Sunday, September 07, 2008

Pebbles At 19 Months

No, it's not cold out here in Illinois yet. Pebbles was just trying on this winter coat yesterday, and trying out the feel of sitting on the potty at the same time. And no, we're not potty training yet either. But after seeing a potty up at my parents' cabin, Pebbles came home chattering about it, so we hauled this one out of the basement.

What is Pebbles like at 19 months? She's in the middle of a verbal explosion. She had a few stock phrases before, but until last weekend I don't think I heard her come up with an original sentence, as in stringing together several words that she knows to express herself. Up at the cabin ths weekend, she saw some people riding horseback and was enthralled. We told her what that was, and a few minutes she saw some more riders, and very clearly said:

"Wan(t) ride pony."

I assured her that I, too, wanted to ride a pony, and that someday, hopefully soon, Daddy would buy Pebbles, Nutmeg and me our own ponies. I informed Grammy and Grampy that they could move to the country and take care of our ponies for us. They're still getting used to that idea.

Pebbles has also gotten to know people in her extended family better this month. She stayed overnight with her Grammy and Grampy, and never cried for me or asked about nursing while she was with them. Over the weekend, I could see how familiar she feels with them now: She'd walk right up to them and say, "Gabby?" which is her name for both of them.

(Nutmeg, by the way, got to spend a whole week with their other grandparents this month, and came home all aglow about water parks, the cute baby chimp at the Milwaukee County Zoo, and all the other fun she had. Quick anecdote: Eating sack lunches at the zoo, Grandma asked Nutmeg if this was the kind of lunch that Mommy would pack. "Oh no," Nutmeg answered. "She wouldn't pack chips. Or juice. Or cookies." Heh. I'm proud of her honesty, although in defense of my funness, I must point out that I do sometimes pack a fruit snack if I got a good sale.)

Today both girls spent the morning with our friends Kori, Mike and EJ, and Pebbles also seemed quite comfortable being left with them, dispensing hugs and smiles all around and chowing down on Annies mac and cheese.

Pebbles introduced herself to another baby this week. The baby, 12 months old, pointed and said "baby" to Pebbles. Pebbles pointed to herself and clarified, "Pebbles." Except, you know, with her real name.

Pebbles can now walk down the stairs facing forward and holding the rail. She likes putting Legos together and then holding up the product to proclaim, "Wow!" She has dedicated a lot of time to trying to coerce us into doing things by asking and, if necessary, crying. When she thinks we're about to cave, she always says in a satisfied voice, "OK!"

Pebbles has finally developed some food affinities: she likes cheese, pizza, and cheese pizza. Oh, and also anything that comes in a package. That's right, the kid for whom I slave away to purchase, chop and cook whole foods only wants stuff that comes out of a crinkly foil wrapper or a box. This morning, after turning down both scrambled eggs and cold pizza for breakfast, Pebble saw me come in from CVS with a bag of Chex Mix. She was on that bag in an instant, chattering, "Open, open, eat, eat."

If only I could enclose fresh broccoli in sealed pouches, she would probably love that too. Someone needs to tell this child about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Age 1, especially the sort of middle months of the second year of life, is not one that I was looking foward to with my second child. I remembered the chaos, the temper tantrums, the lost ability to settle down for a nap or bedtime in a stroller or sling.

Somehow I did not remember what a fun age this is. Watching her language and cognitive abilities unfold before my eyes is such a thrill. I think the chaos brought on by a toddler running around grabbing things came as a surprise the first time around, and now that my life is already consumed with chaos, I've found that having another toddler in my life has brought mostly more happiness.

Maybe that's why we are now daring to think of adding another child to the Mix Master. And I have thought of Pebbles more than anyone in making this decision. If we have another baby, Pebbles will become a middle child -- the child who supposedly gets the least attention and love. If we have another child, Pebbles will never have the chance to have Mom and Dad all to herself -- the oldest child was alone with us for the first two years, and the youngest will be alone with us after the others go off to college. If we have another baby now, Pebbles won't even get any time when Nutmeg is off at school all day before a new baby comes along to divide my attention.

It chokes me up as I'm writing this to imagine Pebbles being "downgraded" in any way.

I put a lot of stock in birth order and how it affects our personalities. I'm a classic oldest child -- responsible, hard-driving, attention-hogging.

Epu, on the other hand, is a classic middle child: easygoing, social, generous, without the bossiness or desire to please authority of an oldest child, nor the self-focus and less responsible nature of some fun-loving youngest children.

And you know what? Epu is the most wonderful, kindest, most loving person I have ever met in my life. Growing up like Epu is not a fate I'd want Pebbles to avoid. And it's really Pebbles who has made us realize how much another child could add to our lives, whether we get a boy or another girl. It's Pebbles who showed us what a unique individual each child is, how they contribute new joy in each stage of their lives as opposed to being the same drill all over again.

So, Pebbles, if you are reading this someday, I hope you are OK with our decision to add to the family. And if you're not, please don't blame us. If you had just been a little brattier and a little less fun, we certainly would have stopped at two.


Kori said...

Oh, we love us some Pebbles. You can bring her by anytime, and after we're done sitting, we just might give her back.

Her hug yesterday just melted me. Ahhh....sigh...

4in4 said...

What a lovely post, inside and out! I agree that I found this age way more challenging with the first and way less so with the later kiddos.

Kim Moldofsky said...

I love the photo. And if you're thinking about adding to your family but a bit ambilvalent, Magic 8 ball is totally the way to go :-)