I remember reading somewhere that the period from 18 to 22 months was a challenging age. That was reassuring to me at the time: I wasn't the only one struggling with how to parent my child at that age, and there was a light at the end of the tunnel. And it really was true. Around the time Adriana reached 22 months, things did seem remarkably easier. I feel that in the past few weeks we've reached another challenging age, and I am starting to wonder if these things go in four-month cycles. There are more days lately when I feel my patience wearing thin. I wonder if it's just me--am I not eating right, not getting enough sleep--or if it's something about Adriana. It's probably a little of both, although I think there's more of the latter. She's testing limits right now, and getting frustrated with them. She pours a cup of water on me--because she wants to see what will happen, because it might be funny, because she can--and then throws a tantrum when I refuse to give her the cup back. She puts on her shoes when I ask her to do so, and then kicks them off as we are about to head out the door, smiling her most charming smile as I grit my teeth because we needed to leave five minutes ago. They are nearly all just little things, but over the course of a day they start to add up and by Friday afternoons I am usually watching the clock, counting down until Brian gets home.
It's a good thing she's cute and clever to make up for her shenanigans. She gives me a tight-lipped smile, sticking out her chin, when she knows she's been mischievous. She bounces and moves from side to side very solemnly when we ask her to dance. She throws kisses to people when she says goodbye. She knows nearly all of her letters (X is usually confused for a K), and shouts them out when she sees them. She surprised me by spelling out "Petsmart," reading the letters on the big sign out from the of store, although she did call attention to the 'A' several times as she went along--it is her letter after all. She recognizes numbers and will point to the one you ask her to, but she doesn't label them the way she does letters, instead just pointing them out as "number" when she sees them.
She talks constantly. It's not exactly that I wish she would stop talking, although the thought has crossed my mind when I've heard, "Mom, now!" a few too many times in one afternoon. Even though she likes to have what she says repeated back to her, she is usually content to babble to herself, and that's what she does as she rides on the back of my bike or in the car, and when she is drawing or playing with blocks on her own. She labels everything--"blue car, white car, purple truck," she says as we walk through a parking lot--but she is also really beginning to speak in sentences now, more than just the three- or four-word commands she's become an expert on. "I put my new shoes on my feet," she told me a couple of weeks ago, and when I looked she had indeed put her new sneakers on. Each word is it's own exclamation, so instead of a natural sounding sentence, there's a very staccato feeling, but she is very excited to be telling me everything, so it is fun.
I've been particularly interested lately in watching her friendships develop. At this age they are mostly too young for anything beyond parallel play and fighting over toys, but she does take an interest in what the other children in playgroup are doing. And they do interact beyond the little squabbles: she runs to greet her friend Samantha with a hug when she spots her at the park, and when her friend Douglas comes over to play they go straight for her bed, where the alternate between jumping and snuggling down to pretend they are sleeping.
She seems so grown up these days. Part of it is that she's just getting big. Her pants all seem a little too short, and she outgrew her shoes rather suddenly a few weeks ago. She fell asleep in the car on the way home one day recently, and as I carried her snoring up the stairs, I realized that even with her head resting on my shoulder her feet were dangling all the way to my knees. But it's also her personality. She remembers more things, and talks to me about the things we've done. She gets herself out of bed after her nap a lot of the time, instead of crying for me. There are times I miss having her as a baby, but this imaginative, funny little girl is a pretty good replacement.