For forty-five minutes once a week, things are fantastic. I mean, things are pretty good most of the time, but this month Adriana started a toddler gymnastics class, and for the forty-five minutes we are there, we are essentially in the proverbial padded room. She climbs and slides and bounces and balances, and if she falls she will land on something soft. It is still my instinct when I see her start to fall to reach out to catch her, of course, but the other day I just slowed her fall and let her tumble gentle from the structure she was climbing from to the mat. She rolled over, pushed herself to her feet, caught sight of a tunnel to crawl through, and headed off towards it. I felt a little funny signing her up for gymnastics. I mean, classes? At one and a half? And the last class we tried out didn't go so well. But at this age the class has no structure--it's just free play in a padded room, and the teacher will give individual instruction if we ask--and Adriana is clearly having fun. She runs in circles on the big trampoline, falling and picking herself back up, over and over again. She holds my hand and concentrates as she puts one foot carefully in front of the other on the balance beam. She does her funny, floppy somersaults uphill on the wedge-shaped mats. And she hides behind my legs and peeks out at Teacher Russ if he tries to talk to her (although at the end of class, when he gets out an ink pad to give each kid an animal stamp on their hand, she runs to him and holds out both arms for stamps).
Adriana is a pretty flexible kid when it comes to the schedule and pattern of our days, but I am discovering that she likes other things a certain way. Before she get in her high chair to eat, she likes to have her monkey, panda, and baby all lined up to watch her. If I don't close a drawer or cupboard in the kitchen completely, she'll run to close it for me, or, if she's trapped in her high chair, whine and point until I do it. When she catches me without my glasses on she'll sign for glasses and point to them until I put them on again. If water splashes on the floor while I'm doing dishes, she'll get a towel to wipe it up.
It's fun to notice the things she has figured out. These days she knows all about getting ready. If she joins me in the bathroom after I shower, she points to the deodorant and motions as though she is putting it on, then indicates the lotion bottle, knowing the routine. After I've dried her off after her bath, she spreads out the towel on the floor and lies down for me to put a diaper on her. Her grandma had gotten out a baby silverware set when we visited last week, and Adriana picked up the pusher and immediately pulled it along her cheek, since it looked to her like one of her daddy's razors.
She wants to do everything I do. If I am on the phone, she goes to get hers. When I get out the vacuum, she follows me around with her popper. When I fold laundry, she takes clothes and towels out of the basket and hands them to me, one by one. She follows me around and inspects all the plants that are at her level when I am watering them.
She has become a better eater, but it still surprises me when she eats an entire banana or gobbles up the potato salad I just put on her plate and then demands more. One of her favorite foods is strawberries, which she demands whenever she sees me slicing them up for my cereal. I am more than happy to feed them to her, because although she eats dinner every day and lunch most days, in the mornings she doesn't eat much. I suppose it's because she nurses as she wakes up, or because she is too busy watching Brian get ready for work and checking out all her toys (sometimes it seems as if she is surprised they are still there). This past week, though, she hasn't eaten nearly as much. Instead, she is nursing--often and for long periods of time. I keep blaming the heat, since I often don't want to each much in the 90-degree weather we've been having, even though that seems a bit weird, since warm milk and snuggling don't seem that appealing in the middle of a heat wave either. Whatever it is, it makes me hungry and thirsty to be nursing so much, even if it is hot, which is totally why I need so much ice cream and lemonade.
Signing is definitely Adriana's language of choice. She hasn't added any actual words in the last month, but she has over 50 signs now, and they seem...unconscious: one night when we were in Colorado, Brian and I both woke up and watched Adriana as she squirmed and cried between us, signing "ball" with her eyes closed. This morning as she woke up, she signed "toothbrush please," and then she nursed and fell back to sleep.
Everything seems so adorable. She walks on tiptoe and gives kisses to her reflection in the mirror (also high fives and terrorist fist jabs) and dances to Ozomatli and Dan Zanes and Melissa Ferrick. If you hold her hand and ask her to spin, she'll go around in circles, but if she doesn't have a hand to hold, she just twists her body and shakes her head from side to side.
I still struggle a bit with parenting a toddler, but things are improving and I am starting to love this age. I can tell because when I sit down and think about what to write this month, it's all about gymnastics and funny faces and cute little moments. We're still dealing with early onset two-ness and what to do about the hitting, but those aren't the first things that come to mind.