The Dumpling is two! As in, years. As in, no more counting months. Even her clothes say 2. About a year ago, at the Barnes and Noble train table, after listening to a set of parents discuss their daughter’s recent clothing upgrade to 3T, I remarked that I was glad we didn’t have to buy our clothes based on age as adults. The mom shot me a confused glare. The dad’s hard expression did not flinch as he very stoically informed me that obviously if that were the case the ages would “taper off.” I quickly remembered there is no time for mindless levity at the Barnes and Noble train table. Locomotion education is no joking matter.
Now, as the Dumpling journeys into full-fledged toddlerhood, some of the train tables have been removed from the stores near us and the new stores we’ve visited don’t have them. It’s as if all those trips in her early days were just a figment of my imagination. Or maybe the universe is telling me to let go of the past and move into this new phase of her life. Locomotion is out and toddler tricycles are in.
People often talk about the moment after having kids when their lives finally started getting back to normal, when they started feeling like themselves again. For so long I was caught between my pre-Dumpling identity as someone who can shower on a moment’s notice and my new identity as someone with passionate opinions about baby wipes. The truth is, that old identity never returns in the same way. How could it? No one goes back to feeling normal again. Most people probably just learn to feel more settled in a new normal. After two years, and much resistance from pre-dumpling me, the new normal has taken hold.
The new normal means I might break into trance-like recitations of Goodnight Moon at random moments. It means realizing my miniscule knowledge of Rainforests until watching Go Diego Go. Who knew sloths are great swimmers, that chinchillas have big ears, or that sometimes all the Rainforest animals break into song and dance flash mobs? Seriously, is it wrong to think the show is educational for adults? Needless to say, I hope and expect that the Dumpling will surpass me in every way, which clearly will not be too hard. I learned that Cheerios can fit into every crevice of a car seat and that they are a blast to clean out. I learned the surprise of hearing words from a little person who only knew how to cry and giggle for so long. Then the words became sentences and, well, she must be two, because now they’re commands. Most notably, “Mommy, no singing. No! No! No!”
Note to self: Cancel Voice audition.
So, the Dumpling is two and it is not terrible at all. It’s great. Although, there has been some new behavior. When she does not want to leave a playground she first shouts an emphatic, “No!” and when that doesn’t work and I attempt to pick her up, her body turns to Jell-O. When I finally manage to scoop up the pile of screaming Jell-O and carry it to the car and deposit it in the car seat, the Jell-O solidifies. We are then in a stand off as her stiffened body will not lower into the car seat. Sometimes she even rolls over onto her stomach when I try to gently settle her into the seat. Even after she finally allows me to fasten her in the car seat, she usually keeps up the sobbing or moaning. She sometimes moans all the way home. But, by the time we get out of the car she’s over it and more interested in picking dandelions.
Other new behavior includes saying “Hi” and “Bye” to anyone who will listen and announcing while in line at the DMV, “I did a big poop!”. She could have at least left out the “big” part. Since, from what I could tell, everyone in line had nasal passages, I knew this declaration was a mere redundant tossing of salt in the smell wound. Still, we were almost at the front of the line after a long wait so I was not giving up my spot for a diaper change. All I could do was look around apologetically at the offended nostrils.
Since everything so far seems like normal emotional changes and a very healthy gut, things are going pretty well. Or maybe things are good because she inherited her dad’s fastidious nature and likes to clean. Or maybe things are good because, luckily, I managed to stay exactly the same age. It’s true, my clothes say so.