Almost Two

Laurel’s babysitter recently said something like, “I think she’s going to turn out to be one of those good-natured but feisty ones.” I definitely saw a glimpse of that tonight at dinner. Devin was telling Laurel she had to hold her cup upright if she wanted to keep drinking milk from it. She kept tilting it and spilling milk out. This time, she made a display of showing she could hold it upright. And then, as though to see what would happen, she quickly tilted it over — and then back up again — her eyes locked on Devin’s the whole time. You could almost hear her saying, “Oh yeah? Watch me.

Laurel is almost two, and it’s becoming more obvious with every passing day. So far, though, her tantrums play out like she read about them in a book somewhere, and one that didn’t include good diagrams. For a while, she would throw herself onto the floor, then calmly look up as if to say, “Now what?” More recently, she’s thrown in a little bit of bonking her head on the floor. Yesterday, she managed to flop down and kick her feet a few times. That’s not to say she doesn’t have tantrums. More often, she has them upright, jumping and stomping and swinging her arms angrily back and forth, all while screaming and crying. Unfortunately, it’s kind of adorable. Hard on her, of course, but adorable.

She is really hungry for knowledge and music these days. Last May, when her vocabulary was first ramping up, she would point at all sorts of things and ask, “This?” As in, “What’s this called?” We’re in another phase of that now, though this time she’s asking, “That is?” or, once in a while, “What that?” Sometimes it’s because she doesn’t know the name of the thing she’s pointing at; other times she’s making sure that we still call it by the same name. She still speaks in a lot of one- or two-word phrases, but three or more words in a row is becoming more and more common. Her pronunciation is getting better on many words (“slippers” actually sounds like “slippers” now, instead of “ploo-ploo”), though longer and newer words are often somewhat indecipherable, particularly to people who don’t spend their days talking to her. “Chocolate” is more like “cha-lok-it” and “trampoline” is something akin to “slam-pling.” She recently started saying something that sounds like “walrus,” and even we have no idea what she means.

Our days are met with frequent requests for music. Her favorites right now include “The Pirate Song,” “Slippery Fish,” the alphabet song (which she has also started trying to sing), “Happy Birthday,” and a smattering of other songs and rhymes we’ve learned in various classes. “Old MacDonald” is another favorite, though she calls it the “Yayoyayo” (EIEIO) song. In fact, she likes this one so much I have to invent all kinds of animals that could conceivably be found on a farm (geese are her favorite) because she keeps asking for more verses. It’s a bit like last fall, when she got so stuck on “The Wheels on the Bus” that not only was I inventing verses, but she was.

Speaking of hungry, after being a pretty sparing eater since her introduction to solids, Laurel has finally begun eating most of her meals (and many, many snacks) in earnest. She has resisted some dinners lately, though, resulting in a very hungry and impossible-to-settle toddler in the middle of the night. (Nobody got much sleep this week because of that.) Fortunately, her palate is still pretty broad. She’s pickier now, but there are lots of things she will eat willingly, so we’re not worried about her nutrition.

At the same time, she’s more active than ever. She doesn’t walk much, especially when we’re out at the playground or another place she has free reign. She runs, at the fastest speed she can muster, in her clunky and oddly balanced toddler run, from one activity to another. Last weekend she ran all the way home from a park several blocks away (and down a rather steep hill). She has recently become more cautious on slides — slides she would bravely sail down a month ago, she won’t touch now unless she’s holding our hands or sitting on one of our laps and sliding with us.

She wants to do more and more things herself, and spends a lot of time testing (and being miserable about) the rules and boundaries we set for her. We’re steeling ourselves for the months (years?) of this yet to come, and trying to manage with our senses of humor. Fortunately, she’s also a tremendously fun and happy kid with her own sense of humor, and so far the good moods outnumber the bad ones.

We’ve also begun exploring local preschools, an intimidating process because there are so many (roughly 150 or so in San Francisco; at least 10 in our immediate neighborhood, ranging from low-key household arrangements to formal and even regimented Montessori programs), and because getting into them is very competitive. Laurel’s not even eligible for many of them until the fall of 2012, but since we have so much work to do and so many schools to see, we’re starting early. I know that makes us Those Parents who tour umpteen schools way before they’re supposed to. Hey, at least we didn’t start before she was born.

— Beth