Thursday, January 23, 2014

AJ at 2

Dear AJ,

As you turn two and I reflect on your second year of life, it is amazing how much you have grown and developed over the past year.  Still, you continue to be our skinny little peanut: slim but wiry and strong.

You are exceptionally agile and can climb like a monkey.  When we are out at public play areas, other parents often seem surprised at how well, and how high, you can climb.  You are not fearless--in fact, you are still very much a "look before you leap" kind of person--but you are doggedly determined when you make up your mind to do something.  You could climb the ladder to the top of the jungle gym at our local park's playground before you were 22 months old--something that I don't see most children a year or two older doing--and you seem to enjoy climbing UP slides more than sliding DOWN.

At The Lit.tle Gym, you are able to hang on the high bar for longer than most of the other children in your class, and you can easily do forward rolls, wheelbarrows and the like.  After initially being a little reticent to give the teacher a "high five" in front of the whole class each session, you have now warmed up to her and happily trot forward. . . sometimes more than once.

Maybe the reason people are sometimes surprised by your abilities is that you appear, in some ways, to be younger than your actual age.  You don't talk very much.  You still have only four teeth, and though you are average height, you are a little on the skinny side and are still wearing 18-month clothes (and those fit you loosely).  Particularly seeing you standing next to your much-larger brother, people might think you are younger than you are.

You enjoy puzzles and shape sorters and will sit patiently until you figure out where each piece fits.  You don't ask for help, and when you finally get the last piece in its place, you clap for yourself.

You also enjoy building with blocks, and you will tear your tower down if you do not get it built  You like to knock down your brother's block towers, too, much to his chagrin.

Your brother takes toys from you often, and eight or nine times out of ten, you don't even protest; you just let him take them.  You then wait until he loses interest and moves on to the next thing--usually only a few minutes--and then go back and retrieve the toy you had been playing with before he took it.  Seems that you already have him figured out.

You continue to have an eye for detail that seems exceptional for a child of your age.  If I change my hairstyle slightly--wearing it straight instead of its usual naturally curly--or wear a blouse that is unfamiliar to you, you notice immediately and will examine my hair or clothing with your eyes and hands.  When you go out somewhere new, or somewhere familiar where there are new people, you quietly sit back and take in everything you see.

Since you and your brother moved to toddler beds several weeks ago, you creep out of yours nearly every night to press against your bedroom door.  If I come to the room to check if you are out of bed, you will generally scurry back to your bed, so I know that you know you are not supposed to be up.  Nonetheless, when your father goes to check on you before going to bed for the night himself, he will often find you have fallen asleep just inside the doorway of your room.  Neither of us is quite sure why you insist on waiting at the door each night.

As you are coming into this developmental phase where it is normal for children to assert their independence, you are rarely openly defiant.  But you will often ignore your father or me and do things we have just told you not to do.  When I have to move or correct you, you look at me and smile and say sweetly "Hi, hi!"  Your nanny and I joke that it's almost as though you're saying "Don't forget: I'm the little cute one, you don't want to scold me."

You are the most compassionate toddler I have ever known.  If another child cries, you will go and investigate and will bring him a toy in an attempt to comfort him.  When I was going through a period of severe daily headaches last summer, you noticed that I wasn't feeling well and placed your little hand on my back as if to say "It will be OK."  I don't know many toddlers under age 2 who even pay much attention to the distress of others, let alone feel moved to give them comfort.

You are an affectionate child, too, and love to give hugs and kisses.  You blow me a kiss any time I leave the house and when I put you to bed at night.  You will happily cuddle and sit in my lap most of the evening once I come home from work, and I suspect you spend a fair amount of many days cuddling with your nanny (who you particularly like) as well.  You even climb into the babysitter's lap when she arrives these days.

You are both a sweetheart and a challenge, and I look forward to many more years of being your mother.

I love you,

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