(Yes, I still say 18 months- and will continue to- for a little bit longer. But I do temper this response, depending on the audience. If I say anything other than 'a year' or 'almost a year and a half' to my friends without kids, it's invariably met with an eye roll. However, if I omit the exact month when replying to a parent, the question will be asked again, more specifically. Because without the child's exact age, comparisons with their offspring's eating, sleeping, walking and talking habits cannot be compared. This is just a fact of life, people. At least 'til she's two. Then she's TWO.)
Back to N.J.
I can't believe her age. This is something I say way too often, being as I'm with her Every. Single. Day. and know darned well how old she is. But I can't believe it. She was a wee, floppy little infant one second- and a kid the next. Kidesque, anyhow. A kidlet.
In my mind she's this big:
Okay, technically, she's not that much bigger nowadays...but personality-wise, it's the difference between getting nudged by a Tonka and flattened by a Mack. And those differences KILL me and take me out of the moment and make me jump decades into the future and cause me to cry.
(This is why I should never be left to my own devices. Ever. Always equip me with a crossword or book of minute mysteries or something before you leave.)
For instance, Nora doesn't care for meat. At all. In the past, she's been known to fling food with the crossest of looks- as if to say, You are contaminating my plate/tray/line of sight. These days, if I catch her the moment before the mass evacuation occurs, I can usually suggest that she at least try a bite. And you know what? Ninety percent of the time she will. Yes, we'll get an eye roll and an exaggerated swallow (and then a sleight of hand maneuver rendering the offending morsel invisible) but it's a start. Other times P.J. and I will be caught up in dinner conversation and then happen to look over at our kid, glancing around, eating her food, occasionally nodding. It's like she's 20. (A really messy 20, but hey- some of the instances I witnessed firsthand in college...) And sometimes- just sometimes- she seems so adult and content that I almost wish she'd require spoon-feeding and a burp because she's got a mortgage and kids and lives halfway around the world...
I never said it was rational.
The other day, while playing in her room with P.J., she pointed to a toy bag attached to the ceiling.
"I want a puppy."
P.J. goggled at her. "What did you say?!"
Nora, patiently, repeated herself. "I want a puppy."
"I see a puppy."
P.J. reached up to the top and handed her a small, stuffed puppy. Nora patted it, thanked her Dad, and said, quite patiently:
"A puppy." (Like, you morons.)
Some of her words are clear as anything. Others (my favorites) are longer and more mangled; strawbeddie, bluebeddie, blackbeddie (we love the beddies), yibbydee (ladybug), (wasplash) water table, and, my personal favorite- NoNoMommyGibadeeNoNo (an indeterminate berating of her toys and books whenever I tell her no).
I really shouldn't be surprised that my child makes up her own words, right?
Nora still dances with her Dad every night after he gets home from work. She likes our mix CDs best and, I kid you not, she does the robot. (I realize I need to get video proof of this.) And it is incredible. She waits for the right song- and it MUST be the right song- to jump into the middle of the living room floor as if clearing it for a dance-off. She holds her body completely rigid. Her little head goes side to side. She brings some shoulder action into it. Then the arms. Then the ankles. The feet come next. That transitions not seamlessly at all into something akin to Kriss Kross' Jump! Jump! P.J. manages to dance with her, but me? I'm on the floor attempting to not pee myself.
Snuggles are a rare currency these days. My attempts to pin her down and cover her with kisses are often met with a shove to the neck and a pained "Mommy."
But every so often, maybe when she's really tired or feeling a little overwhelmed, she'll curl up in my lap with the ever-stinky Doc Bullfrog. Thumb in her mouth, eyes droopy, she'll pat me on the cheek and just chill.
And it'll all I can do to not ruin the moment by chomping on those still ever-so-slightly chubby cheeks and squeezing that protruding little belly. So I content myself with smoothing her [Dad's] crazy hair from her forehead and smelling that sweet scent of her baby skin. Also, peanut butter. Maybe a little goldfish cracker.
Most parents think their kid is the absolute bee's knees. They believe this to be one hundred percent true- but I'm not sure how it's possible. After all, my child eats peas as a reward and tells Scrooge McDuck that he is sad and does the robot.
This is my favorite age, ever.
So let's stick here awhile, shall we?