Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Not-Quite Terrible Not-Quite Twos

These last few weeks have been a real excersize in holding my temper, and an excersize in the amazing brainpower of toddlers. Charlotte has recently learned how to/started to:

* Stick things up her nose (mostly paper and stuffed animal fluff)

* Gnaw on the slats of her crib, after we covered the rails, footboard and headboard

* Climb out of her playpen

* Climb onto our bed

* Say "uh-uh"

* Say "dank you" for thank you

* Get her milk cup out of the fridge

* Play pretend on her own

The list of cons - the "uh-uh" has got to be the most annoying thing she knows how to say. I know that some people hate it when their kid says "No!" to everything, but I just have a hard time dealing with the whiny, "uh-uh!" when asked to do something. "Charlotte, can you come hear please so Mama can put in your ponies?" "Uh-uh!" The sticking-things-up-her-nose phase came earlier than I was prepared for, but after she sneezed out a huge wad of paper, Charlotte may be re-thinking that hobby. But the most terrible issues of all are the ones surrounding the bed and bedtime.

I will be the first to admit that I'm a chewer. I chew my nails. I chew gum. I chew on pen caps and toothpicks and water bottle caps. I still remember how it felt to chew on the top bunk bed railing, and the coffee table in the living room and erasers in art class. My sister once joked about me, "Oh yeah, Barbie shoes are like gum!" So I wasn't surprised when Charlotte started chewing on the crib rails. We covered them up with a hard plastic cover that was too easily removed, and then the silicone teething rail cover that attached with adhesive. (Which, by the way, is cheaper from onestepahead.com than from Babies R' Us, even taking into account the cost of shipping!) That held the chewing instinct at bay for a while, but then Charlotte started gnawing on the footboard of her crib! We searched the internet for something to cover that up, and found some fleece covers that tie on - which are now EVERYWHERE but we couldn't find to save our lives three months ago. We thought we were save, until one day when we found Charlotte laying on her side, chewing on the vertical slats of the crib.

Chewing. On. The. Vertical. Slats. Of. The. Crib.

To. Splinters.

I'm just stunned and hysterical at this point. We put the bumpers back on, and she just pushes them down and goes to town. This is the point where we have the brilliant idea to only put her down for nap in her play pen, since naptime is the worst chewing time. This works out great for about three weeks, until one day the play pen is placed just a little too close to another piece of furniture, and Charlotte climbed out during naptime and trashed her room.

Right now we're in this state of denial where we know that sooner or later we'll just have to bite the bullet and completely toddlerproof her room and convert her crib to a toddler bed. I'm just not ready for Charlotte to be in a big girl bed - she's not even two! And her room is babyproofed, but that's not the same thing as toddlerproofed. To me, babyproofed means that a 1 year old under adult supervision is safe. Toddlerproofed means that you can leave your kid in that room overnight and she won't find some furniture to climb, or pull on top of her, or cord to pull on, or toy to destroy and choke on. I may be a little more paranoid than most, but I also have stories of my own childhood to go from. Apparently "I climba out!" is genetic.

At the same time, Charlotte is just growing so fast mentally that it almost makes up for all the craziness. Her language has just taken off, and she can tell longer and longer stories and sentences that make sense. Sort of. Last week she dumped all her food off her tray, and as I gaped in annoyance, she said, "Mama, Maddie will clean it up." Now, granted, Maddie is a toothless 8 year old cat who never cleans ANYTHING up, but it was pretty funny that Charlotte decided that would be her excuse for making a mess. And as a sentence, it was clear as day and made perfect sense. Kinda blew my mind, really.

Pretend play is really taken off. She's been "doing voices" for a really long time - partially in imitation of us when we read stories to her, and partially just out of her really insane love of Elmo. It's not that she has a lot of Elmo toys or books, she just likes the ritual of Elmo's World on Sesame Street, and likes to go through the routine herself. Frequently on the changing table or in her high chair, Charlotte will say, "Hi, Elmo!" in her high-pitched Elmo voice. That's our cue to talk about the things they talk about in the Elmo's World segment. We talk about Dorothy (his pet goldfish, for anyone w/o kids, or lucky enough to be a no-TV family) and whatever topic of the day. Once I suggested "Plants" as a topic of the day, and made up all these things that Elmo would say about plants, and now that's the fallback subject. Anyway, the point is that this is frequently done in an Elmo voice, and it is hilarious. Charlotte's bestest stuffed friend, a very pathetic Tigger, doesn't have a voice, but he does have some bad habits. He likes to chew on beds, touch things he's not supposed to, and touch poopy diapers. These are all things that Charlotte knows she's not supposed to do, and blamed on Tigger. I once came in to get her up from nap and found her chewing on her crib rail.

Mama: Charlotte! What are you doing?

Charlotte: No chew. No chewing!

Mama: That's right, no chewing. No chewing on beds.

Charlotte: (holding Tigger up to freshly splinted crib rail) Tigga, no chew! No chewing!

Today, while watching some episode of one of the four TV shows I let her watch, there was a bee flying around. Charlotte then looked at me and said, "I a bee!" and ran around the room with her arms out, saying, "bzz, buzz!" and I was floored. It was the first time that Charlotte has ever spontaneously decided to be something (other than Elmo) all on her own, and then acted it out appropriately!

I swear, my kid is a genius.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


My sister finally gave birth to my nephew last Thursday at 1:04 AM. Yay! His name is Gavin, and he's adorable, if I do say so. Charlotte hasn't met him yet, but she will this weekend. I'm so exciting to see them together, but I'm also a little nervous. Charlotte is used to being the baby and to getting not only all of Mumma and Daddy's attention, but quite a bit of Auntie's attention, too. Charlotte really isn't all that interested in babies, either.

The other day we went to visit Matt's mom and visit with his sister and the other nephew, the big kid. He'll be nine in October, and he is one of the most fascinating people in the world, both to me and Charlotte. Charlotte follows him around, and says, "Hi, K. Hi, K. Hi, K..." over and over until I say to him, "Just say, 'Hi, Charlotte.' She'll be happy, and she'll leave you alone." One of my favorite moments from the visit happened early on, when he was playing a synthesizer program on the Nintendo DS to make music, and Charlotte danced to it. A little moment, but really, that's about as interactive as you can expect from an almost nine year-old and almost two year-old.

Charlotte has really been pushing her "almost two" status. She's kinda destructive and hyper and chatty. It's hilarious, but we are also almost constantly trying to keep her away from anything she can chew up. She has destroyed huge sections of her crib by gnawing it to splinters. This week Charlotte started putting things up her nose...pieces of paper and little pieces of fluff she's pulled off her blankie and Tigger. It's kind of crazy-making. But at the same time, she's telling all these stories and really expanding her language by leaps and bound. I'm amazed at how well she remembers song lyrics, and movie/tv show dialogue, even from stuff that I haven't emphasized. She's great with theme songs. Charlotte's current favorite movie is Mary Poppins, and all the songs that go with it. She's way into Sesame Street as well, and randomly quotes it. Charlotte chewed a piece of veggie burger (pronounced "chicky bugga") into a triangle and told me that "this my favorite favorite triangle," which is something that Telly on Sesame Street said one time. It totally blew my mind that not only did she recognize a shape in her food, that she could pick a quote out of her memory that applied. Crazy. And on Tuesday, I was changing her diaper while she was waving a drumstick (sticks are still the toy of choice around here) over another toy. "pee-a buttah sammich!" she announced a few times. I realized that she was saying "a la peanut butter sandwiches!" like Mumford the Magician from Sesame Street.