It's been awhile since we've updated you all on Charlie's latest shenanigans. At almost 22 months, she is definitely exercising her will and independence. I was hoping it would hold off, but it appears that the "Terrible Two's" have arrived in full force.
I often wonder these days what happened to my sweet-natured baby. She has been replaced by a running, red-faced, screaming-banshee little girl who will kick the side of her crib for an hour when she is supposed to be napping, just to see if someone will come in and get her up early.
Our biggest challenge as of late is mealtime. She refuses to sit in any highchair/booster seat without MUCH cajoling/bribing on our part. I think it must be that she wants to be a "big girl" so badly that she can't stand it if she can't sit at the big bench or in a chair without a harness. Our other challenge seems to be with children younger than she, who she appears to try to exercise some sort of authority over, or bully, if you want to know my honest opinion. I thought she was past the hair-pulling stage, but she has now taken to hitting from time to time and it mortifies me!! I was so happy to hear the other ladies in my Mom's Group this morning confirm that THIS.IS.TOTALLY.NORMAL. Toddlers are little people with big emotions. They are impulsive and have no way at this stage of understanding empathy. All Charlie knows is that someone has the toy she wants, and she's willing to hit/scream/fuss until she gets it.
Now, don't get me wrong, it's not all bad these days. She says "Thank you" all the time. This makes me so happy. She said it earlier today when I held the door open for her. It shows me that all is not lost, that she "gets" things, and is hopefully beginning to understand what manners are. She is a precocious, social child, and often says "hello" (or "hiyo", as she likes to say) to anyone who passes by. She loves being around her little friends. She loves her kitty sisters and is learning how to be gentler with them. She is curious. Daddy sings the "ABC" song to her every night and we really think she's learning her letters. I often hear her singing a tune of her own making, a mash-up of "Jesus Loves Me", "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star", and "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands".
I recognize that once one phase ends in a child's life, another one replaces it, so I'm not anticipating raising Charlie (or any other children we are blessed to have, including the one coming this Fall) to be EASY...but Vann and I realized last night that we are in a "messy" phase of life right now. School, cramped quarters, a toddler running amok, etc. leaves us both pretty exhausted at the end of the day.
Vann always says that his favorite part of the day is when he puts Charlie down for the night. It is normally his thing, but I did do it last week on a night when Vann had something else he needed to do, and it really brought me back to those first few months with her. I remember sitting in the rocking chair with our newborn and feeding her in the early morning. The people who live across the alley from us were always up at 5 am, and I always wondered what they were doing up that early. I had forgotten about those people until the other night. And sitting there with Charlie in the almost dark was so sweet, her little body rising and falling against mine, skin fresh and lotioned from a bath, eyes looking up at mine as she pointed out all of my facial features and waited for me to identify: "Eyes. Nose. Chin. Lips."
Life is just so fleeting, and before we know it, she's going to be older, and past this phase, into another phase. I guess what I'm trying to say is that no matter how painful it feels NOW, we should embrace the "messiness" of life and raising a 2 year old and know that God is faithful and will carry us through.