Wednesday, September 25, 2013

sari and teddy - twenty three months

back in 2011, my friend joanna insisted that i meet a friend of her's, sari lehrer, that had just moved from new york city to los angeles. it took a while to coordinate but once i finally met sari, who was pregnant with teddy at the time, i knew i had found someone completely simpatico. since then, we have spent many hours discussing our children (she also has a four year old boy - jude) and everything else under the sun and i always leave her company feeling happy. i am so grateful to have her in my small group of friends here in los angeles and (selfishly) hope new york never lures her back. thank you sari!

When Elizabeth invited me to participate in this series, 23-months seemed a long way off. Now, it has come and gone. My baby is not a baby anymore, but a big girl. She tells me this herself. When I rock her in my arms, it is as if she is in on the joke: “Hold me like a baby,” she says. Then seconds later, she takes off, slipping out of my grasp, running, jumping, climbing, twirling, pushing a chair across the floor to reach some high-up shelf, slithering under the living room ottoman to curl like a kitty cat beneath it. Her movement is full of purpose. Her control over her body is breathtaking. Her joy in what she can do is palpable.

For the first year of her life, I wore Teddy everywhere, snugged up against my chest, heartbeat-to-heartbeat. Her second year, I have watched with wonder as she has inched farther and farther away, until one day, she pretty much launched herself into the wider world like a firecracker on the 4th of July, starry-eyed in love with everything it has to offer: the geese who live at the reservoir by our house, the pink and red flowers that grow in abundance all over our neighborhood, picnic dinners in the backyard with her big brother, lollipops and chocolate ice cream cones, a worn-out pair of gold sandals I’ve had since college, always the moon, always the ocean, more recently, the carousel at the zoo.

At 23-months, Teddy has fully entered the age of independence.

“I do it by my own.”
“Look at me, mama!”
“I doing it.”
“I did it.”
“Yay for Teddy!”

At 23-months, this truth is plain: I am home base, but I am no longer home.

At the playground, I must spot her with my hands held high in the air—“No holding!”—while she climbs the wobbly rope ladder, leaps across the lily pads, or swings from anything that remotely resembles monkey bars. When we take the dog for his morning walk, it is Teddy who holds the leash. Unless, of course, she is pushing her baby doll in its little red stroller. She will only wear dresses. She insists on dressing herself. And heaven forbid I try to help her buckle her shoes before she scootches her bum into my lap and asks!

But with this separation comes a new kind of closeness. Her affection is heartrendingly deliberate, less about me satisfying a physical need than Teddy wanting to express a feeling. Those tender little kisses, those fierce hugs. The way she grabs my face with both of her hands, twists a fistful of my hair, burrows her face in my neck or reaches down into the opening of my shirt. Sometimes, I want to do more than memorize these moments. I want to freeze time, trap Teddy right where she is, in my arms, at this age. But even more than that, I want to keep on watching her become the amazing, funny, loving, loyal, strong, daring, curious, clever, joyful person that she is.

And so, I let her go.

H O W W E P L A Y :

T O Y S :

When Teddy was born, my aunt sent her a baby doll and it has proven to be her most beloved toy. At 23-months, so much of Teddy’s play is imitative and role-based, and the baby doll figures prominently. She takes her for walks in this stroller, feeds her a bottle, swaddles her, changes her clothing, and puts her to bed. Likewise, she spends a lot of time in her kitchen, making me coffee and eggs, and taking her baby to the grocery store, also known as pushing this cart around our living room. She also loves her mice-ies and often crams one or two of them into her purse to take out on the town; that is, when it isn’t holding her phone, keys, money, and sunglasses. These beautiful peg dolls see a lot of action, too. (Less so, these rag dolls which enthrall her, but which she also treats with uncharacteristic delicacy.) And she loves to dress up in costume. When she is pretending to be a doctor, she likes to use this kit. Speaking of which, she sure does enjoy a good band-aid

B O O K S : Little Mommy, the Gossie books, Yummy, anything by Fujikawa, I am a Little…, Madeline, Big Red Barn, The Important Book

S O N G S : To keep her interested on long walks or comforted when she is cranky, I sing Moonshadow by Cat Stevens, Day by Day from the musical Godspell and Crawdad by Elizabeth Mitchell. (The first two, like so much of my musical repertoire, are songs we sang at my girlhood sleepaway camp—I suspect their words are tattooed on my memory forevermore.) In the evening, she gets two lullabies: Book of Love by The Magnetic Fields and Sisters of Mercy by Leonard Cohen. And in the car, which in L.A. is a lot of the time, she pretty much insists on hearing “Hey, Soul Sister” on an endless loop.

1 comment:

  1. I love those book options. What a beautiful child!