Posts Tagged ‘ashelyn

four years

Posted on: 30 May 2016

Dear Ashelyn,

Two months ago you turned four. But you talk with the ten-year-olds, and you have the potty humor of a six-year-old boy. You know words like kaleidoscope and exterminator and Galapagos, although you still insist on calling wordsearches “search-wurch.” New and notable: you can write your name!

imageLately text has seized your interest. “What does this say?” you’ll ask, pointing to a speech bubble from the (French) Akissi comic you very randomly latched onto at the library. You have notebooks in which you ask me to write words and phrases like “I had a good dream” or “poop” for you to copy. Legibility is slowly improving … but you’ve also found a way to bypass that quibble by discovering touchscreen typing. So the third thing you ask of me is to spell words while you hunt for the right letters on a QWERTY. Despite the screen nazi I tend to be, I haven’t tried to discourage this activity because it will inevitably be part of your world, right?

imageI don’t know how we landed here, all fancy and pre-literate, but all of a sudden you’re like, “Balloon starts with b. Buh buh b. Fairy starts with f. Fuh fuh f.” Then again, I’ve also caught you saying, “Duh duh w,” so there’s that.

Three was a roller coaster, the wildest one by far. You were like the girl from that limerick: When she was good she was very, very good, and when she was bad she was horrid. You’ve sparked magnitudes of rage I never even knew I was capable of. Two weeks last summer were particularly rough; there was one day you spent maybe half your waking hours screaming in your room. And then, just as I began thinking I might have royally screwed up somewhere … the ride levelled out.

With you, I feel like much of the grunt labour of parenting is now behind us. You dress yourself, feed yourself, use the toilet. You can play independently, make friends, buckle yourself into the carseat. And it took, oh, 3.5 years, but you’re finally sleeping like a normal human being!

imageInteracting with you has never been more interesting, more complex, more delightful. Your witticisms are whipsmart, old-soul. “Mama, I had FOUR CANDIES! At first daddy said not to tell you, but now I’m telling you. Daddy is not here, so he can’t say anything.” “Let’s play Go-Go-Stop. When you say go I will go, and when you say stop I will go.” “I have two hearts. One is broken, and one is smiling.” You were an early talker – over a hundred words by eighteen months – and you haven’t slowed down since. To be honest, it’s the constant dialogue that I find most exhausting. Broken sleep has nothing on lack of silence. But our conversations are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and how does one explain honour, or optics, or sarcasm to a preschooler, anyway?

My Neighbor Totoro was your first movie, which you watched recently, in three installments because you’re only supposed to have twenty minutes of screentime a day. Besides, you seem to have inherited my pathetically low tolerance of intense movie scenes. So, even though you know all the songs from Frozen, you’ve never actually watched the movie. You probably wouldn’t like it, yet. There were two ice monster stickers in your Frozen-themed stickerbook, and you promptly disappeared both by affixing them to daddy’s side of the bedside table, to “help him sleep.” Anyway, I mention Totoro because there’s a little girl your age in that story and, well, you’re way more mature than she is. At least, you’d never run off in a fit of passion and get yourself lost.

imageYou’re an enthusiastic helper. You actually clamour to rinse the dishes, mix batter, stir the pot, vacuum, fold laundry, help wash the car and mow the grass. There’s nothing more exciting, apparently, except maybe watching daddy gut seafood. And you’re astonishingly tidy; we’ve had to work on not cleaning up toys that someone else is in the middle of playing with, I’m not even kidding. One evening I was angry with you, and you apologized by tidying up the living room! I’ve watched in disbelief as you organized your books by size and your toy kitchen accessories by colour gradients.

I’m so pleased with your quickness to compliment others, your involvement at StrongStart, your wholehearted affection for your brother. The two of you playing together is all kinds of sweet. When Jariel was a newborn you hated for others to hold him; you worried that they’d bring him home. Around this time last year, when he was three months old, you casually rested your foot on his chest and quipped, “If I put my foot here and jump, then Jariel will break. But then I will be sad, because I like him! So I won’t do that.” Thank goodness you haven’t changed your mind.

imageParenthood is everything I’ve never learned. I see the joyful, intuitive, confident, driven person you could be, and I see qualities (like kindness) I’ll need to actively foster because they come to you less naturally. It’s the biggest job I’ve ever undertaken, but I’d rather be the one to do it full-time than anybody else.



Dear Ashelyn,

One year ago today, you were born in our bathroom, while your father freaked out because he didn’t know how to deliver a baby. (Well, now he does.)

IMG_3586You’re always bucking the script. Remember how you were crawling and pulling up and cruising and climbing at six months? At the rate you were hitting those milestones, you should have been walking months ago … but you’re not! (You do, however, “walk” on your knees.) This month you’ve been willing to walk while holding my hand or holding onto our fingers, but before, whenever we tried, you’d just become dead weight. Totally uninterested.

Do you realize this is infringing on my bragging rights?

I thank you for that.

You’ve started saying “hi.” It comes out more like “aye,” but people get the idea, especially since you say it repeatedly: “Hi. Hi. Hi!” I carry you in the Ergo, and you greet anyone who happens to come alongside us.

You also say “oh wow” and “uh oh” (originally “woh woh”). I know when you drop something on purpose because you’ll say “uh oh” before you let go.

Last month you were nodding and shaking your head in response to hearing the words “yes” and “no” … now you nod to mean yes and shake your head to mean no. Let’s go outside! Yes. Want another strawberry? Yes. Shall I take you for a minute and give mama a break? No.

IMG_3569You clap in response to “yay” and “good job” and “好棒啊!” When we say it’s time to brush your teeth – four now – you run your finger across your mouth like a toothbrush. When you see a stray tissue, you’ll use it to “wipe” the nearest surface. Then you’ll pinch it into little confetti bits. You know both the Mandarin and English words for “kiss,” and you give them freely, generously, maybe a touch too indiscriminately.

In the evenings, you flop backwards in bed and kick your legs crazily in all directions, a throwback to when you were mere weeks old. Part of me is still taken aback whenever I see babies younger than you are; wasn’t it just yesterday you were the newest of them all? And now, now you say “mama” and smush your nose into my face.

IMG_3561Some mothers say they no longer remember life before their little ones, but I do. I remember late nights and lengthy internet browsing and leisurely meals. I miss those things sometimes, but I’ve found parenthood to be remarkably good at exposing the selfish parts of me, prying them away without anaesthetic.

You’re worth it.


I’m (very, shamefully) late in noticing this, but you “dance” to music. It’s a little rhythmic bounce you do while standing or on your knees, often accompanied by wildly flailing arms.

The other day you were “dancing” a little too enthusiastically and bumped your chin into the coffee table. There was a minor amount of fussing, but the funny thing about your reaction to pain is (1) the delay, and (2) the disbelief. Whenever there’s a mishap you freeze, then make this incredulous hurt face that seems to say, How could this happen?

You love to watch video clips of yourself.

I have no idea where this came from, but you randomly and spontaneously attempt arabesques. (Sometimes while breastfeeding.)

IMG_3440Daddy was first to discover that you’ve begun crawling out of your highchair. (The straps on the toddler side are missing.) He occasionally drags the highchair into the kitchen so he can cook and supervise you at the same time, except one day he blinked and you’d half crawled onto the stove! Luckily he was only doing prep work, so none of the elements were on … I think.

Interestingly, you aren’t really drawn to stuffies or soft toys. You favour hard, shiny, SMALL objects … choking hazards. Of course.

IMG_3524Your other favourite plaything is a container full of some homogeneous item: a box of sugar packets, a basket of blankets, a laundry mesh bag of nursing pads. You’re a fan of scattering everything with gusto all over the place. You’re not a fan of cleaning up after.

Your crooked-salute wave became an up-and-down wave, and is now a real wave. You wave at the words “bye” and “hi” and “wave.” If you’re extra excited, you may wave with both hands.

And you can nod now! You nod at “yes” and shake your head at “no.” Although you still like to shake your head randomly.

You’re a chatterbox and your vocalizations span the entire alphabet; still, there are a few recurring syllables: the bright, chipper “ahn ahn ahn” (sometimes “ahn-ye”), the murmured “ma ma ma,” the impatient “dar dar dar.”IMG_3461

When it’s time to sleep, you protest by throwing yourself backwards, or squiggling around like a caterpillar in its death throes.

You know how to climb off the sofa.

You’re really getting the hang of mimicry, as evidenced by the growl-offs and squinty-face contests you have with daddy.

You’ve gone from this:

To this:

Over the course of this month you’ve flipped from front to back seven times, and back to front twice. “Tummy time” has you raising yourself up on your hands; elbows are so passé.

You’ll clamour for us to help you sit up and stand.

You’re totally curious about big people food. You’ve insisted on being held in our laps during mealtimes so that you can watch us eat. Sorry, bei, I’m totally not ready to deal with big people poop.

One evening the other week daddy was out late, so I called his cell phone and you left him an epically adorable voice message. The words were gibberish, of course, but the tones and inflections sounded eerily conversational. You deserve to be subtitled.

You play with your tongue, poking it out of your mouth for expressions that are extra squee.

You delight me.

You’re so much more responsive and interactive now! We’re totally holding deep conversations daily. Though I have no idea what you’re saying, I assume it’s something along the lines of, “Hi mama! I like you!”

You like to play with daddy too:

Recently I’ve been able to set you down for short periods in your swing or bassinet or pillow without fuss, YAY! You’ll hang out quietly, giving me a window of time to get certain things done around the house, things that are difficult to manage one-handed, like laundry and dishes and vacuuming. Sometimes you even fall asleep on your own! I’d break out in a SUPER HAPPY DANCE over this except – wait! Laundry and dishes and vacuuming!

You don’t cry anymore during baths and diaper changes. At times you seem to enjoy them. When we change you out of a poopy diaper, or bundle you up in a towel after a bath, more often than not you’re all smiley and happy.

You arch your back and kick your legs so hard that your daddy has almost dropped you, twice.

We’ve had to be really diligent about prying apart your FAT ROLLS in order to wash in the creases. Otherwise “cottage cheese” grows there and the skin becomes red and raw. And smelly, you know, like a dirty belly button. Yeah, there are downsides to being chubby enough to eat.

* My mom finds an excuse to drop by every few days. David tells me that before Ashelyn was born, mom was all, “Oh, it’s not a big deal,” and now she’s all, “Let’s go see the baby!”

* Ashelyn tends to cluster feed in the evenings until around midnight, give or take an hour. Feedings on a good night look something like this: 11:00, 2:30, 6:00, 9:30 (Apr/23-24). On a bad night: 11:00, 12:40, 2:00, 5:00, 6:30, 9:30 (Apr/24-25). I remember being mortified when new fathers said of their wives, “She hasn’t slept for more than two hours at a time for two months!” But actually, it’s not as bad as it sounds. Not as bad as I thought. (I don’t think I’ve had more than four hours at a stretch, but I’ve definitely slept more than two.)

* Ashelyn is weird in that she resists burping. I see her trying to swallow them back down, and when she does burp, she gets this stricken look on her face, like, Was that me? It’s okay to burp, girl! Saves us dealing with gas-related fussiness later!

* Next Monday we’re going to Harrison with my side of the family, spending a night at the hotsprings. This was my mom’s idea. Monday is the day Ashelyn turns one month, and the Sunday before that is my birthday. I must be getting old, because I’m as nervous as I am excited, worrying about how Ashelyn will handle a two-hour drive, and how do I pack for a one-month-old? And will she annoy the people in neighbouring hotel rooms at night? I don’t want them giving me dark looks in the morning.

On Friday, at three weeks, you weighed in at NINE POUNDS. That’s a gain of two pounds in two weeks! Clearly you are a rockstar.

So far, you don’t seem to be a huge fan of baths. The first time, you freaked right out. Since then you’ve been calmer, but still kind of nervous-looking. As with diaper changes, you like being clean, but the cleansing process? Not so much.

Oh, and you aren’t wild about being naked, either.

I can’t keep up with the rate at which your fingernails grow. The scratches along my neckline testify to that.

Sometimes we’ll know you’re hungry, yet you won’t eat. In fact the nipple will be IN YOUR MOUTH, and you’ll still be rooting around like a crazed woodpecker. This is, admittedly, hilarious, and I have no qualms about laughing at you. But then you become frustrated and start crying, and I’ll worry that you’ve suddenly forgotten how to latch or something. We’re slowly figuring that whenever this scenario plays out, you either (1) are gassy and need to burp or fart, or (2) have a dirty diaper and want it changed. Only then will you settle down and nurse. You are one particular little lady.

Speaking of nursing, you’re always hungry when I’M eating. So you interrupt my sleep AND my meals. What’s up with that?

You’re outgrowing your smallest onesies!