Thursday, January 5, 2012

Happy New Year

I always feel like I've been meaning to write for ages. I contemplated shutting down the blog because I feel guilty when I don't write, as if my silence might one day be interpreted by my muse as a loss of interest. Quite the opposite, Amari. Quite the opposite.

You are two years old now, and I feel as though our relationship is deepening all the time. I feel as though the hard work and commitment to consistent, disciplined, loving parenting is paying off. That's not to say I don't get frustrated sometimes - like when potty training seemed like a done deal and then took a few steps backward, or when the haunting "downstairs" saga continued on-off for the past few week - but when I do, when I grumble or fuss or complain, I always remind myself of all the amazing things you can do, the amazing things you do do, and the fact that you're only two years old now.

The potty training started on the early edge of the wide milestone window and I was super excited to be done with diapers. You seemed excited, too, getting stickers and treats and applause, and quickly becoming a very successful potty user. After a while, the novelty seemed to wear off, pooping presented its own challenges, and now we're still in diapers when we leave the house and some days your success rate is hit or miss. In talking with other parents I'm reminded not to have my own agenda. I usually remember this on a day-to-day basis - that the hardest days of parenting are when I try to make plans - but its nice to be reminded to keep the bird's-eye perspective.

As for the continuing episodes of "Downstairs: A Horror Story" it was a learning experience, a reminder that whichever style of parenting someone chooses there are going to be challenges, there are going to be benefits, and there are going to be consequences. Things also change, and the secret to successful parenting is adapting and adjusting to those changes. Routine is a part of our bedtime ritual. Some of the difficult nights that routine was interrupted for one reason or another. Other nights, it was identical, which led us to making some changes - beginning to wind down in the living room before we transition upstairs. So far, the last three nights have been perfect - no fuss about going to bed, 1-2 stories, bottle, and asleep in less than thirty minutes. Tonight, in less than five.

So, hurdles become memories become information that may or may not ever be useful again. At least not to me.

During the days, Amari and spend a lot of time drawing. She's a huge fan, and if there were one thing I would say she might be slightly advanced in, it's her fine motor skills. She's drawing faces already, with relatively round circles. The arms and legs jut right out of the ears and the eyes, nose, and mouth are kind of Cubist in their arrangement, but she's definitely already a better artist than I'll ever be.

She's also just a sweet kid. That consistency of drilling in manners and responsibility has her surprising me when I say thank you and she says, "You're welcome, Daddy." What did you say, I'll ask. "You're welcome, Daddy." She also cleans up her stuff without asking, reminds me to do the same, and gets on my case when I don't hold my smoothie or iced coffee with both hands. When the seat belt noise goes on when I'm backing the car up, she makes sure I buckle up. And when I say, "Me, too," she says "Me three," and will go as high as six, but when I say seven, she'll say, "No, you five. The other night, however, in one of her delirious states, she was counting all the way to ten, something Carrie and I didn't know she could do, and would finish by saying, "eight, nine, ten, feeeeet," and then throw her feet into the air. By the third time she did it, Carrie and I couldn't contain our giggles. It was just ridiculous and cool.

I love watching her put the world together. I love watching her mix things up in a way just as endearing as hearing foreigners fumble with the English language. Trick or treat took the place of please for a short time after Halloween, but now that Christmas has come and gone, and the ritual of turning on all the lights was predicated with counting, Amari now thinks the magic word is "One, two, three."

Christmas was wonderful. Sweet. Quiet. Jacob and Olga came to visit. We had a delicious Christmas Eve Duck a la Granny C, and by Christmas morning Amari had been opening a present a night for over a week, so the last few presents didn't were just another day in the ritual. She didn't get all cracked out, but really appreciated each gift and stretched out the process into late morning. Here's a short video.

Now it's 2012 and although I have many intentions for the New Year - physical, spiritual, inter-personal - the ones I'll mention here have to do with parenting. Last year my intention was to have more play dates, more socializing for Amari, and I feel like I succeed, having as many as six parents over here on one occasion with a bunch of 1-2 year old's running around. This year, my intention is to do one new thing each week that will be novel and interesting to Amari even though they may not be interesting to me. This includes trips to different beaches, the harbor, toddler yoga (which we went to today), and anything else that might be fun.

That's all, I love the beginning of new years. I love the opportunity to begin anew, to recommit myself to the things that are working in my life, and to re-focus energy on the growth edges I may have been neglecting or become complacent with.

I love my life, I love my family, I love my friends, and I love my community.

Happy New Year.

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