sticking on my legs?"
"Hey Mama? Could you go get Saucy? (her doll)"
"Hey Mama? Look at all the toilet paper I put on the floor."
"Hey Mama? I want to potty in my diaper."
"Hey Mama? Come here, I want to tell you something. (Holding out fingers for each item she lists...) We potty on the potty, we potty in dipes, we pee-pee in Pull-Ups, we DON'T potty in big girl panties."
And so on. 

So these are fun things happening in our lives lately. But nothing comes close to the game we must play at all hours of the day: Pretend We're A Different Family. 

Every 3 seconds Berit tells me, "Mama, you're Ellen, I'm Liam, Daddy's Will, Marta is Brennan and Mosey is Roxy. Hi Ellen! Hey Ellen, what're you doing? Hey Ellen, play with me. Hey Ellen, are you makin' lunch?"

(Ellen, Will, Liam, Brennan and Roxy are our very dear friends. Roxy is a dog.)

If it's not the above-mentioned Dart family, it's my brother-in-law and his family ("Hey Mama, you're Aunt Stephanie, I'm Annie, Marta is Jemma and Daddy is Uncle Jason. Hi Stephanie! What're you doing, Stephanie?") or it's my friend Kelly and her family, Emma, Andrew and Emma's Daddy (who is also Andrew's Daddy, for the record).

It was cute at first. Now it's just ridiculous. We'll be in the middle of a great bonding moment and all of a sudden I'm Ellen or Stephanie or Kelly and we have to talk in very high voices (apparently this is what my friends sound like to her) and I have to be overly sweet (thanks, friends, for being so gosh darn sweet to Berit. Maybe next time you'd like to give her a time out or two for good measure). 

I'm sure it has something to do with understanding that 1) We live parallel lives with Ellen and Kelly, and for all she knows Jason and Stephanie (who live in East Grand Rapids); 2) Those people exist without her being there to witness their existence; and 3) Those people just seem like a whole lot more fun than Mom when I'm carrying on with our daily life.

Is this a stepping stone to playing house? Does it sound as annoying as it really is?

 I am looking forward to Age 3. There are a lot of exciting things that I really think she's ready for, like gymnastics and preschool. And every day she tells us the funniest things -- we love listening to her carry on long conversations about her thoughts or listening to what she dreamt about the night before. "We went outside and played on my tire swing!" (Yesterday.)

I'm a little shocked that this is the time when I'm supposed to be introducing reading and other very important skills. She's interested in Dora the Explorer, and already repeats a list of Spanish words I don't understand... Looks like I get to add learning a new language to my To Do list. I feel a little like someone official will come to my door one day to appraise my mothering skills and tell me what to do next. There's no more just getting through each day; some of our time needs to be devoted to learning play to help her develop preschool skills. 

One thing's for sure. From now on I'm going to encourage my friends to do a lot more cleaning, napping and shopping around her.

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