(and a half)
I've been terribly negligent in keeping up with the K updates. The combination of a chaotic summer, depression and grief, too much work and the fact that her development just isn't as dramatic from month to month any more have all conspired to keep me from writing all of her incredible changes down.
I know for many people two is a challenging age. And we certainly have our share of tantrums, defiance and a very definite, yet capricious idea of how the world should be ordered. But I have to say (and don't hate me for this, fellow parents of two-year-olds), two is an absolutely fabulous age for us. Because we had all of those negative behaviors before she turned two, but we also had screaming and bucking when we tried to get her in her carseat, a desperate need for instant gratification and a hair-trigger whine. All that is a lot better these days, and two is a walk in the park compared to 21 and 22 months.
I think the improvement in disposition can be traced to a few leaps forward in brain development:
1. She has a much better understanding of sequences, and therefore understands that, for instance, to go to the library we first have to put her shoes and coat on and then get in the car, so she will do all of those things willingly. And she recognizes that I have to go through certain steps to make her lunch, so as long as she sees me doing those things, she doesn't need to wail until she gets the food she wants. I can't begin to say how much more pleasant this makes life.
2. She can talk better and get across a lot of what she needs verbally. I was worried about her speech for a while - it seemed odd that a child that had a vocabulary that big didn't seem to talk much. As it turns out, she was talking, just not intelligibly. But she's more understandable and I'm listening more closely, so we're communicating much better now.
It feels like K is losing so much of the randomness of early toddlerhood. She goes about her play with so much purpose. She plays with her trains and cars, builds towers with her blocks, uses her doctor kit to listen to our hearts and look in our ears, makes pretend cookies out of play-doh, makes her dinosaurs roar and takes meticulous care of her baby doll. What she does these days is a lot more recognizable tasks of imaginative play and a lot less random playing with physics (shaking and banging things, taking things in and out of other things, ripping things up, etc).
She recognizes some letters, can count objects at least up to ten, recognizes shapes and colors and knows her body parts. She can unhesitatingly match shapes.
I am doing my best to provide her with a wide variety of potential interests that ignore stereotypical gender lines, and so far it seems to be working. She loves her blocks and trains, her toy toolkit, dinosaurs (why, oh why do girls' clothes not have dinosaurs on them?) and running her cars down ramps. But she also loves to help me cook and do housework, try on new clothes and is absolutely, passionately baby-obsessed. Lately, her baby doll is her favorite toy and we can't go anywhere without it and its bottles just in case it gets hungry. She dresses it and tenderly straps it into its stroller.
That seems like a nice balance of interests to me. Right now, she has no idea that there are certain things she should and shouldn't like because of her sex, and I'm hoping to keep it that way for a while.
I'm in awe of how far her gross motor skills have come from last spring when I first started taking her to the playground to now. She started the summer crawling up stairs, teetering across the bridges and was more likely to try to step out into thin air than to successfully sit down at the top of a slide to slide down. Now, she walks up and down stairs holding onto the rail, runs confidently, has mastered slides and is obsessed with ladders, which she has mostly figured out.
Her fine motor skills are just fantastic. Recently, she picked up a jar of tiny beads and I found her successfully threading them onto a cord. She uses silverware well and has figured out a way to use chopsticks in a very clumsy, yet somewhat successful fashion. She can put on a shirt, pants and socks (she's been successfully stripping naked for nearly two years now).
K is currently 35.5 inches and 29 pounds. Her arms and legs are getting longer and she's almost lost her toddler potbelly. I can't believe how much she's grown up in the past few months. I can see her babyhood slipping away, almost gone, with this child emerging in her place. Sniff.