How to Know When Your Monster Has Outgrown Her Cage

My miniature human has officially outgrown her cage.

 

She has learned how to raise herself onto her changing table from her crib. Once she has gotten up there however, she isn’t sure what to do, so she just yells, “Mama! Dada!” until one of us goes in to help her.

Considering that she has been rather difficult to put to bed lately, I was rather apprehensive about converting her crib into a toddler bed, but considering that we can’t have her sleeping on top of her changing table (or worse, diving off of it,) we decided to take the plunge and hope for the best.

As soon as I took the bars off of the front of her crib, she squealed in delight. She immediately climbed onto the mattress, and insisted on helping me attach the toddler frame. She picked the new sheets, the new quilt, and helped me make the bed. She loved it so much, she didn’t even want to get up to eat, and that child loves food.

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I was still worried about how she would handle bedtime, but she was a little angel. She stayed in her bed and went to sleep with minimal difficulties.

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It seems she just needed the freedom to arrange her bed in her own way, and the choice to climb into and out of it.

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Of course, that’s easy to say now. We’ll have to see what happens in the morning.

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The Party

My toddler went to a party while I was cleaning today, like she does almost every morning. It was a grand ball in her princess castle, with music and dancing. And dinosaurs, of course.

The difference this morning was that she wanted to put her party hat on, but I was in the middle of getting her diapers ready to be washed. She decided I was taking too long and slung the party hat headband around her neck instead, and she darted off to the festivities. A little while later, she ran back into sight, grinning at me with her signature Guess-what-I’m-doing smile. Unfortunately, she makes this mischievous face at the most inopportune times, and I have yet to capture it on camera, but rest assured, it means she knows she is doing something that she should not be. This time she had a giant pencil in her hand.

I quickly followed her as she sprinted around the corner to her bedroom. I was met with the sight of my little girl, pencil to the wall, drawing this masterpiece:

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Now, she knew I was going to stop her, which is why she had been wearing that daring grin. I told her to give me the pencil please, and took it away. She was crestfallen and went and hid her face in some blankets. I went over to her, and said, “Lili, come here with me real quick.”

She looked at the wall with me, concerned.

“That’s so beautiful!” I told her, smiling. She looked at me and beamed. Then she went over and started telling me all about her drawing.

“It’s very nice. I love when you draw me pictures,” I said, “But, we don’t draw on the walls.”

I let that sink in for half a second.

“But you can draw on paper,” Smile. “Did you want me to find you something to draw on?”

I held out the pencil to her.

“Yesh!” She said.

So we found this box.

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The Doll

Once upon a time, there was a little girl. One day, she was exploring a closet at her grandmother’s house when she discovered a little doll with no hair and no nose. What it did  have was a little dress with an apron, round eyes and a cute little smile made of light pink stitches. The little girl immediately loved this doll, but thought that it must belong to someone else because it looked so perfect.

She left the doll where it was and hurried downstairs. She didn’t want anyone to think she had been snooping, so she was a little nervous, but she loved the doll so much that she felt compelled to ask about it.

“Grandma,” she said tentatively, “Whose doll is that upstairs?”

Her grandmother looked confused. “What doll do you mean, sweetheart?”

“The doll in the closet.” Her grandmother still was unsure, so the little girl took her upstairs to show her.

“Oh that doll!” the grandmother chuckled when she saw it. “I’d forgotten about that! I made that doll a while ago, but never finished it.”

The little girl was surprised. How could anyone just forget about such a lovely little doll? And how could her grandmother have made it? And why? Was it for some other little girl, she wondered.

“Who is it for?”

“Nobody,” her grandmother said, then paused, studying the child. “Did you want it?”

Oh, yes. The little girl very much did want the doll. She could hardly believe that it was being offered to her.

“Really?” She asked. She already knew exactly what the doll should look like, from the red clown nose to the thick, straight brown hair that had to be sewn on.

“Sure,” her grandmother said. “But we’ll have to add some hair.”

The little girl’s mommy helped give the doll a makeover too. Together, they made the doll exactly the way that the little girl wanted it. While her mother sewed the strands of hair to the doll’s head, she teased the little girl.

“What will you name me?” she teased in the doll’s voice. “Please don’t call me Baldy!”

The little girl giggled. She already knew the doll’s name. She would name her Molly, after the doll on television that had inspired this doll’s nose and hair.

Years passed, but Molly always appeared on that little girl’s bed. The little girl grew into a big girl, then into a young woman. She moved away and got married. When her husband saw the doll, he surprised her.

“It’s Molly,” he said, smiling.

Eventually the day came that the young woman needed to ready a nursery for the baby girl that was on her way. At first she put Molly in the baby’s doll bag at the foot of the bed, but the baby received so many stuffed animals that there was no longer any space in the bag. The young woman thought to herself, “She’ll probably like her own dolls more.” She sighed and put Molly away.

Twice upon a time, there was a little girl. One day, she was exploring her mother’s closet. She found a lovely little doll that she simply adored.

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A Yucky Grandson

My husband, daughter, and I went out to eat the other day, and fortunately Liliana was having a wonderful day. She was all smiles, charming the people around us along with the staff.

Our waitress came up, introduced herself, and asked if she could get us anything. Then she did something that caught me off guard.

“You’re such a little cutie,” she cooed at the baby. Then she turned to Matthew and I, “You’re so lucky. I always wanted a cute little girl, but I just have two sons and a yucky grandson.”

‘Yucky?!’ I thought to myself. ‘Did she just use the word, ‘yucky’ to describe her grandchild simply because he’s a boy?!’

She couldn’t see my face, but I don’t know if she noticed my body stiffen in my seat at that description. She hurried off to take care of other customers, but her comment stuck around, clouding my thoughts.

What an awful thing to say! I’m sure she would have been horrified if someone had referred to their granddaughter that way. In some countries, male babies are valued far above female babies, and Americans find that disgusting, so why in the world did it seem okay to her to refers to her male descendants that way?

And while we’re on this topic, why is it okay for me or my daughter to dress in masculine clothes, but men and boys would be immediately ridiculed if they decided to wear dresses. If it makes someone comfortable to wear the same kinds of clothes that make me feel comfortable, it’s really none of my business. I’m sure previous generations were equally appalled at the idea of a woman in pants.

I guess what I’m saying is, let’s not get so wrapped up in protecting women from sexism that we don’t recognize inequality when it is applied to men. My gender does not define me.

My Surprise Visitor

For our anniversary, my husband and I went camping. Normally, we would do this for my birthday, but since we have Liliana now, we were worried September might be a little too cold. On Monday night, Matthew set up a fantastic fire in the fire pit, but he got tired before I did and went to go lie down. While I was alone in the dark, I heard something off to my right.

Flip! Flop!

There was something on the pebbles surrounding the fire pit. I couldn’t see it yet, but it was getting closer. As the fire dimmed, whatever it was became more courageous. Every few minutes, I heard it again:

Flip! Flop!

Just when I began to believe I was imagining it because I still couldn’t see whatever it was, I looked down and saw a face!

There was a toad the size of my palm sitting next to the stones that surrounded the pit, and he was staring right at me! I jumped a little, but he didn’t seem to mind. He crawled onto one of those big stones, nibbled a branch that was protruding from the pit, then sat back and relaxed.

He (or she?) was actually pretty nice company. He just hung out for about fifteen minutes, doing the same thing I was doing – enjoying the calm, the warmth, the peace. And he taught me something.

We were more similar than I would have thought. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that even though everyone seems so different, we are all so alike. After all, we all have needs, wants, hopes, dreams. We all have thoughts, feelings, plans, emotions.

The same concept applies to adults and children. As an adult, I sometimes have to remind myself of exactly what it feels like to be a child. I never thought of myself as being little, but these miniature humans seem so small to grown-up eyes that it is easy to dismiss their thoughts and feelings as cute things that kids do. At the same time, as a child, I remember thinking that adults tended to be entirely wrapped up in the wrong sorts of things. We are more similar than we tend to think.

After all, we even share about half of our DNA with bananas.

The Power of Memories

I like to think I have a decent memory, regardless of how much evidence exists to the contrary. Since Liliana arrived, however, I’ve realized that I had forgotten many of the fun things I had learned when I was young.

Sure, I’d remembered Weeble Wobbles and cardboard boxes. I’d remembered various toys my brother (along with other small children) had broken. I’d remembered how I loved the water wings that the kid from the other apartment had let me borrow so I could go swimming in the pool of the apartment complex, although when I think back now, I realize his parents were probably the ones that let us borrow them.

I had forgotten some things though too. About a month ago, I was giving Liliana a bath and remembered a washcloth trick that my mother had taught me. I had worked so hard when I was little to learn how to do it, but I hadn’t tried it in many years.

Luckily, I could still manage it, even with Liliana’s itty bitty washcloths. Here’s what you do:

1. Wet the cloth.

2. Make a fist.

3. Lay the cloth over the fist and slowly lower your hand underwater, making sure the edges touch the water first.

4. Using your other hand to make sure the edges of the washcloth remain lower than the rest of it, gather the edges together while removing your fist. The result should be a balloon of air.

5. Don’t let go of the edges, but move the cloth bubble underwater. It should hold the air as long as it remains under the water and doesn’t bump anything.

6. Squeeze it and watch thousands of little bubbles rocket through the cloth to the surface!

 

I felt so cool when I showed Liliana this trick, and she thought it was neat. Unfortunately for my ego, the rubber duck won the contest for her attention because she could eat it.

A similar thing happened today when I remembered the wonders of those doorstops that are built into the wall. I showed her how it made a fun sound if you stretched the spring and let go. I used to play with that thing for what seemed like hours: Boing! Boing! Boing! 

She didn’t seem quite as interested at first, so I thought she might still be too young to really appreciate it.

I just found out I was wrong.

What have I done?