My Bean is growing in every way all of a sudden. She has moved up a size in clothes, which is super exciting for me because I was getting tired of dressing her in her 12 month stuff. For those not familiar with the Bean, she’s tiny – 3 3/4 years old and now wearing 18 – 24 month clothes. What mom doesn’t love new clothes, even if they’re for her child and not for herself?
Walking is the Bean’s favourite hobby. She toddles around everywhere, dancing if there is music and running (sort of) if she’s super excited. She sure keeps me hopping when we’re in public – her curiosity knows no bounds, so she’s off the second I put her down. A whole new world has opened up to her and it is so much fun to help her explore and discover new things.
She keeps herself busy while I’m working in the kitchen by removing plastic containers from the cupboard and distributing them around the house. She loves to “help” me wash dishes, standing on a chair at the second sink with her own bowl of sudsy water. While it makes a huge puddle on the floor, and she keeps stealing the clean dishes from the rack and putting them back in my dishwater, it can be tremendous fun. I still eventually get the dishes done.
Laundry is a similarly fascinating chore. Bean likes to push the buttons on the washer and dryer, so after we load them, she closes the door and gets them started. She recently started taking clean clothes out of the laundry basket and putting them away in her drawer. As long as I’m one step ahead of her, she manages to put the right things away in the right places and I don’t have to reorganize when she’s done.
The challenge of communicating with the Bean is starting to get a little easier. She attempts to copy everything we say, and it’s been a blast finally being able to teach her new words and have her respond. With Christmas coming up in a few days, we were thrilled that she has learned to recognize and sort of say “Santa”. We’re still working on “Baby Jesus”. She had a Santa cupcake at her Christmas party, and since she associates cupcakes with birthdays, she wanted to blow out a candle. I used that opportunity to remind her that it is Baby Jesus’ birthday, and we sang and pretended to blow out a birthday candle. So cute. However, the fact is that Santa is a much more compelling symbol for a toddler – bright colours, concrete concepts, and presents…the importance of the birth of Jesus is a little too abstract for her yet.
My favourite part of parenthood these days is playing with the Bean. She has a great imagination and loves to make jokes and laugh. Her jokes usually involve some sort of slap-stick comedy, and she giggles uncontrollably at her own antics. She loves to be tickled and startled, asking for “moh” (more) over and over again. At the playground, she enjoys climbing the structure and sliding with me down the big-kid slide. When we get to the bottom, she pretends to be a chicken as she waddles back to the stairs again, flapping her wings and clucking, “buh, buh, buh”.
Preschool continues to be an awesome experience for the Bean. Her teacher is on maternity leave, but they’ve had a string of wonderful substitutes in the meantime, and the teacher’s assistants are a stable presence for the kids in their teacher’s absence. Bean is apparently the “angel” of the class – the sweetest and least disruptive. Of course she is – she’s her mother’s daughter! But seriously, I feel very fortunate that her diagnosis doesn’t come with an expectation of major behavioral challenges. She certainly gets frustrated and can be persistent about having things her way, but unlike some of the other kids in her class, she doesn’t tend to lash out physically or flop down on the ground in protest. At her most aggressive, she’s just really loud and squirmy. I get more resistance from her at home than they do at school, I think, but that’s pretty normal for most kids.
Mostly, these days, she feels like a delightful 2-year-old. It seems appropriate to me that her mental age seems to fit her physical age, even if they don’t correspond with her chronological age exactly. She’s starting to get interested in dolls and playing dress-up. If they didn’t make her also do other activities, she would be a permanent fixture in the play kitchen at school. At home she loves to build with and knock down blocks, pull stickers off their sheets and stick them everywhere, have tea parties with Elmo, and get dirty in her sandbox. When I’m digging around in the garden, she joins me, although a lot of soil still goes in her mouth.
Our biggest challenge with the Bean continues to be her sleep habits. Currently, she mostly sleeps with us in our bed. She won’t settle and fall asleep at night time without one of us lying beside her. If we do put her in her own bed, she wakes up an hour later and we have to do it again. She still takes naps but if she sleeps for more than an hour in the afternoon, she’s up until 9 or 10 pm, which means that my Sweetie and I don’t get much of an evening together. We’re working on some strategies to get her sleeping consistently in her own bed. She is too persistent at this point for the Cry-It-Out method, and frankly, I’m too soft-hearted to be able to stand it. I think part of it is that she’s just a very physically affectionate child. She needs the reassurance and comfort of a snuggle – I say there are worse things in this world than that, for sure.
Potty training is in the concept stage right now. She’s starting to make it known when she needs a diaper change. We’re working on recognizing when she’s actually going so we can start to preempt it and get her to the toilet. But she doesn’t like sitting on the potty or on her little toilet seat, so we’re trying to get her used to that first. As with most things in the Bean’s life, it will take a lot more time than it does for most other kids. That’s just the way it is for us. And in the meantime we’re helping to keep Pampers and Tide in business.
I predict that the coming year will be one of even bigger leaps and more impressive bounds. Our Bean will be turning 4 in March – it’s surreal to think about. I feel like I’m finally coming into my own as a mother. The extended infant stage was not my ideal situation…as much as I love babies, having one for 3 years while all the other kids are changing rapidly was a little disheartening and quite difficult for me. As always, though, when I look for the silver lining it’s there. Most mothers mourn the speedy passing of the infant stage. I got to coddle and snuggle and baby my little one a whole lot longer than most moms before she became a wriggly wild thing. Every milestone reached tastes that much sweeter because of the struggle it took to get there. I don’t take anything about the Bean for granted. I marvel at how far she’s come in the last year and I feel grateful for all the help we have along the way.
What a blessed life we live!