There’s lots of fun stuff going on. Owlet’s play has become increasingly imaginative, and her language skills have ratcheted up another couple of notches. She uses “I” and “me” correctly, and rarely refers to herself in the third person by her name anymore.
Zippers are big right now. If her jacket or sweater has a zipper, it has to be done up, and done up all the way to her chin. She gets fixated on some things, like wearing rainboots instead of shoes, and can’t get past them. Most of the time she’s such a cheerful little thing that the issues she gets fixated about seem much worse in comparison. Sometimes she just gets stuck in a crying jag, and if you ask her why she’s crying, she says, “I — don’t — know,” with big huffs and gulps of breath. It’s a way of decompressing about all the little things that have been piling up; a quick burst of crying and everything’s okay again.
Two of her schoolmates have recently acquired baby brothers, and there is a lot of play centering around caring for baby dolls going on at daycare. It’s happening at home, too. “I carry Hop-Hop like a baby. Baby’s crying. Baby Zack can’t ask for milk, so he cries.” Baby Zack, who made a kind of show-and-tell appearance at daycare, has very small toes on very small feets, I am told. And sometimes she likes to pretend she’s a baby, too. “Carry me like a baby!” Well, kiddo, that’s a lovely thought, but you’re over 36 pounds and a metre tall, and that makes for a lot of baby. Particularly when you’re trying to maneuver your way through a doorway on the way to bed.
Chocolate frappés are her newest snacktime obsession. We call them chocolate milkshakes because it’s easier, and make them by blending ice cubes, milk, and a spoonful of cocoa powder and a bit of sugar. They are terrific treats because (a) they come with straws, and (b) you can dip cookies into them.
With the change in weather, we are spending lots more time outside, which she’s thrilled about. She can putter around as much as she likes, watering all the rocks she can find. Yes, she’s still fascinated by rocks. She picks up ones that are warm from the sun and waters them with her little watering can, then sets them along the edge of the steps to the back deck or next to plants. She trundles back and forth from the window wells along the side of the house, picking up the river stones that fill them, and carrying them out to her playhouse in the back garden. She had a whole collection on the back windowsill, and has started a rock garden beside the door.
She has also been working hard to master the slide of the play structure in the backyard. The one at daycare has a gentler angle. Ours has a more vertical grade, so she flies down it and usually shoots off the end and lands on her bottom with a thud, which results in crying and frustration. Someone had to hold her hand for a few days while she worked on it, and now she’s just about able to get her legs in the right position to turn the finish into a jump, and then land on her feet. She’s using a regular swing at daycare, too, which means we need to replace her wooden baby-seat swing with a new big-kid one. (Actually, we need two new big-kid ones, because the one we took off to make room for the wooden baby swing is broken, and the one Sparky uses is also cracking.) She got her own little pool this past weekend, too, because the big one HRH’s parents bought for the kids is too deep for her. “I getting my own pool,” she said, looking at the big one, “because this one too enormous.” So we set them up side by side, and each of them is perfectly happy to run around and splash in their own pool, tossing balls back and forth between them.
Choosing music in the car in the morning (for the five-minute drive) is very important to her. “I choose… owls!” she’ll say with excitement, wanting to hear the score from Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’hoole. “I choose Merida! Frozen! Flufflies! (That would be “Fireflys” by Owl City.) She loves the idea of playlists. “I love playlist!” she exclaims happily when we put one on and she recognizes all the songs in it. (Remember when she used to say “Thank you!” every time the next song in the playlist I’d made for her came on, like I’d just that moment looked through my music for a song because she liked it?) The kids are working out turns. Even if Sparky doesn’t want to listen to anything in particular, if it’s his turn, he insists on not letting Owlet choose.
One day last week I was sitting in the living room with my tea. Most of the time I have a granola bar for breakfast, but I’ve stopped doing it before I take the kids to school, because they pester me for bites and I end up eating less than half of it. On this particular day Owlet noticed that all I had in my hands was my cup of tea. “Mummy!” she said brightly. “Mummy, I get a granola bar for you!” Off she trotted to the pantry, looking over her shoulder, saying, “Okay, Mummy? Granola bar? For you?” I had to laugh. It was so clearly a ploy to get herself half of the granola bar, disguised as concern and care for my morning snack. We saw right through it, but it was such an amusing example of toddler cunning. She tucks me into her bed after I’ve read her bedtime stories, too, nestling Hop-Hop into the crook of my arm, pulling the covers up to our chins, and kissing us both. “Close your eyes,” she orders, then slips off the bed and goes to get HRH. “Mummy’s sleeping,” she says, “not wake her up.” Again, it’s adorable toddler cunning – if Mummy’s sleeping there, then I can’t go to bed! – but really, I just enjoy the minute of lying quietly while they say goodnight to Sparky and the cats.
She’s working hard on the concept of fear. “Hop-Hop is scared,” she says sometimes. Sometimes it’s because she’s displacing, sometimes it’s because she’s pretending the bunny is afraid of whatever they’re watching or reading together. She has a sudden terror of ants, for some reason; she calls them spiders and panics, despite no one modeling panicked behaviour about either ants or spiders, at home or daycare. And yet she turns over rocks with her brother and looks at the millipedes and roly-polys. There was a poor bumblebee on the unistone path last week, its wings shredded; I have no idea what had happened, but it was in bad shape. The kids crouched next to it, fascinated, for ages. I had to drag them into the house.
These days she’s very into Peter Rabbit (finally, after refusing to read Beatrix Potter books forever) and Paddington Bear. She got her first library card last weekend and was a blur when she got to her section. She ended up bringing home two Henry and Mudge books, which is awesome because we have a pile of books in that series, but not the two she chose. We moved that pile to her room from Sparky’s, to her excitement and Sparky’s begrudgment. (Never mind that he hasn’t read them in years; it’s the principle of the thing.)
At the house next to the home daycare we go to, there’s a concrete lion at the end of the driveway and a big rock in front of the garden. Every morning, Owlet stops and says hello to each them. We have been working very hard on not walking onto the lawn to give them hugs and kisses. Winter helped, because they were covered in snow, but now the temptation is again there. So she carefully lines the toes of her rainboots up along the edge of the sidewalk, getting as close as she can, leans over and talks to the lion, then moves over and does the same to the rock. The rock is about two feet tall and maybe eighteen inches wide. The other morning, she said there was a baby chicken inside. It took me a minute or two before I understood that she meant it was vaguely egg-shaped. Then no, she said; there was a dragon inside. Okay, so now it’s a dragon egg; sure, why not? That’s a great pretend. Then: “No. Issa rabbit. There’s a baby rabbit inside. Bye, rock and baby rabbit! See you this afternoon!”
So now you know where baby rabbits come from. They hatch from huge rocks. Or they do in our bright and beautiful little girl’s imagination, at least.