The twenty-fourth month

E’s two-year post is below this one, and will soon be password-protected. E-mail me if you missed it and would like access to see his pictures.

Dearest E.,

I’m a bit late with this letter, but I wanted to make sure that I wrote it to capture all the excitement of your final month before you turned two! You had your official two-year appointment early this month because you were going to be overseas by the time of your birthday. You were 35″ tall (75th percentile) and 25.5 lb (25th percentile). This was the first time you were measured standing up, which accounts for the fact that your official measurements show you haven’t grown since 18 months (and indeed, might have even gone backwards by half an inch). You’re still a long and lean toddler, and I think you had a growth spurt after the appointment, so you might still be closer to the 90th percentile in height which is where you’ve normally been. This was the month where you had your first haircut! It was really only a trim to tidy up around your ears and to deal with the cowlick and would-be mullet at the back, but I had no intention of trying to do it myself. Given we were about to go away and you had a birthday party coming up, we figured it was a good time. I got my hair cut at the same time, and you were very interested in sitting up in the chair next to me. You took it all in your stride and didn’t mind the scissors or being sprayed with the water bottle. “We have eight year olds who can’t behave that well!” said the hairdresser to me when you were finished. Because we didn’t touch the front at all the haircut didn’t make a huge difference to how you looked, but your Daddy and I are both convinced that your hair is already growing in thicker as a result.

The biggest change this month was in your speech. You already had a large vocabulary, but this was the month where you really started to make full sentences with verbs and even some pronouns. By the end of the month you were coming out with some great sentences: “Grandpa play with big train and Ee-mi play with little train”; “Daddy come outside now too”; “Two people are on couch having seep [sleep]”. When you refer to yourself your name now has two syllables. You can count to fourteen, although you need me to repeat each  number after you say it to act as a prompt for the next one. You can sing “Itsy-bitsy spider” and “Head and Shoulders”, as well as do the actions.  And I am finally, finally “Mummy”, rather than “Mama” or just “Ma!”.

This month had one big difference in it from all of the others: about halfway through I got on a plane to fly to the UK where we’ll be spending the rest of the spring and the summer, and you stayed at home with your Daddy. I’m not going to lie- I think this separation was much harder on me than it was on you! I was absolutely dreading it, and the night I put you to bed after your birthday party and had to kiss you for the last time and walk out of your room was one of my worst nights as a parent. I cried a lot. Your Daddy told me that when you woke up you wanted to see me, like you usually do if Daddy is the one to go into your room first, but he was able to distract you by saying that Grannie was waiting downstairs to play with you. And that was it- you were fine! You had your Grannie and your Grandpa with you for the first couple of days, then two days just with Daddy, and then your other Grandpa arrived and he stayed with you and Daddy until it was time for you to go to the airport.

You and Grandpa had a blast! You’ve always, always loved him and thought he was great fun, and he thinks you are quite possibly the best thing on the planet, so I expected it would work out well. We spent a fair amount of time skyping in my evenings (your late afternoons after your nap), and I could see how much fun you and Grandpa were having and how silly you were being. Your Grandpa would tell me all the things you had been up to that day, and what you’d eaten, and how well you’d napped. You’d hang out for around five or ten minutes before you would start asking to say “Bye-bye, Mummy” so you and Grandpa could go play some more or go back to the park! You were given some more train pieces for your set (tracks and cars) at your birthday party, and you and Grandpa played with those every single day. Grandpa is quite a fan of trains, so he was very impressed with your new additions. I was so glad your Grandpa was able to come and stay. It meant your Daddy could get all the work done that he needed to do for the end of the academic year. Plus I think it was very special for you to have that chance to spend all that time with your Grandpa.

I missed you very very much, however, and I was so excited on the day you were going to arrive that I woke up twenty minutes before my alarm (and my alarm was set for 4 a.m.!). It seemed to take forever before you and your Daddy appeared at the airport, partly because I’d taken a very early bus in case something went wrong, and partly because your plane was delayed. I cried as soon as I saw you in the airport, and when your Daddy gave you to me, you just went limp and curled up on my shoulder like you never wanted to let me go.

You had a slightly rough introduction to our life in the UK. Not only was your plane delayed, but our bus took an hour longer than expected from the airport because an accident had closed the motorway and we had a new driver who kept loudly announcing to everyone, “This is my first time driving this route. I normally go to Gatwick. I don’t know these roads at all.” To make matters worse, about halfway through the bus ride you got motion sick. We think it was because you were happily engaged in drawing with your markers at the time, or that’s what your Daddy suspects given he used to get motion sick when he was a little guy. We managed to keep the bus clean and get you tidied up and into some spare clothes. You were so tired by that point (you hadn’t slept very well on the plane) that you passed out in my lap. But then we only had another fifteen minutes to go before it was time to get off the bus. Once we managed to get you home you had a nice time exploring the flat, right up until dinner when you tried to get down from the chair by yourself and face-planted right onto the floor because you were so clumsy from being over-tired and jet-lagged. You cut your lips and gums and were bleeding profusely. Your Daddy and I both felt terrible, especially the next day when you had a huge fat lip, but you were fine and before too long you were back to your normal cheerful self. That first night you went to sleep at 7:30 and woke up at 10 thinking you’d had a lovely nap, and it was well past 2 a.m. before we got you asleep again. But that was the worst of the jet lag and things have been getting progressively better.

You’ve adjusted fairly well to being over in the UK. We still haven’t quite managed to get you back on to your old routine – you’re sleeping later in the mornings and going to bed later at night – but that works for us, since there’s no rush to get out the door at any particular point and it’s probably unrealistic to expect you to go to bed any earlier given how long the days are here. There’s a blind for your room, but it doesn’t keep all the light out. We have had some problems at bedtime. It’s not surprising you’re experiencing some separation anxiety, given all the changes you’ve been through in such a short time. We’ve managed to avoid having to start sitting in your room while you fall asleep (we did that for two nights before deciding it was a habit we just weren’t willing to allow), and we’re able to just stick our heads in to say hello a few times, and tell you that we’re just in the next room if you call out. We’re leaving your door part-way open, and you have your new Schleich crocodile who sits on your chair to “keep Ee-mi comp-ny!” while you’re falling asleep. It is taking you a LONG time to fall asleep, which I think means you probably need a shorter nap, but your Daddy really needs that nap time to get some work done. Right now his strategy is to keep you super busy running around in the morning to make sure you’re ready for a nap. We also wake you up by 8 a.m., although the last few days you’ve been waking on your own around 7:30. I’m really hoping you can avoid making any major sleep changes while we’re in the UK, but we’ll roll with whatever you throw at us. Just please don’t drop your nap yet!

The day I left to fly to the UK we had your birthday party. Although this made organizing everything a bit hectic (this is a huge understatement), it worked out well on the day because it gave me something to focus on rather than just worrying about the flight and leaving you. Most of your toddler friends were able to come and lots of your relatives as well. You had a great time! We set up all of your toys, including your sand/water table filled with lentils that had been in the basement- it was a huge hit with the entire toddler set. We had your party in the morning (complete with the same chocolate and orange cupcakes I made last year given they were so tasty), and then after your nap you opened your presents. I think it’s safe to say that your absolute favourite present was the Bruder recycling truck from one of your little friends. You spent the entire rest of the day putting everything you could in there (including Berenice Bunny).

Your actual birthday was much quieter since it was just us three. I blew up some balloons, and put out your presents on the coffee table the night before. This turned out to be quite the miscalculation because as soon as you saw them you wanted to open them- you wouldn’t even take your sleepsack off first- and this meant your poor Daddy missed you opening them because he was in the kitchen making pancakes. I was really happy that you loved at first sight the wooden double-decker bus I’d found- I’d been sure it was the perfect present (and the perfect souvenir of our time in the UK) since I’d first seen it online a few months ago. After a pancake and sausage breakfast I went off to work. You and Daddy had a fun day, and then we all had a birthday dinner of schnitzel, which is still your favourite food, and brownies and ice cream for dessert.

Being apart meant that you bonded more with your Daddy. You’ve been pretty much in a consistent Mummy phase since you were old enough to express a preference, and I know it’s been hard on your Daddy to have you burst into tears if I leave the house, or to have you order him back out of the house whenever he came in after doing the shopping or when coming home from work. It’s definitely been easier on him to have things more balanced and to have you simply say “Bye-bye, Mummy! Go work library! Bike bike! Need heh-met!” when I get ready to go in the morning. But it was hard for me the first night you were here in the UK when you didn’t want me to sing you your lullabies but asked for Daddy to put you to bed instead. You seem to have evened everything out now and are very happy to just be with whichever parent is around.You were in the UK for less than a week when your birthday came around, but I think it was already clear you’re going to have a good time. You absolutely love the huge park with all the playground equipment, and you love riding around on your Daddy’s bike in your special seat (and you are very good to tell us that we all need our helmets if we’re riding our bikes). The patio and back garden of our flat is proving to be as popular as I had hoped, although the spring has been colder than expected. You like helping to feed the birds and visiting the farm in the next village. The next few months are going to be a big adventure, and your Daddy and I are so excited to share them with you.

Love you, my darling son, today and always,

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Filed under E.- the second year, Letters to E.

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