Growth and development


Even though it’s 100 degrees outside and only the beginning of August, I can’t help but feel that summer is winding down.  I’ve already started shopping for school supplies and even saw a Halloween display in a store this morning.  I’m okay with this.  Great, in fact!  Fall is my favorite time of year.  I’m looking forward to cool days at the park and apple cider and not burning the soles of my feet on the deck when I take Ollie out for a pee.  Really, that just happened.

Addie is getting ready to finish up her summer dance and gymnastics programs.  When I took her to her first class, I remember thinking, “Oh, perfect timing, her last class is right when I’m due to have the baby.” On the one hand I can’t wait to have this baby and meet our little girl, but at the same time I can’t help but wonder where the summer went.  What happened to all of those weeks that I was supposed to be productive preparing for #2?  July was a crazy month around our house and I’m giving myself a pass for not having everything in order for baby.

And what happened to my shy little girl, who on the first day of class looked at me through the glass with tears in her eyes?  Now, she runs into the studio like she owns the place and can’t wait to catch the first glimpse of her teachers while we’re waiting for class.  They’re like celebrities to Addie.  It’s hard to believe that just a few weeks ago she was hiding her face in my leg.  This makes me hopeful for when she starts Mom’s Day Out next month.

It’s summer, it’s hot and I’m past the point in my pregnancy where I can even pretend that being outside doing anything is fun.  I can’t even fake it.  So I don’t try.  I don’t apologize for it either.  Even Addie thinks it’s too hot outside.  On the mornings – early mornings – that we do go outside to play she’ll tell me she’s hot and wants to go in.  She doesn’t have to tell me twice.  That is for sure. 

So, instead of sitting in the house with the blinds drawn all summer, I’ve made it my mission to find lots of fun indoor activities for us to do.  And, truth be told, Addie doesn’t even seem to miss the outdoor playground.  She still gets to ride her bike and go to the pool with her Dad in the evenings and on weekends so she doesn’t much mind all the climate control during the weekdays.

This week Addie started gymnastics (Or manassicks if  you ask her) and dance lessons.    I was a little apprehensive about signing her up because there’s a pretty strict “no parents allowed” policy for her age group.  I thought this was a good time to start, though, because in August she’ll be going to Children’s Day Out two days a week. 

This was the first time Addie has done anything without me and though I prepared her for it ahead of time, it didn’t really register.  Not until she was walking into her first gymnastics class, looked up to tell me something and I wasn’t there.  She ran back to get me and I walked her into the room and then left.  She could see me through the giant wall of windows that separates the waiting room from the gym, but still she sat down on the mat, looking at the door with her bottom lip quivering.  I counted backwards, slowly, from ten, totally blanking out on the conversation I was having with another parent in the waiting area.  I couldn’t watch her like that any longer and just as I made my move to run into the gym and get her, the teacher distracted her with the first activity and that was it.  Poof.  It was over and she was all smiles for the rest of class.

She loves her classes and talks about them all the time.  We were talking over breakfast on Monday before her dance class when she said, “Addie goes to dance.  Mommy can’t help, you wait outside.”  So she gets it and I think she even likes having that little bit of time to herself.  I have to admit, it’s a bit of a blow to the ego.

At the end of dance class this week all of the Mom’s went in the room to take pictures of the dancers.  It was “Rockstars and Divas” day and the kids were all dressed up and looking cute.  I was the last Mom to walk in the room and as I was getting my camera out I looked over at Addison and she was pointing at me and crying.  I thought, ‘Oh, she wants her Mommy.  Maybe I shouldn’t have come in the room.’  So I asked her, “What’s wrong sweetie?”  and she pointed at the door and said, “Mommy, you go outside.”  I was booted from dance class.  My, how quickly the grow.

Here are a few cute videos from Addie’s first gymnastics class.

The other night while getting ready for bed Addie looked at me and said – in a very small voice – “mommy”.  She barely croaked out those two syllables.  It sounded almost like a question, like she was just trying it on for size.  She paused and said again, a little louder this time, “Mommy” and then she smiled and started a string of “Mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy…”

I was stunned.  And I have to admit, a little lump started forming in my throat (though I’m blaming the pregnancy hormones).  I’ve always been Mama.  Since Addie started calling me anything, it’s been Mama.  Once she hit two years old and still hadn’t changed my title I was thrilled. I can think of nothing better that I’d like to answer to for the rest of my life. I have this vision of me telling 15 year old Addison “No, you most certainly can not get into that sports car with those senior boys” and her rolling her eyes, stomping up the stairs and yelling, “You’re ruining my life MOM!”  before she slams her bedroom door.  And I cringe.  I don’t want to be that Mom.  Somehow that scenario plays out differently in my head if I’m Mama. 

We’re a pretty informal household.  Addie has nicknames for everyone.  Usually Mama is shortened to Ma.  Almost of her friends have nicknames.  Addie is not one to waste time on multiple syllables. Kennedy is “T”, Bella is Bell her cousin Bridget is Bid, our friend’s newborn baby Grace has already been dubbed Baby D.  Addie’s friends  Juliana and Anne-Marie are simply Ann.  Collectively; two people, one Ann.  I have started referring to them as “The Anns” for simplicity’s sake.  The exceptions to this rule of shortened monikers are Ollie, who she always calls by his full three syllable name, and her father who she refers to as “Addie’s Dada”.  When his car pulls in the driveway after work she runs screaming around the house, “Addie’s Dada home!  Addie’s Dada home!  Mama, it’s Addie’s Dada!”   Or if he, say, reads her a book, she is sure to clarify which Daddy was doing the reading, “Mama, Addie’s Dada read book.”

So, when Addie called me Mommy I didn’t acknowledge the sudden change.  I thought she’s forget about it and go back to Mama in no time.  When she woke up the following morning, instead of Mama or even Mommy, I was suddenly Meemaw. She tried that for half the day but was right back to that damn “Mommy” again.  When Scott came home from work tonight, he took her for a bike ride up to the park while I made dinner.  When she came home she ran in the house in yelling “Mommy, mommy, mommy!” and when she found me, she threw her arms around my neck for the type of hug you can only give out when you really mean it.  And I decided right then, squeezing my girl and smelling the fresh air in her hair, that I don’t so much care what she calls me as long as she always hugs me that tight.

We wanted to prepare Addison for Oliver’s departure.  It’s wouldn’t be fair for her to walk into the house after a play date to find her best friend has disappeared.  Addie is a smart kid.  She picks up on nuances and knows something is amiss in our lives.  She came up to me yesterday while we were playing blocks on the living room floor, put her hand on my shoulder and said, “Mama sad.”  I thought that was a good opener to talk to her about why Mama is sad and what is going on with Oliver.

Things my 2-year-old does not understand:

  • Death
  • Euthanasia
  • Cancer

Mercifully, she doesn’t understand all of those things.  I don’t want her to.  She doesn’t get that we don’t want to make this decision.  She also doesn’t understand that, if given the opportunity, we would move mountains to make it all better. 

What Addison can grasp is the concept of Oliver living somewhere else.  My goal in all of this is not to lie to my daughter, but to put things into terms that a two-year old can understand.  It’s not as easy as it sounds.  We sat down and told her that soon Oliver was not going to live with us anymore.  He was going to have to live with God in Heaven.  For once, in my life as a parent, I am glad I didn’t video tape this moment because the look on Addison’s face – the confusion, fear and disbelief that crossed over her – was one that I never want to see again.  Then she pointed to the door and said, “Oliver, car?”,  asking if he would be going for a ride somewhere.

Since God and Heaven are also concepts we haven’t yet covered in toddler teachings, we had to break it down even further.  We explained that Oliver is going to live in Heaven – up in the stars – where he will be happy and he’ll be able to chase his ball all day without getting tired.  The downside is that we won’t be able to see him anymore, but he will be up on a star looking down on us.  Anytime we miss him, we can go in the back yard and look up into the sky and wave to him on his star.  Addison was getting confused.  And a little upset.  I could tell she had questions but didn’t know how to articulate them.  I decided that was enough for the day.  Maybe I had gone too far.

Hours later as we were getting into our bedtime routine Addison pointed to the ceiling and said, “Mama, Oliver up high?  Star?”  And all I could do was tell her, “Yes baby, Oliver will be up in the stars.  But for now, lets love him while he’s here with us.” 

I always go back and forth about whether or not to blog about the potty.  Mainly because I can’t imagine who would want to read about that crap (ha!).  I feel like this deserves a blog post though because, are you ready?  Addie is potty trained!  My 2 year, 2 week, 6 day old is 100% potty trained.  Potty trained as in we leave the house without a diaper.  Potty trained as in I haven’t purchased a package of diapers in over a month!  Sorry Luvs.  Potty trained as in it’s been 13 days since her last accident.  I feel like we should have one of those signs in the bathroom like they have in factories and warehouses.

We introduced the potty early.  At Addie’s 15 month appointment her  doctor said we should start thinking about the potty soon.  I was glad to hear that because we already bought a potty and had it set up in the half bath.  I tend to be a bit overzealous when it comes to shopping for new gadgets.  Can a potty be considered a gadget?

Addie was all into it for a while and then nothing.  She didn’t want to do anything on the potty, not even sit on it.  She would throw herself on the floor whining at the mere mention of the potty.  And then came the M&M’s.  I bought a bag of M&M’s thinking I would give her one as a reward if it would get her bum on the potty again.  Well, it worked and not only was she sitting on it, she was using it as intended.  I couldn’t believe that actually worked.  I laughed to myself a bit that she fell for it.  I mean, she had been fighting me for weeks and then she suddenly gives in over a piece of chocolate? 

Now there are critics who will tell you not to use candy as a reward.  There are critics who will tell you not to do just about anything.  I say, find what works for you and do it!  Sticker chart?  Elmo undies?  Special song and potty dance?  Letting them flush the toilet?

A few days after introducing the M&Ms Addie started running into the bathroom to pee a teeny tiny bit and then she would run out asking for an M&M.  Then she would run back in the bathroom and pee a teeny tiny bit more and run out asking for yet another M&M.  She was working the system and in two days she had me trained to give her candy whenever she wanted.  That’s cool.  It beats changing diapers.

Like every parent I spend a lot of time worrying about my baby’s development.  Some might say too much time and too much worry, but it’s not something I can help.  I have fretted and cried and I have spent countless hours Googling symptoms and incorrectly diagnosing Addison with all types of disorders.  Let me tell you, if you really want to thrill your pediatrician, start your next conversation with, “So, I read online…”  Really.

Addison has always been more of a doer than a talker.  That’s a great character trait, yes, but it’s a little unnerving when you are waiting so very impatiently for your kid to stop pointing and screaming and to start pointing and speaking.  Addison has always been right on track in her physical development, but a little slower in speech and language development.  Once she hit 20 months old though, Addison’s vocabulary started exploding.  Up until that point she was limited to a fairly short list of words; Hi, Bye, Mama, Dada, More, Yes.  Everything else was pretty much a guessing game.

We were at Gymboree one afternoon and I asked a little girl if she was having fun.  She quickly replied, “No!” Her Mom chuckled and said, “Everything is ‘No’ these days.”  Other Moms chimed in saying their child also says no to every question.  I offered that Addie didn’t know the word “no” and she usually responded to everything with “Yeah” or “Yup”.  I had to say it out loud didn’t I?  Why did I have to be so damn smug?  Wouldn’t you know, the very next week Addison not only learned – nay embraced – the word “no”, she learned to say “mine” as well.

It took everything in my being to ignore her repeated declarations of “No! Mine!”  I wouldn’t give in and correct her or reprimand her because if there is one thing that Addison loves, it is to push my buttons.  If she knows something bothers me she gets such a kick out of repeating whatever it is over and over and over.  Whether it’s screaming “Mine! Mine! Mine!” or pulling my hair, throwing her food to the dog or pouring cups of water out of the bathtub, she looks to me for a reaction.  You can see it in her mischievous little grin.

I  stood my ground and ignored “mine” and thankfully,  it has fallen by the wayside, but I’m afraid the word “no” is here to stay.  She never says “no” once and it is never just a one syllable response.

Here’s our day:

Me: Addison, let’s change your diaper.
Addie: No, no, no

Me:  Addie, get your babies.  It’s time for a nap.
Addie:  Nohohohoho

Me: Addison, please eat your lunch.
Addie:  NnnnnooooOOooooOOooo  Ha-hot
Me:  Addie, it’s not hot.
Addie:  Yeah, ha-hot Mama

When “no” doesn’t work she starts making up excuses why she can’t eat her lunch.  Every time we sit down for a meal, it’s “ha-hot”. If it’s not Goldfish or raisins, Addison doesn’t want to eat it and will tell us that it’s hot.  She’ll eventually revert back to a screaming chorus of “No”.  No has become my least favorite word in the English language, quickly passing “panties” on it’s way to the top of my most hated list.  But at least I’m not worried about her being behind anymore.

Addison’s vocabulary is growing every day.  It took a long time, but her babbling has turned into real words.  Actual words in the English language.  I was just beginning to worry that she was behind but as soon as she turned twenty months old she started picking up new words every single day.  It has been a lot of fun to see what she picks up on.   Most recently she’s been holding up one finger and telling me she’ll ‘be right back’ before she runs into another room to grab a toy or snack.  It’s nice, being able to finally understand what Addison was previously trying to communicate through grunts and frustrated screams.  It has it’s downside too, because when Addie wants something she will make sure you hear her.  Over and over and over again.

Addie has always had a thing for shoes.  When she started crawling she would head to our shoes by the front door to  play with them, occasionally leaving a present for us inside.  When she began to walk she loved to put our shoes on and trip all over the house.  Most recently, she has learned to put her own shoes on.  It would be cute, this little trick, except that once Addie gets her shoes on her feet she thinks it’s time to go somewhere.  I’ve resorted to hiding her shoes because – out of sight out of mind, right?  I figured if Addison couldn’t see her shoes she wouldn’t put them on and hang on the front door whining.

My plan was working until this past week when Addison really mastered saying she word “Shoes”.  Now, instead of putting them on her feet she sits in her little red chair saying, “Shoes, shoes…” over and over again.  And because she thinks I am an imbecile, she says this while lifting her foot towards me and pointing at it to make sure I am catching her drift.  Shoes on the feet, not on the hands.  The problem with this is that we live in Texas where every day for the past 2 weeks (!) the temperature has reached 100 degrees.  I love that Addison wants to go outside and play but at 3:00 in the afternoon it is simply too hot to play out in our shadeless back yard.  It’s too hot to go for a walk to the neighborhood park which also has no trees.  And with UV advisories nearly every day, I don’t even like to take her to the pool.  This is the trade off for being able to eat dinner on the patio in December.

Yesterday, while I was fixing her lunch, I glanced into the living room and saw Addison wiping the coffee table with a baby wipe.  She loves to help me clean; she wipes down the tables and sweeps, she even does windows.  I said to her, “Addie thank you so much for helping Mommy by cleaning the table.”  She looked up at me, stuck her bottom lip out and howled “SSHHHHHOOOOEEEEESSSS” at the top of her lungs.  As if to say, “Lady, please don’t make me clean anymore I just want to go out and play like a normal kid.”  I handed her the mop.

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