Big Girl

You did your very first swim lesson without me in the water, like a “big girl”. You also started climbing out of the crib, and have quickly transitioned to a “big girl bed”. You bought some “big girl underpants” to wear while toilet learning. I never thought I’d be one of those parents who weeps over a child growing up. And yet here I find myself. Frightened and proud. Broken and blissful. Mourning and celebrating. The dichotomy is overwhelming. 

I love you. I am so proud of you. Your snuggles and sweet words melt my heart, but please know that you are not responsible for meeting my emotional needs. Your smile brightens up a room and is contagious… but you are not responsible for my happiness, nor the happiness of others. You can and should be responsible TO others but not responsible FOR them. I hope you remember that as you continue to grow up, my loving and open-hearted child. 

Before bed, after reviewing the day together, you ask me to pick you up to do big cuddles and tell you all of the things that I love about you. You are brave. You are smart. You are determined. You are a good friend. You are gentle. You are strong. You are kind. You are loving. You are beautiful. You are hard-working. You usually remind me of a good description that I’ve left out. Tonight you reminded me that you’re a “good snuggler”. Indeed, you are. 

You are growing and learning so quickly every day. Sometimes I forget that you are only two years old! You seem like a wise old soul in a tiny body. At times, you observe the world with such seriousness, and you can get lost in a state of flow like no other toddler I know. 

You are such a remarkable and intuitive little girl. You make being your mommy both a gift and a challenge. You continue to help me to grow as a parent, teacher, artist, and a human being. You challenge me to prioritize my life, and to live in the moment. 
We won the lottery when we took a chance on you. You were totally worth the wait. 

A Year of Willow-isms

When I do language assessments, I try to record phrases or sentences spoken by the child, as this helps me to see growth over time. Verbatim scribing allows me to more accurately assess oral language proficiency and develop appropriate programming based on the individual’s strengths and needs. It also helps when referring children to speech and language pathologists, who might find specific samples helpful in assessing articulation difficulties, word retrieval issues, etc.  

Observing a toddler who is actively developing oral language skills is a language-geek’s gold mine.  I have been fascinated by her every utterance since her first “Dada” and “Kit-n” (kitten) and am frequently found recording videos of random conversations just so that I can play them back and hear her little voice. I seriously geek out when I analyze her speech. Articulation. Syntax. Vocabulary. Intonation. Volume control. It’s one of the many reasons that I call this stage the “Terrific Twos”. I present to you a collection of adorable quotes that show some  amazing oral language development from 16 months of age right up to today (2 years 4 months old), affectionately known as “A Year of Willow-isms”. 

“I think so. Yes, I will wear a sleep sack to bed. When I am crabby I will take it off. And maybe I will take off my diaper. Yes, I think so.”-Willow Mei, on planning ahead (July 2016). 

“I love you, mommy. I love you so much. Need a kiss and a snuggle. Yes, I love you and you love me. Goodnight little bee.” -Willow Mei, on the importance of bedtime rituals (July 2016).

“I’m cranky and tired and I need a nap!!” -Willow Mei, on self-care and the importance of rest (July 2016). 

“I tested my blood sugar. I need some insulin, please.” -Willow Mei, on the diligent management of imaginary diabetes (June 2016).

“He’s not going a good job. He’s doing a medium job!” -Willow Mei, on the moderately adequate performance of toys on a ramp (June 2016).

“I’m so lucky. I’m so beautiful. Everyone loves Willow.”-Willow Mei, on the importance of the development of self-esteem (June 2016).

“See? My lips [chapstick] is a choking hazard for Baby Gemma. So I’m a just put lips in my purse so Baby Gemma can’t get it. Is a choking hazard.” -Willow Mei, on responsibility (June 2016)

“I need a skip to my lou because I have endergy!” -Willow Mei, on a child’s right to play (June 2016)

“That’s not nice! Listen to mommy! Listen to the doctor! They not listening, mommy! Jumping on the bed! Bumping a head!” -Willow Mei, on the disturbing noncompliance of the five little monkeys, even after repeated warnings from a health professional (June 2016).

“I neeeeeeeed to peek at daddy at work. I need to peek at him. Just quick, quick, quick. Because I need to. Thank you-please.” -Willow Mei, on sneaking up on Daddy at work (June 2016).

“Mommy, that too difficult for me. I’m a CHILD!” -Willow Mei, on practising oral hygiene skills (May 2016).

“Daddy sick. Daddy havin’ a big cough like me in a bathroom. Daddy is sad. Need a kiss and a snuggle and feel better. Poor daddy.”-Willow Mei, on compassion for those we have infected with VomitPalooza (May 2016).

“It’s fweezing, mommy. My panda boots say ‘Brr! Too chilly! Time a go inside and have some snack!’ “-Willow Mei, on Spring mornings (April 2016).

“I love you, Panda. I love you so much. Could Panda BE any cuter? No.” Willow Mei, on loving those who comfort us when we are ill (April 2016). 

“What’s a matter, mommy? Sad? Need a panda? Need a Noam-Noam Chimpsky? Need a kiss and a snuggle?” –Willow Mei, on the importance of compassion and comfort (April 2016).

“I’m not tired anymore. Baa baa white sheep, three bags full, right? One for a master. Okay, Baa Baa? Okay? That’s why. That’s why. I’m not tired.” -Willow Mei, on bedtime (March 2016). 

“Good-night, Daddy. Need a snuggle. Need a kiss.” -Willow Mei, on the importance of demanding physical affection as part of one’s basic toddler rights (March 2016). 

“Mommy, don’t eat a red thing. Is a choking hazard.”–Willow Mei, on food safety (March 2016). 

“Hello, neighbour. Nice to see you again. Bye, neighbour. See you another day!” -Willow Mei, on the importance of being a good neighbour (March 2016). 

“Mommy and Daddy best friends.” -Willow Mei, on the importance of parents who actually like each other (March 2016). 

“Mommy? Daddy? Go daycare? Go shopping? Go swimming? Today? Another day?” -Willow Mei, on the importance of predictable scheduling (March 2016). 

“Mommy, mail in a mailbox! (Placing foam letters into her backpack, pretending it is a mailbox). ACTUALLY, it’s a backpack.” -Willow Mei, on separating reality from fantasy (February 2016). 

“Vroomy-vroom-vroom! Willow at the wheel!” -Willow Mei, on Mondays (January 2016). 

“Down, up, down, up, W for Willow!” -Willow Mei, on the importance of the letter W (January 2016).

“Why? Why no charger do it? Fix it! Fix it pease, momma?”-Willow Mei, on the sadness of an uncharged old-timely phone that just won’t plug into an iPhone cable (December 2015). 

“Oh, no! Happened? Dopped it. Want it. Get it. Help, pease, mommy. Turn? Turn?”-Willow Mei, on the sadness of dropping a toy and having your cat siblings snatch it (November 2015). 

“No monkeys jumping!!” -Willow Mei, on the common urge to defy physicians’ orders (October 2015). 

“Stah-bewwy? Stah -bewwy? Where? Where stah-bewwy?” –Willow Mei, on the intense sadness that comes with the sudden realization that summer is truly over and strawberries are no longer in season (October 2015). 

“Boys! Mine!” -Willow Mei, reflecting on the concepts of gender and ownership after her first day back at daycare (September 2015).  

“Bubbles?!?”–Willow Mei, on the futility of washing dishes which shall be dirtied again within the hour (August 2015). 

“Beep, beep! Go! Go! Car! Car!”–Willow Mei, on traffic jams (August 2015). 

“What id it? Kitten! Kitten! Meow! Meow!” -Willow Mei, on furry friends (July 2015).