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.
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.