Dear Eliza,

At 16 months old, you are a blur.

You move quickly, quietly. The typical toddler zombie waddling has been replaced by a pace so quick, so sure-footed, I have to call it running. Any time I try to take your picture, it is a blur.
I did take many, many more photos of your sister at this age. If you ever give me grief for not taking as many photos of you, like aggrieved second children everywhere, I will bite my tongue to keep from saying, "Your sister stood still once in a while UNLIKE SOME PEOPLE I KNOW".

This is your face after being told a stern "No."

I work every day to see you for you, rather than hold you up against your sister for contrast. Your story is written next to your sisters, and after hers, so it is easy and natural to compare you two. Z is sensitive, E is a tank. Z was an early and expressive communicator, E was a gross-motor energizer bunny.

I hope I rise above these easy and simplistic comparisons more often than not.

I admit I was worried, just a bit, when you showed zero interest in sign language as a baby. After all, your sister started signing at 9 months and by a year, had over twenty signs. As a result of her early expressiveness, we were ardent baby sign evangelists and started manically signing at you when you were 9 months old. You looked aggrieved any time we tried to mold your hands into a sign or get you to look at us while we signed. You had other priorities, like gumming the plastic caps on the screws that keep the toilet attached to the floor and scaling the furniture with a purloined box of crackers clutched under your arm. After months of frustration, I almost gave up signing with you, sighing memorably: "I give up, she's just not interested.".

I think the day after I said that, you started signing "more", in your own time, in your own way, with your two pointer fingers tapping together. Thank you for the reminder that I shouldn't give up, that you are on your own journey, your own timetable.

Now you sign with great enthusiasm: "more", "all done", "milk", "water", "pacifier", "dog", "cat", "plane", "banana", "cracker", "cheese" and "book". You are working on saying your name ("Eye-Ah") and your sister's ("Yo-EE") and say "mama", "dada", and "ice" clear as a bell. Good thing we have an ice dispenser, because you do love it almost as much as your family.

Your new communication skills are a blessing in so many ways, but first and foremost because it means your screeching has abated. My eardrums thank you. Your words and signs thrill us all, because we get glimpses into your head. Apparently, you are ever hopeful that there is a dog behind every corner, though you'll settle for a cat. And crushed ice goes with every meal.

I need to learn the sign for "tomato" because you can spend inordinate amounts of time picking, sorting and squishing the tiny abundant fruit on our monster cherry tomato plant.
After you've been inside for awhile, we often find smushed green cherry tomatoes still clutched in your fingers. Or smeared on the couch cushions. Or in your hair.

So now, as I cuddle with you before bedtime, I sniff your hair and it smells sweet and earthy, like the sun and soil and sky all mixed together. It is different from the dreamy baby-head smell that I love so much. But it too is sweet and I love it too, so very much.


Your Clueless But Hopeful Mama


Marie Green said...

You capture her so well, I feel like I've met her, hung out with you all. (I feel the same way about how you capture Z.) Also, she's so big! When???? did that happen???

Michelle said...

The photo of her after you told her a stern no is priceless.
With our second daughter coming soon, I too worry about comparing too much.

Whimsy said...

I love these notes to your girls... a brief glimpse into your world with them.

And I love love LOVE the picture of E with the tomato plant. Precious.

grammalouie said...

I think E is a woman of power!

miyoko said...

I wonder what MY face looks like when dear I. tells ME a STERN 'NO'. I hear it ALL the time. Her 'just-gave-her-a-stern-no' face is a giant grin and she scrunches up her eyes and then laughs at me.
:( Yes. I have some how created two very 'strong' young ladies. Great photos!!!

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