Dear Kavya, You’re…

Dear Kavya,

You're twenty-one months today -- one year and three-quarters. You're such a good kid these days, at least most of the time. You sleep through the night (except when you don't, which is usually if you're sick or in pain from one of those last molars coming in). You give lots of hugs and kisses. You are crazy fond of bathtime, and water in general. Also of outside, which sadly you're not getting so much of right now, but soon, baby, I promise. Lotta is still your favorite doll, although you have fun dressing and undressing and telling stories and putting to bed all the dollies (and the bear, and the bunny, and...)

You love daddy and mama and Ellie. Sometimes you love mama a little too much, but mostly I can handle it, except when I'm not feeling well or it's the middle of the night, when your insistence on mama-only can kind of suck. But you're so good the rest of the time that it's hard to stay upset. Especially when I remind myself that you're not actually trying to make me crazy.

Compared to other toddlers, based on my friends' reports, we've gotten tremendously lucky. For one thing, you eat pretty much everything -- we don't give you super-spicy food, but you can actually handle medium spicy okay already -- better than some of my friends can, in fact. Of course, there's no guarantee that you'll eat anything on any given day, but you're pretty reliably fond of pancakes, eggs, hot dogs, cheese, applesauce, yogurt, rice, pasta, tomatoes, grapes, berries, bananas, and cookies. You get most excited about rice, proving that even though you look pretty white, you're a brown girl at heart.

Mostly these days, you talk. Talk and talk and talk and talk. We don't understand most of what you say, but we're happy to listen to the running monologue anyway. You're a little parrot, able to copy and learn almost any word we say, and you remember and can name some of our friends when they come over -- Lori and Ursa, Simone. My current favorite thing you say is "All right!" which you offer up when asked if you want rice, or milk, or tv (especially Caillou, which you still adore beyond all reason). You can also almost count to ten, although you do miss 3 and 4 on occasion. Your alphabet's a bit spottier, but you like singing it to yourself, even if half the letters are missing. You recognize lots of letters now, which makes it a little slower reading you books, since we get interrupted lots by your pointing out and naming letters. But that's okay.

Basically, kid, life with Kavi at twenty-one months is pretty grand. We hear the terrible twos are coming, and we're braced for it. But for now, we'll just enjoy you while we can!

love,
Mama

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Dear Kavya, I can’t…

Dear Kavya,

I can't quite believe it's eighteen months already. Almost a week past, actually -- you keep us busy enough that it's tough remembering to mark and celebrate the milestones as they rush by. It's only because you're napping now that I have time to write this at all, and I'd better be quick, since this is also when I get to clean up, feed myself, answer all my e-mail, write stories...

It's not really as bad as all that. These days, you can entertain yourself pretty well for an hour or two at a time, especially if we break down and put the tv on. You're not so enthralled by actual shows, but you do love your theme songs. The look of delight on your face when Bob the Builder comes on is quite adorable, and your sheer enthusiasm as you holler out, "Yes, we can!" (or rather, "ess ee an!!!") is so damn cute that we both end up singing you the theme song several times a day. Your dad has seriously weakened on his reluctance to sing, because you love it so much when we do. You're particularly fond of songs where you can come in on a chorus -- when we sing "Pop Goes the Weasel" you love singing "pop!" -- sometimes jumping as you do it. You did that for Venu when she came over for Friday night poker, and she almost fell down, she was so startled and delighted.

You're pretty much delighting everyone these days, your parents included. After a brief bobble around sixteen months, you're back to sleeping through the night, reliably going down at 7:30 and most days, sleeping until 7:30. *Plus* a 1 - 3 afternoon nap. This makes your parents so much happier than they were, I can't tell you. It's not that we don't enjoy your company, munchkin -- we just enjoy it so much more when we, and you, are well rested. Nowadays you wake up smiling and chattering, and while we can't quite understand most of your conversations yet, you're still perfectly happy to keep up a steady stream of what is clearly intended to be language. We're going to get there, baby, I swear.

So far, here are the words we understand: hi, bye, mama, papa, ai-yee (Ellie), nigh-nigh (night-night), owl, doggy, ruff-ruff (what the doggy says), ook-ook (what the monkey says), nana (from banana, for food), wa-wa (water), eeze (cheese), baba (your favorite bear)...and probably quite a few more I'm forgetting. We're trying to get you to say chalk, because chalk is your new absolute favorite toy, and you get quite distressed when you want it but we are slow in figuring that out and getting it to you. Your artwork is very creative, but perhaps you could confine it to the chalkboard instead of decorating our furniture, clothes, aquarium, toys, safety gate, stroller...and, well, pretty much everything at Kavi-height? Let's work on that. (Yes, I know Daddy encourages you (note blue chalk on toenails). I'm working on him too.)

I'm not really complaining, cutie-pie. Because here's a secret -- at around fifteen months, you started being really fun. Making us laugh all the time, smiling and giggling and singing and dancing. Your mood improved dramatically (maybe finishing up the teething?), and you often go through an entire day now as a cheerful angel baby. Especially if we're willing to help you do some of your favorite things, like splashing water in the sink, or going outside, or jumping on the couch. You still make it hard to get work done, but now it's because it's so tempting to just sit on the floor and play with you, which is a vast improvement over all the frantic-trying-to-soothe-fussy-babyness of earlier months. We love it. Keep it up, kiddo, okay?

And now here I am, knowing I ought to get work done while you're sleeping, but a bit of me is just looking forward to when you wake up from your nap, so we can play again.

love,
Mama

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Dear Kavya, I had…

Dear Kavya,

I had planned to write you a letter for your first birthday, kunju, and for every one thereafter, until you turn twenty-one. But here I am, a day late already. I hardly saw you on your birthday; I left early, while you were still sleeping, to go to work, and by the time I came home, late at night, you were already down for the night in your crib. I'm afraid this won't be the first time that I don't live up to my ideals as your mother, so you might as well get used to it now. I can take a little consolation that you won't notice that I missed your birthday, this first time around -- you probably didn't miss me at all, though I sure did miss you. I called you and sang your current favorite lullaby, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" over the phone; did you hear me? Did you know it was me? Hopefully next year, I'll be there for you, baby.

And it's not as if you weren't celebrated, little girl. You had two birthday parties, one in Chicago with lots of friends, and one in Connecticut with lots of relatives. There were balloons, which you loved, and cake, which you weren't so sure about, and eventually presents, which you were almost too tired to unwrap. Your favorites were the bead maze and the soft knight on his rolling horse. There were lots of hugs and kisses -- sometimes more than you wanted; you seemed a little overwhelmed by all the people. But your daddy and I kept sneaking you away to be alone with us, and then you were your smiley self again, full of giggles and snuggles and eager to show off all your tricks. This is some of what you can do right now:

  • You can say 'dada' and 'dog' and sometimes 'mamamama' which we think means me, but we're not sure. 'Dada' you use for almost everything -- the table, the photos on the wall, the sky. 'Dog' means Ellie, or sometimes other dogs. You do know more words than that -- when we say Ellie's name, or yours, you turn and look in the right direction. But you don't want to be bothered saying the words yet, it seems. We're so eager for you to actually start talking, baby, that it's driving us a little crazy, but right now, you seem to think 'dada' suffices for almost all your needs. Fair enough; we'll try to be patient and tell ourselves that everyone learns to talk eventually.

  • You can wave bye-bye, and clap hands, and raise your arms high in the air when we say "So big!" or "Yay, Kavi!" This weekend, daddy taught you to take his hands in yours and make him clap, which you think is the funniest thing ever.

  • You can walk! This is a new development -- a week ago, you could only take a step or two before falling down. Now, you can totter across the room, turn, and make it all the way back to us! Sometimes, anyway. Right now, we're still finding it utterly charming -- soon, I think, we'll be cursing your increased mobility as we race after you. Yesterday, you climbed up onto your stroller, and tried from there to climb onto the aquarium. The stroller is now safely away in the closet, but how many new hazards will you find in the next week?

  • You can sleep through the night, almost every night, for which your parents are so very very grateful.

All in all, we are very impressed with your accomplishments. I wish you could see how excited we get when you do something new, as if no baby in the world has ever done that new thing before. Your grandparents are even worse. You're the first grandchild in both families although your cousin Brooke was a close second, and you are very much adored. You are regularly assured that you are the cleverest, cutest baby in the world, in both English and Tamil. We would say prettiest too, but a) we don't want to teach you to obsess about your looks, and b) you're still somewhat lacking in hair. I'm sure it'll show up eventually, though, so don't worry.

Mostly, you are just a very good baby, Miss Kavya. To be honest, we had a rough time at first, since you refused to breastfeed, and took an awfully long time to start sleeping through the night. There were days, especially in the first weeks, when your daddy and I seriously wondered if we'd made a terrible mistake, if we were just too old and tired to do this parenting thing. Those first six weeks were the hardest thing we'd ever done, and surviving them was like running a gauntlet. We weren't sure we'd make it.

But then you smiled at us, and then you giggled, and snuggled into us, and learned who we actually were. With every passing day you became more of a real, fascinating little person. We can't wait to see who you'll become. And while I can't speak for your daddy, I can say this for myself -- I absolutely know that I did the right thing for me in deciding to try to have a child. Becoming a mother has been the biggest transformation in my life, and I suspect I will spend the rest of my days trying to put this experience into words. You make the world new, Kavi, each and every day.

You've been an almost-perfect baby. I'll keep trying to be an almost-perfect momma for you, okay? Okay. Deal.

love and hope and kisses,
Amma

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