We spent some time in DC this month, visiting with friends from London who have a baby two months older than Adriana. It was funny to see how different they are, even though they are so close in age. Abigail is much more verbal than Adriana, speaking very clearly in her husky little baby voice to ask for what she wants, instead of fussing or signing. But Adriana is the more kinesthetic of the two girls, sliding gleefully down the slide, and running up and down a little hill outside the Hirschorn by herself, even after taking a couple of spills, while Abigail wanted to hold a hand. That difference really made tangible for me who Adriana is right now (and it's amazing that she is somebody right now--a real little person).
She is stubborn and excitable and independent and daring. She likes to try to climb up the slides, and while she will ask for help if she can't do it, if we refuse to help her, she'll keep trying to do it herself. I'm terrified when I see her climbing the play structures at the park, but I take a deep breath and let her go--staying near enough to catch her if she takes a big spill, letting her take occasional little spills in the hope that she'll learn, and applauding her when she goes down the big slide without any help. For a while I assumed that she was a sort of a daredevil because she was just a little kid who didn't have any sense yet, but as I watch other children at the park, I see that other kids her age are more cautious. That worries me and makes me proud. As far as I can remember, I was always an extremely cautious kid, and I think in some cases it held me back., so as much as I worry about the falls she might take, I force myself to let her climb.
With other activities she's less independent, or at least she gets frustrated easily. She struggles with a little puzzle she has. She'll try only once or twice to put a piece in, and then gives it to Brian or me to put in. She doesn't want to try to put the jacket on the toy monkey herself. but brings both things to me so I will do it for her.
She still isn't speaking, but she manages to communicate. She learns signs fairly easily these days, only needing to see them once or twice, so we have been working on signs for different kinds of food, and she now specifies what she wants by signing for cheese, beans, veggies, or grapes. She points out babies, kids, dogs, and birds everywhere we go, signing frantically until we say, "Yes, there's a baby." Or a bird or dog or whatever. Her eyes are sharp, too, so sometimes we think she's just making signs for a moment before we catch sight of the dog she's noticed across the street. And she recognizes the sounds of a dog barking, a baby crying, a bird chirping, and kids shouting, and will make her signs then, too.
I've found this age challenging. Some days I'm back to where I was a few months ago, wondering how on earth I'm going to survive her being two if this is what one is already like. Other days I even wonder how I'm going to make it until that evening when Brian gets home to help me. Last week she had her first real, public meltdown. It was at our mommy-baby yoga class, so there are worse places it could have happened, but it was still no fun. Adriana was still functioning on East Coast time and I wanted to her get back to normal, so instead of letting her nap when she wanted to, I hauled her off to yoga. Part way through class, in the middle of some sort of tantrum, she threw her water bottle, hitting another kid in the head with it. I took her out of the room to calm down for a bit, but it wasn't too much longer before the next tantrum began again, and I packed us up and left. She fell asleep as soon as I strapped her into her car seat. And now I've learned my lesson about not letting the baby sleep when she needs to. Over and over since she was born I've needed to be reminded to take my cues from her, to do what works, to not force things, to pick my battles carefully. It's challenging, and it's hard to remember to do when she's screaming and kicking, but then we get through those hard times and the easy times, the times where we snuggle and read stories, or run up and down a little hill at the park, are more frequent and make me think that this is the best time ever.