golden age

monkey girl, originally uploaded by Kristy and Eva.

twenty months. the big 2-0. so many people have agreed with my new assessment that 20 months is an amazing age. it's the best yet, and as far as i'm concerned, we could just pause here for a couple months. i'm so in love with the person she is today that at times i can hardly breathe. but then there are those other times, the times when i *have* to breathe to avoid yelling at the ceiling. the amazing moments far outnumber the challenges, but it's the rapid swing between the two that can be dizzying. like this:

i wake up to a little monkey tapping my shoulder saying "hey mama? hey? mama, look... sun!" i roll over and see her sweet face inches from mine beaming, thrilled at the prospect of a new day.

she sits playing with a few toys, peacefully singing to herself, the now-familiar melody of her own making, the lyrics ever-changing to narrate her thoughts like a troubadour: ah la la mamaaa, mama car buy fooood. happyyyy birthday gram, ah baaaa, obamaaa. eva sit chair, ah la ba da lemma barrrrk, liam house ah nah nah eva look moon, moon windoooow....

pow! she sits in her chair eating breakfast and puts her right foot onto the table approximately three hundred times, each time saying "eva foot table?", shaking her had to indicate she knows the answer, then laughs at her own cleverness. mama struggles, because the logical consequence can't (always) be to remove this waifish child from her source of nourishment. i remove her to the tower to hopefully eat a few more bites, and suddenly we're doing a few dozen rounds of "i need you to keep you feet on the tower, it's not safe to climb onto the counter, eva." only yesterday, it hadn't yet occurred to her to climb onto the counter (!), can we rewind to then? she heads to the living room and for the first time ever, attempts to scale the entertainment center. what the hell? reset:

i crouch down like a catcher and reach out my arms. my little girl spies me and lights up. she runs to me, laughing and reaching until we're all wrapped up in each other. the best is when she does this from across a grassy field, and i have time to really absorb the joy on her face as she makes her way toward me.

she asks to see and do everything that we're involved in, and she wants to know how everything works. her expression makes it clear that she's storing away every detail. she turns the screwdriver into screw heads on larry's project. she closes the soap door and pushes the buttons on the dishwasher. she doesn't miss a thing.

crash! she ends up on the floor screaming because i've given her regular water rather than her coveted papa bubble water (larry's mineral water). i need to pick my battles, but for some reason i just feel like she shouldn't *only* drink mineral water. in reality, i'm sure it's not going to kill her. reset:

she cheerfully follows directions, like "pick up all these toys please and put them in the box" or "take these clothes to papa and ask him to help you get dressed" or "go get your coat and shoes out of mama's bag and bring them here." she seems thrilled at her accomplishments, as she should be.

she announces to the room: "i need peepee potty. mama help? eva walk a potty, mama read book?". except when we're busy at friends' houses or about to get into the car, i never ask her about going potty, and she seldom has accidents. she recently started consenting to going on regular big toilets, and today for the first time went outside in the grass. hurray for not having to always run to the car! (the ability to go to the bathroom at target or on a hike is huge.)

wham! she kicks her legs like she's trying to run through the air to escape the arms that hold her, crying "noooooo!" at the mention of going potty (or if larry tries to help her when she asks for me). she refuses to go, then matter-of-factly announces "eva pee" (and she has) about 27 seconds later. she proceeds to have two more accidents since they must come in threes for some reason. reset:

she talks literally all day long, telling me stories and describing the things in her world. i feel like she's pulled back the curtain and i finally get to watch the show that's been going on in her mind all along.

she sees larry and i standing in the kitchen, holding each other, and watches us with a blissful, peaceful look on her face, saying "huuuug!". when she asks "eva hug?" we snatch her up comply with a big ol' family hug, all of us grinning like idiots.

she runs! she gets all excited about something and takes off, bounding across the grass or sprinting across the house, saying "i running. fast! eva fast running!") she practices jumping, and both feet even leave the ground -- just not at the same time. she's thrilled nonetheless.

smack! i forget to check in with her for about 45 seconds, until i sudenly realize that chatter i'd been half-tuning out while tidying up the kitchen was "lemma lo-goht", and sure enough, the table, chair, child, floor, and dog are all covered with the yogurt she was so charitably offering to the dog (who had been patiently awaiting this sort of familar scenario). as i try to clean up, she continues to fling any yogurt which remains within her reach. mama grumbles, papa laughs (from a distance). reset:

she shares with me her imagination, hooking her beloved "neckie"/necklace up over both her ears and telling me it's an "ipop", just like mama's ipod headphones. she tells me a crooked stick is a bird (she's not wrong, now that i actually look), or points to car headlights and tells me they're "car eyes" -- and follows that up by pointing out which of the cars are "happy" (i guess by the shape of the grill, as she's into spotting smiling faces lately?).

she gets her first taste of chocolate (70% cacao dark chocolate, so very little sugar, but she doesn't mind the bitterness it seems), and later busts me sneaking a piece when i thought she was otherwise occupied. she pleads: "eva more bite shockie? tasty!" she identifies mama wine, papa beer, and papa coffee, too... all the fun beverages, while she gets only water. poor baby.

bang! she nearly loses it in target, wailing "noooo!" and trying to climb out of the cart, twisting around from within the strap she has suddenly revealed to be utterly useless. she throws everything i hand her as a potential distraction directly onto the floor then looks to me for my reaction. she wants her necklace, so i hand it to her, and she yells in protest and throws it, then immediately screams to have it back. i have no idea what she wants, so i resort to helplessly trying to just acknowledge her general feelings. that, and pushing the cart noticeably faster. it's my fault for thinking i could get batteries at target for our beeping smoke alarm (which puts the geriatric scardy-dog into a nearly convulsive state, so it was a mission of mercy), but after eva was already clearly fed up with bra shopping at the mall -- and all this on a short-nap day! but knowiing it's my fault doesn't make it any more fun. reset:

at home, she nurses and lookes up at me, blinking slowly. after she's sure she has caught my eye, she reaches her hand up to calmly wave, as if to further connect with me. i murmur "hi baby" and kiss her hand, holding on to it. i ask her questions, and she'll shake her head while nursing. i ask her something she thinks is funny, and she grins and delatches long enough to offer up her reply, then goes right back to nursing -- but now with a smile showing in the corners of her eyes. i smile back, breathe deeply, and play with her hair for a while.

she lays on papa's chest on the sofa. i ask if she's snuggling papa, and she pats the other side of larry's chest, offering "mama suggle papa" too. so i do for a beautiful minute. when i tell her it's time to go night-night, she tips her head up unprompted to give papa kisses, then sits up and throws her arms around me, says "hug mama", and rests her head on my shoulder. she blows kisses to papa over my shoulder as we walk toward the stairs. our hearts melt.

ka-plewie! occasionally, she rolls around in bed, done with the story and with nursing, but now wide awake. she's all but bouncing off the walls, after being half a breath from sleep seconds before. she gleefully announces "kick mama!" and she does. she observes "i hitting mama!" and she is. i gently but consistently try to modify her behavior, and she laughs maniacally and whacks be on the nose with a book.. i do my best, untl i lose it and leave the room, announcing to larry that it's his turn now. i sit downstairs and feel like an ass for having felt so angry with a toddler, but that face clawing gets me every time. i vow to handle it better next time. reset:

most nights, she snuggles into bed, asking for her blankie, her bunny, and a story. when she tires, she yawns and says "side a milk, mama, all done book" and i nurse her to sleep, nestled together in the dim light, in the peaceful quiet only found at the end of day. and she *sleeps*. she wakes up once or twice but returns to sleep within seconds after i walk into the room to soothe her, and we both sleep until the first light of a new day.

it's a crazy ride every day, but i find the longer i mother, the more i can just roll with the punches (literally, oh the punches!). not that the annoyances don't sometimes build up and then some, but generally i can manage things that would have thrown me a few months ago. i guess your skills slowly grow as your kid grows. but all those things seem so small in the face of how amazing she is right now. she's old enough to do so much -- to explore and run and learn and socialize and sing and has the words to tell me all about it -- but isn't yet in the throws of full-on toddlerness. what a beautiful thing. i figure i can store this away and draw on it when i need strength down the road, haha.

i'm working every day at staying in the moment, soaking it all up. and i'll keep saying this even though i keep proving myself wrong -- i couldn't possibly love this girl any more than i do right now. forgive the cheese, i can't help it... we're just crazy in love.

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