Friday, September 14, 2012

Where Do They Get This Stuff

In a little over a week, my precious, baby daughter is going to turn 2-years old. A year ago, as she turned 1, I remember commenting that she wasn't a baby as much as she was turning into a little girl. Now that she's turning 2, I realize that there's no baby left. The transformation is complete.

At this moment, she's sitting on the floor playing by herself. She drags her Pooh bear around and says, "Come on, Pooh." She walks up to me and asks for water in her favorite cup. (Not in the babyish way of crying and saying, "Wah-wah," but actually saying, "Water, please.") She builds towers with her blocks. Right now she's putting her number flash cards back in the box after having read though them all and told me what each says. (She just brought the box to me and said, "Mama, box self, Yaya," which translates roughly to, "Mama, I put them back in the box myself!")

But it's not the large vocabulary or the physical developments that are the most striking proof that she's a kid now—it's the realization that she is not completely under my thumb as she's been for the last 24 months. 

About a week ago, she started calling me Mother—"No, Mother," "Yes, Mother," "More, please, Mother." Nobody knows where she even learned the word. Neither of her grandmothers (who are her only babysitter) ever use the word. None of the cartoons she watches even have children in them, but we're assuming that there's a story line or episode that we're just not thinking of. 

Even more mysterious is where she learned the birthday song. She recently started singing "Happy Birthday" at home. As far as we can tell, she's only heard the song twice in her life at the two birthdays she's ever attended. Once again, we've quizzed anyone she's spent any time with, right down to her Sunday School teachers, and none of them claim to have ever sung the song around her. It's baffling.

I am puzzled by these new bits of knowledge she's come home with, but obviously not upset. It could have been much worse—she's not saying cuss words or singing Katy Perry songs—but it definitely makes me feel out of control of her life. And I guess this is the beginning the process of losing control. From now until I drop her off in her dorm room, I'm going to hear her say things I didn't teach her, talk about friends I don't know, and about places I've never been. *sigh* 

But for right now, I've got her sitting at my side, leaning on my arm, and playing with my phone and I am not taking it for granted.

Pony Tail Tears

This morning, I combed my little girl's hair into a pony tail while getting her dressed. I've never done this before. For one thing, Lydia has always hated having things in her hair. Even when she was an infant, we couldn't get her to wear those adorable, stretchy headbands. But the other day, when I picked her up from Nana's house, she was wearing a ponytail! It was so cute! So this morning, while getting her ready, I tried my hand at putting her hair up. 

And I broke down in tears.

For a couple reasons.

First, this small, maternal responsibility brought to the surface a bundle of insecurities and inadequate feelings. During my elementary and middle school years, when girls are most likely to sit around "doing" each other's hair, I had no friends to practice on. This morning may have been the first time I've put a ponytail into another person's hair. I felt so inept.

Second, the ponytail was further evidence that my daughter is a little girl and not a baby anymore. I've known this for a while, but somehow it was just so real when she looked at me with her mess of curls smoothed back into the rubber band and actually looking half-way decent. 

I guess there are a couple lessons I can learn from this (maybe that's a stretch), but I did discover that if I'm willing to do things as a mom that I feel unqualified for, the results can end up better than I even hoped. Her ponytailed hair looked much better than her mop-top does on any given day and when I walked her out of the house, I actually felt pride as a mom. Yeah, she's growing up, but look what I can do! I can get a child dressed and out of the house who doesn't look like she spent the night on her own in an alley! Yay, me!