Dear Little Elephant,
Usually I start writing these letters to you about a week before I post them. Right when I was supposed to start writing, your Uncle showed up. You were, needless to say, beside yourself with joy that another person had moved in to fawn over your amazing brilliance. Then, I had big time-sucking reports due for work that severely cut into my letter writing time— luckily, I was able to work from home at nights so they didn’t actually cut into my cuddling with my wonderful daughter time.
Then, the night before you turned 18 months, when I was going to write you this love letter, I saw the news. A horrible, tragic thing happened a long way from where we live. But this awful event in the news, the killing of 20 small children and 6 other adults, most of whom cared for these kids, has left me paralyzed. I was unable to write you your letter. I cried for these little ones I didn’t know. I cried for their families. And I cried because one day you are going to see that the world is not always a wonderful place. I already tell you this when you fling yourself about. I remind you that the world is not soft, like you think it is. You think this, because so far, Dada and I have been able to protect you from bad falls. You think this because your heart is pure. You think this because we can hide the ugly from you. You think this because I cover you in kisses and love everyday. My heart breaks that someday, you will get hurt, both physically and emotionally. I hate that I can’t protect you forever. I hate that I can’t fix the world in time for you. And, I hate that someday, I will have to try and find words to explain when horrible things happen.
I spent an extra special amount if time with you this last week, I have been lenient, I have cherished every laugh, kiss, and hug. But, I have been having a difficult time finding my voice to write, to blog, to email. But, this month, in particular, I don’t want to go by without a letter. Last weekend was a big day, you because 1.5 years old. 18 whole months. 9 months in my belly and twice as much outside of it. A toddler.
Little Elephant, you never cease to amaze me. You are getting so smart. The other day we were in the car and you wanted to get out of your carseat. I explained that you could get out when we got home because you needed to stay buckled in and safe when in the car. You thought about this and then started singing “Harley, Harley”. Because, yes, your dog, Harley, is at home. Whenever we are away and talk about home now, you call out “Harley, Harley”
We are starting to be able to reason with you. Even with your limited vocabulary, you understand a ton. For example, at meal time, often you only want to eat tangerines. In fact, we have had to start hiding the tangerines in the living room so that they are at least out of sight (and hopefully somewhat out of mind). Still, you take two bites of your food and then point for your tangerines. Now, when we explain that you must eat all of this before you can have that, you think about it and comply. Sometimes, you push the food around your tray to trick us. When I say, “No Little Elephant, you must actually eat the food and not just push it around”, you smile at me and you eat your food. Sometimes you call Harley to try and throw the food to her. When we clarify that if Harley eats your food, you will not get a tangerine, you decide not to throw her the scraps. Good for you!
In general this month, your sleeping habits have regressed. This is leading to very tired parents! It is also leading to you being a bit more fussy and sometimes even asking to go to bed. When you are tired, you grab my hand and point up stairs. You point the way all the way to the rocking chair where you nurse. I love cuddling up with you as you drink and slow down before sleep.
You are starting to differentiate between Spanish, English, and Albanian. The other night, Dada was very tired. Instead of reading the book in English, he started translating it into Spanish. You stared at him quizzically as this was clearly and English book— not a Spanish one! (Note, we read to you in both English and Spanish and you love both).
My independent smart little girl, I love you more and more each day. Having a child truly is like taking your heart from your chest and watching it walk around and grow up.