Tough questions

For the past few months, Laurel has been asking a lot about people’s parents. She asks Devin and I repeatedly, “What’s your mommy’s name?” “What’s your papa’s name?” Or, “What’s your papa’s mommy’s name?” and so on. She’ll ask about our friends, too: She wants to know what her babysitter’s parents’ names are, for example, and she asked about a friend of mine who was visiting recently from Australia. She then surprised the friend by saying, “Your mommy’s name is Elizabeth!” and my friend turned to me and said, “How did she know that?”

Laurel has occasionally asked me about my mom. She says, “What’s your mommy’s name?” and I respond, “Maxine.” Once in a while, she will ask where my mommy is, and I’ve always told her, “I will tell you, but it’s a sad story.” Until last week, she has always deferred.

Then, she said she wanted to know.

“My mommy died, many years ago,” I told her.

“Why?” Laurel asked.

“Because her body stopped working. Her lungs, the parts of your body that helped you breathe, didn’t work anymore.”

Laurel took a breath in and out. “Well, my lungs work fine.”

End of discussion.

Now, Laurel knows what death is; our cat died last fall, and she saw the body and watched us bury her. She isn’t scared by the idea of death, but she does talk about it.

Last night, she asked me, “Where is your mommy’s house?”

“She doesn’t live in a house,” I said.

“Where is she?”

“Her body’s in a grave.”

“Why?” Laurel asked; her face was concerned.

“Because she died. Remember, we talked about this last week?”

“Why?” Laurel asked again.

I explained the same thing as before. She didn’t pursue it further.

I suspect it will take some time before Laurel remembers — let alone comprehends — what all this means.

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Tales in the city

I’m feeling guilty that I/we have let this blog lapse so badly (we’re not doing any better with Laurel’s baby book). As Laurel grows it’s gotten more difficult to quantify her development, but that’s no excuse. I really want this to be a document she can look back on as she’s older, and hopefully cherish.

Laurel turned 3 in March, and she’s in full-blown preschooler mode. In fact, she’s in preschool three days a week and having a blast (due in no small part to the fact that they go to parks twice a day as long as the weather’s nice). Unlike some of the kids there, she has not made any specific “best friends,” though I’m told that usually comes later on. We’ve been hunting for full-time preschools she can attend this fall, and have narrowed it down to two. She’ll go to one of them, and I’ll ideally go back to working full-time. Yikes.

We’ve also returned to swim classes, which we tried a year ago and didn’t go so well. She’s much more confident in the water now, which is to say that she’ll splash around a little bit and do some of the moves, rather than clinging to her parent and screaming. She still doesn’t like putting her face in the water, but I dunk her sometimes occasionally so she can see it’s nothing to worry about. Her favorite thing is sitting on the rim of the pool and then jumping into my arms, and doing “monkey bars” underneath a ladder stretched across the pool.

Without much drama, she potty trained last summer and fall, and has been out of diapers, even overnight, since September or October. She sleeps in her own bed in her own room (most of the time!). We went through some big changes last fall, moving into a new house and saying goodbye to our sick cat, and Laurel handled the transitions remarkably well.

She especially threw herself into the holidays last year. For Halloween, she was a leopard; and almost every day she still says “I’m a leopard!” (we recently realized that this may be, in part, because she thinks she gets candy when she’s a leopard). Christmas was also a big hit. She enjoyed opening her gifts, but more than that she loved handing out presents to other people! Same with her birthday — we had two parties in March — and one of her favorite things now is handing people random items and saying, “Here’s a present for your birthday!”

After spending much of her second year studying the alphabet like she was cramming for a midterm — first the letters, then the phonics, she’s starting to show interest in reading. She can already read two words, her own name and the name of the company Devin works for, no matter where or how you write them down. When reading she’ll often ask us what a specific word or line of text says, and we spend time with her and the alphabet magnets, making words and asking her to sound them out. It’s not something we’re pushing, just following her intense interest.

She has a few things that really scare her, including small flying insects (moths, fruit flies) and dark rooms. Oh, and toilets that auto-flush. They’re so unpredictable!

Devin recently bought a seat so she can ride on the bicycle with him. She loves it! Though that might have been hastened by a trip they took last week, which included a pit stop for cookies along the way. Now she talks about “riding the bike and getting a cookie.” Have I mentioned that she has a massive sweet tooth? Perhaps hastened by the cupcakes and cakes for her birthdays, she now asks for a cupcake or something else sweet almost every day. I’m afraid this may be my genes expressing themselves. :-/

Many of the parents at our co-op preschool tell me they think Laurel has a great sense of humor. She does tend to say things that are pretty funny, though I’m not sure she always knows it at the time. Example:

Laurel: *brings an animal toy to one of the co-op dads* What’s this?
Dad: That’s a bull. It’s a male cow.
Laurel: Cows make milk.
Dad: That’s true. What do you think bulls make?
Laurel: Buttermilk!

She also recently went through a period of asking, or dictating, what people smell like. Here’s one such exchange:

Laurel: *sniffing me* What do you smell like?
Me: I don’t know. What do I smell like?
Laurel: I think: old milk, old tea, and EYEBALLS.

That’s it for now, but I do hope we’ll update more often, at least monthly.