Posts Tagged ‘toddler

Dear Jariel,

One year ago you were born into the oversized mesh underwear I had just changed into ten minutes prior. We’d made it to the hospital this time, barely made it into the room nearest the assessment area, didn’t make it onto the bed. They gave you a perfect Apgar, and they gave me the best peanut butter on toast I’ve ever had. You woke up every hour that first night and, uh, to date there’s been only marginal improvement. It’s okay, though. I’ll sleep when I’m dead.

imageLately you’re a velcro baby. There are times I suspect you’re trying to literally meld into one entity with me, as if I could absorb you like an amoeba if you smushed hard enough. It’s cute, but incapacitating. I function with one hand, one eye, and half my attention. I feel like I need to apologize to everybody for my inability to carry on an undistracted conversation.

You took your first step (singular) at eight months, but it took three months before your desire to walk surpassed your love of the Mowgli crawl. I think you finally realized that walking frees up your hands to hold things, or push over furniture. There was that one afternoon you chased your sister around the house as she handed you pieces of nori – basically paper you can eat! Which is all you’ve ever wanted, at least until I started giving you free rein at the playground. Then you were all, What are these crumbly little grains hmmm must taste test …

imageYour first word was mama, but I’m beginning to suspect that, all this time, you might actually have been saying mum mum, as in FOOD. Considering the overlap between the two, I suppose I can’t fault you too much. You eat very well, despite being on the leaner side, and you’re willing to try anything (see above re: sand). Your appetite is robust and your pincer grasp is masterful, but the mess is new territory for me, and I’m not even new at baby-led weaning. Your sister never gleefully squished her food into her hair.

Since unfamiliar people get immediate poker face treatment, most don’t know what a cheeseball you are. You like to climb onto the sofa and throw yourself around bodily, shrieking. (Yes, once you threw yourself clean off. Ouch.) The other day you were doing this, happy as a clam, when suddenly your mouth started bleeding. But you just kept going, leaving mouth-shaped blood stamps in your wake. It wasn’t until the day after that I figured out what happened: you severed your upper lip tie. And you didn’t even react.

imageYou may be wary of new people, but you adore new environments. Who was it who said that being a baby is like being in love, in Paris for the first time after having three double espressos?* Well, I believe it. I can see it in your face. Every time you point to a seagull, every time you scrabble at the sand under your tiny shoes, every time you spot a water fountain at the mall. And when you interrupt your antics to sidle over and lay your head under my chin, it’s how I feel about you, too.



*Alison Gopnik

She is on the brink of turning two, actually, so posting this up before then has clawed its way up my list of priorities.

Might as well channel your desire to “help” into doing chores, right? You like to scoop rice into the cooker, and you help me with laundry by handing me items as I hang them up to dry. (Still waiting on a dryer, landlords!) By mid-January you were able to identify which clothes belong to mama, which to daddy, and which to “Ashen!” Because that’s how you pronounce your name now.

Three more teeth popped out last month, bringing your total to … eleven. (You have fewer teeth than babies a year your junior!) I read an article several weeks ago about how teething probably doesn’t hurt, and while I understand teething to be a sacred scapegoat for infant fussiness, based solely on my experience with you I can’t disagree.

You’ve started stringing words together in earnest. “No more fig.” “Watch funnybear please, French one.” And the dreaded request demand, “[Want to] hold the iPod! Hold it!”

Then there are the more classic toddlerspeak ones, my recurring favourites being “No this!” and “That one this!” (Translation: this one.)

The concept of opposites – up and down, happy and sad – came easily to you. Often, when you request some tidbit, you specify the desired size as well. You may reject it altogether if we get this part wrong.

Now you want me to point at the text while reading.

You still like playing with decks of cards. And now, not only do you stack them in alignment, you’re particular about facing them all right-side-up.

Once I gave you a piece of pancake (leftovers from breakfast) to snack on as you played. Later, I discovered bits of that pancake in the change drawer of your toy cash register … torn oh so neatly into a dozen niblet-sized morsels. Were you storing it for an impending famine?

Of our library hauls, favourites have included Dear Zoo (Rod Campbell) and most of Taro Gomi’s work. You enjoy lift-the-flap books, like Where’s Spot? You cry, “Oh no!” in response to an illustrated sad face (you lamented theatrically through all of Madeline).

Yeah, she reads 400-page novels too ...

Yeah, she reads 400-page novels too, strange child.

In fact you partially read along with me; you remember and anticipate the words. This “co-reading” works especially well for rhyming text – you’ll gleefully fill in the last rhyming syllables of each line.

Co-singing is even better! It works the same way: I start off each line and you supply the last word. This came about after I watched Frozen with a friend and came home singing “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”

S: We used to be best –
S: But now we’re –
A: Not!
S: I wish you would tell me –
S: Do you wanna build a –
A: Snowman!

In early December we all went to see a hip hop dance studio production. It was a spur-of-the-moment deal; a colleague had tickets for his son’s show. I was afraid you’d be overtired, but you loved it, and watched as intently as daddy and I did. More, perhaps, because unlike us you were dancing in your seat.

Cozy Christmas morning.

Cozy Christmas morning.

I kind of dread cooking with you underfoot, because you are perpetually underfoot. Wanting up, wanting to see, wanting neh neh, wanting all three of the above at the same time. And wanting to help. If I haven’t yet been worn threadbare, I’ll let you spoon in seasoning and stir. One day you will cook for me, or so I persuade myself.

The way you pronounce mushroom … sounds very much like “man boob.”

You’re an enthusiastic sharer, to our delight and chagrin. Delight, because you offer so nicely! “Want one?” Chagrin, because you refuse to take no for an answer, and will continue to insist: “Want one?? WANT ONE?!”

Requisite "I dressed up so you'd better take a dang picture" shot.

Requisite “I dressed up so you’d better take a dang picture” shot.

Suddenly, after a single evening with grandma, you’re able to count to ten in Mandarin. Although you tend to miss si (four). You like to recite them while lying supine on the floor, doing leg raises.

This Christmas you decided that you aren’t a fan of Santa, at least up close. (You’re oddly fascinated from a distance.) “Scared [of] Santas!” you tell me, gesticulating wildly, often in the middle of something completely unrelated. “Weird!” HAHA.

no poo

Posted on: 27 December 2013

So, Ashelyn is constipated … I think?

I mean, no poop for as long as a week and a half is a pretty clear indicator of constipation, right?

She’s always had a slow gut; one poop every few days was our normal. Her previous record was ten days, but she was five months old then and exclusively breastfed. I was more mystified than anxious because I knew I couldn’t have done anything wrong.

Those were simpler days, when the fibre content of her diet wasn’t on my radar. Ashelyn eats well enough, but I can never be bothered to push her to consume food she rejects by serving it in different ways or sneaking it into known favourites.

Even now, the only sign of constipation is the actual lack of poop. There’s an odd absence of associated symptoms – no bloating or apparent discomfort, normal appetite, normal pees. When I prod her belly she giggles. She’s her regular cheerful self, running and jumping and dancing all over the place, all the live long day.

Except that diaper changes seem to terrify her. It’s like she expects them to hurt. (And she says as much, sometimes. She can indicate her diaper area and say, “Hurt!” Unfortunately not specific enough to be very useful. Does it hurt now? Or do you remember it hurt once before? Or are you afraid that it will hurt?) Diaper rash has never been a problem. And we mostly just wipe her with water and cloth.

Her “poop signal” hasn’t changed – it’s a specific facial expression and crouch – it just isn’t followed by poop anymore. There’s some straining and complaining going on when she does this. I can’t tell for certain whether she’s trying to go, without success, or fighting to hold it in.

I wish I knew which it was.

As for how this came to be, my best guess is that some time ago Ashelyn had a painful poop, or a brief series of painful poops. That plus her ever-increasing agency equals – unfortunately – poop resistance. And the rest is a vicious cycle.

You’ve taken to imitating your new little cousin. And, as it turns out, you’re a stunning mimic. The first time you echoed his cry we all thought it was him! When we visit, you’ll climb into his baby rocker – perhaps you remember it from your first year? – and flail your limbs in a grand show of helplessness.

You’re awesome at saying peese, dhank you, even sahwy and excuse me … though that last one is borderline indecipherable and sounds rather like mini. But the best part of teaching you these social niceties is the following exchange:

K: Now what do you say?

"What sound does a baby make?" "Waaah!"

“What sound does a baby make?” “Waaah!”

I’ve joked about your OCD leanings, but on second thought you aren’t compulsive, just obsessive. You’ll insist on fixing a drawer with an edge of blanket sticking out. One of our ceiling lights burnt out, so daddy took off the cover until we could replace the bulb. In the interim you WOULD NOT STOP pointing out the naked socket: “Uh oh! Uh oh!” All is not right with the world!

You’re showing interest in numbers, letters, and colours. Mostly numbers and letters. Mostly 1, 2, o, p, and l. Especially 2 and o. You love the letter o, and to you 2 seems to represent all of numerology.

Although colours and shapes are only beginning to pique your interest, you’re stellar at identifying animals. We really must take you to a zoo or petting farm or something. You ask me to draw cows and ducks and pandas (and snowmen and angry birds). You ask to see pictures of owls and penguins and giraffes on the computer (thanks, google image search).


I’ve been happier with your food intake lately. You’re far more likely to eat greens if (1) they’re presented in small morsels, (2) they’re soft and mushy, and (3) I call them “leaf!” Toddler life hack.

Grandma nagged me enough that I finally trimmed your bangs, which had grown out again after she sneakily cut them a couple months ago. Now you enthusiastically tell people that scissors go “ni ni nip!” Oh, and you do the snip snip snip hand gesture, too, except with the wrong fingers. You use index and thumb, so what you’re actually demonstrating is a pinching crab claw … whatever. It’s no less cute.

Your hair is plenty long enough for clips and pigtails, if only you wouldn’t rip them out two minutes in. Sigh.

Then there was the time you woke, sat up in bed, and the first words out of your mouth were, “Morning! Love you!” And I knew all was right in the world.

You’ve adjusted beautifully to our new place, even though it’s a dramatic downsize. We still managed to play a hysterical three-person game of hide-and-seek the other evening, though. Your first!

The nearest library is only a few blocks away (as opposed to thirteen, before) and we’ve definitely been taking advantage of that! Our current haul has been a major hit. Not only do you enjoy repeated back-to-back readings, you request specific books by name … not always by their official titles, though. For instance, Al Perkins’ Dr. Seuss-esque Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb features a refrain that goes, “Dum ditty dum ditty dum dum dum.” You call this book “beer bum.”

Addressing the dearth of female drummers.

Addressing the dearth of female drummers.

You do this with songs, too, and usually have strong opinions about which one you want to hear. The wrong tune is sure to be emphatically rejected. And your pitch seems pretty good so far; by this I am inordinately pleased.

You pronounce f as w: phone is wone, finished is winished, flower is vwower. Tofu is wohwu. Pillow, for some reason, is babu. Toddlerspeak: it’s the best. (I can’t wait till grammatical gymnastics kick in.)

If out of nowhere you start shrieking, chances are you’re playing with a collection of homogeneous items – like a deck of cards – and can’t get them into perfect alignment. Or perhaps you’re trying to screw a lid on but it happens to be crooked. I’m sorry. You inherited this crazy directly from me.

You’re also particular about cupboard doors being closed, and will promptly shut them after us if we leave them ajar (intentionally or otherwise). You like wiping down your own highchair tray. You’ll bring me stray hairs and fluff you find on the floor. “[Throw] away!” you say expectantly.



Once you dropped a woodbug into my palm. It was alive. That was not a good morning for me.

Nor for you, because you streaked into the hallway ahead of me and burned your hand on the nightlight daddy forgot to remove from its socket when he left for work. “Hot!” you wailed tearfully. Poor thing, but you know not to touch it now.

“Want one?” you’ll ask with excruciating sweetness, offering your cup of grapes or pomegranate or goldfish crackers. Feeding us is more fun than feeding yourself, apparently. The generosity dissipates, however, when it’s an exciting new treat … like pocky. (Thanks, mom, for plying her with junk food behind our backs.) In fact, you may offer up a taste as usual, only to snatch it away at the last minute, popping it smugly into your own mouth. I probably find this deviousness more hilarious than I should.



So I’ve managed to keep you in your highchair for meals, but it’s a lost cause to keep you from concocting exotic stews with your food. First you eat, then you ask for a cup of water or soup or milk, and inevitably the liquid ends up in your bowl. Next you start pouring the transmogrified contents back and forth between bowl and cup. The best part is, you still mostly finish everything on your tray. Umm, ew? But who am I to dampen your culinary enthusiasm?

You fall asleep fairly readily for naps, but tend to wake up cranky. You fight fight fight sleep at bedtime, but wake up in the mornings cheerful and chipper as can be.

This is what Ashelyn thinks of the sand at the beach:


Note the smirk. She isn’t afraid, and we aren’t torturing her for fun. (That is what she does to me on the regular.) No, Ashelyn is just finicky about strange things, like sand on her bare feet or having her legs covered by a blanket.

Interestingly, her oldest cousin – now five – had the exact same aversion to sand as a tot. Guess this particular quirk can’t be pinned on me!