Well, at least to the point of looking like someone going to school.
Or someone snagging the car keys and taking off without permission.
I’m realizing that being sad as Margaret grows out of baby things is, in my current condition, dumb.
But on Sunday, she took what I think will probably be her last nap on top of mommy for a while.
It was very snuggly and sweet. And probably terribly, horribly bad for discipline as we try to train her to take naps in her own bed without tearing the place apart. But sweet and snuggly.
Ron has figured out the way to Margaret’s heart.
Luckily, for those of you who were hoping to worm your way into her good graces, it’s fairly easy. All you need are a variety of electronic devices.
She may start off eyeing you suspiciously, as in the above photo, but as she realizes that you have all kinds of toys, and you’re going to let her play with them, her look will turn to this
and finally this.
It just requires an expensive phone and tablet device. And a willingness to put them in the grubby fingers of a toddler.
Margaret got a stove and dishes and food for Christmas, and this has set off a mania for cooking and feeding people.* It is specifically a fixation with cooking and serving soup to those people she deems appropriately receptive. The other night, she refused to serve Leo any imaginary soup because of some nameless transgression of his.
She has also developed a fixation with a series of penguins.
There are, according to Margaret, a daddy penguin (enormous), a mommy penguin (medium), and a Margaret penguin (small). I see that in the next few days, I need** to find either a very small penguin, or one between medium and enormous. So large.
When she brings these two fixations together (which happens fairly often) she feeds the penguins.
She also does this without any clothes on, which makes it a little weirder, but who among us hasn’t hosted a naked dinner party for a penguin which was bigger than ourselves?
*There’s definitely something wrong with that. She doesn’t cook people, as far as I know, but I figure that taking time to fix the sentence will eat up more time than I have, since I am writing this while Margaret plays, and she may at any moment decide that I need to stop. Of course, I’ve wasted all this time writing a footnote, so I might as well have fixed the first sentence, but going back is just throwing good moments after bad, and there’s no reason to do that, now is there?
**We’re using a somewhat specialized definition of “need” here.
So Margaret has begun to get interested in music with pictures attached, and so I have been showing her clips of musicals occasionally.
And yesterday, I showed her the opening song from Hello Dolly!, and I think that she took the message to heart.
At least, she’s been demanding things be done her way, and she has been arranging furniture.
[Here is the second introductory part of the story. You kind of need both halves to make it make sense]
Margaret has also been getting very excited about her room. We have moved in a chest of drawers, so she can’t get at her clothes, and we removed pretty much everything else except the bed, and, of course, her ENORMOUS BEAR.
The problem is that she really likes playing in her room (which means taking her stuffed animals off the bed and putting them on the floor, and then putting them back on the bed and admonishing them to “sit down on bedge.” Not that she hears that any too often, of course.
But she wants me to play with her. And the bed has rails around it, so it’s not precisely easy to get in and out of, or comfortable to sit on when one is in it. So I have to sit on the floor, which is a position which in my current condition is NOT COMFORTABLE. Also, getting up is a bit tricky, since I am, as discussed previously, bearing a striking resemblance to a lumbering watercraft.
The solution was to put a chair in her room. So this morning, I maneuvered it down the stairs, pushed it into her room, put the cushions on it, and collapsed into it.
Margaret came over, pulled on my arm, and said “Out. Mamat room. Mamat chair.” And then suggested that I move the thing over a few feet.
Sorry for the quality of the picture. I was taking it quickly.
Margaret is reading up a storm. Last night, while we were changing her diaper for bed, she was saying “Don’t garden; father pie” which is her synopsis of the salient points of Peter Rabbit.* Sometimes, though, this fascination becomes a problem.
Coming in from the car the other day, she was reading her book, you know, like you do.
When she ran into an obstacle – the stairs.
She stopped short.***
She stared into the middle distance, before turning to me for help.
It’s really all very cute, if a little nerve-wracking, since I don’t want either Margaret or the books to sustain any damage. Particularly since the Beatrix Potter books are briefly out of print at the moment. The publisher is retouching the illustrations or something and rereleasing them slowly. You know, to build up excitement. Which is why I got an email from Amazon announcing Beatrix Potter’s NEW BOOK. The Tale of Jeremy Fisher. Humph.
*The exact** quotation is “Don’t go into Mr. Macgregor’s garden. Your father had an accident there; he was put into a pie by Mrs. Macgregor.”
**Well, as far as I can remember, and I don’t want to get up and go get the book, because it will remind Margaret that I am here, and she will want me to read the book, and then you won’t get a new post, which you wouldn’t like, would you?
*** But only compared to adults. Compared to other 2-year-olds, she’s quite tall, actually.
Margaret has been anti-pants lately. She’s been both very interested in dresses, and also interested in wearing nothing on her legs. The other night, she told me that her plan for the evening was “Daddy a work [get Daddy from work], drive home, pants off, dance.” This isn’t such a bad plan, honestly. I mean, I frequently want to go home, change into comfortable pants, and listen to music, but all Margaret’s pants are comfortable, so I’m not sure why the desire to run around in nothing but a diaper.
Actually, I lie. Sometimes she does want something other than a diaper.
You know, like a hat.
Or a pair of heels.
Which go nicely with the Winnie-the-Pooh logo on her diaper.
Since switching Margaret’s car seat around to it’s forward-facing position, I have had to cope with the fact that she is far more interested in the mechanics of driving than she was when she couldn’t see them.
I suppose that this is hardly surprising, really.
Anyway, she has begun to give me advice about my driving, like excitedly shouted instructions such as “Yight, Mommy! Go, go, go!” When I point out that red lights mean stop, she nods and says sagely “geen go.”
She has also developed a deep love of driving by herself. Of course, she understands driving to be a somewhat different process than the rest of us might consider it. In her mind, it tends to involve adjusting the mirrors
and honking the horn.
But that’s really most of the fun anyway, isn’t it? She also likes turning on the hazard lights, but all the pictures of that were exceptionally blurry.
Or “Someone in this house buys the clothes and is stuck in a rut.” Though I would like to point out that I am not actually trying to dress my husband and my daughter in matching clothing, but sometimes it works out that way.*
Anyway, Margaret is big into building with blocks, though she likes tall towers, and so sometimes prefers to take a more supervisory role.
And she’s discovered that on the weekends, her father is a somewhat easy mark for block building.**
This makes her happy.
But sometimes she gets a little too bossy, and starts interfering with his vision of a tower that has blocks in it
and the whole thing devolves into roughhousing
with snuggles at the end.
*My daughter, however, certainly is. She has discovered that she is the proud owner of a “hat-shirt,” or hooded sweatshirt, to those of you who don’t speak Margaret, and has begun to demand that she be allowed to wear it, and that Leo and I wear our hooded sweatshirts as well. She’s very certain that either we should all have them on, or no one should have them on. What she’s going to do when she realizes that the baby has no hatshirt, I shudder to think, I really do.
** I do a decent amount of it myself, but in my current nebulously barge-shaped condition, hanging out on the floor is less fun than you would think.
I feel that I am beginning to resemble a barge. And not a sleek, easy-to-manage barge, but rather one which needs a lot of steering and horsepower and at this point my lack of knowledge as to how barges actually work is becoming a problem. I sort of have in my head, from overexposure to nineteenth-century British children’s literature, that barges are pulled up and down locks by horses, but I’m almost certain that that information is out of date. At any rate, I am beginning to feel like a large and unwieldy watercraft.
Margaret is being reasonably obliging. I mean, she prefers to be carried, but she is willing to walk in on her own from the car, and yesterday, when I was bringing some groceries in, she showed herself to be a very helpful person.
Unfortunately, the end of this helpfulness was to chuck the bag of potstickers down the stairs, but she started off on the right foot, so that’s something, certainly.
I’ve started teaching a literature class, which has completely revolutionized Margaret’s world. She’s very used to me reading things, but I tend to read on my kindle, or my computer, or my kindle app for my phone, so she doesn’t recognize what I’m doing as reading books.
But when I am teaching, I like to scribble notes to myself in the books, to remind myself of important things in the text (and to make it easier to find useful quotations in class, because it makes me look so much more knowledgeable). This has led to a number of mornings where I sit in the living room and read books while Margaret plays.
Which means that Margaret has gotten interested in my books.
Of course, she – like every other person who reads Sir Gawain and the Green Knight – has to make a choice between original text and translation.
She opted for the original text.
And so she began reading.
Also, when she finds them on the floor or on the table or in my bag or on a shelf, she picks them up and brings them to me, saying “Mommy book.” This is good, because since she learned that she has a name – “Marmar,” but with very swallowed Rs, so it sounds suspiciously like Mama, which is what she calls her grandmother, not to be confused with Mommy, which is me – she has been trotting around the world naming things and attaching herself to them. Marmar has milk and chairs and stuffed animals and all sorts of things that belong to her.
Margaret has been developing certain sartorial habits which I find difficult to approve. For example, a few weeks ago, I was putting a red shirt on her, and she said “No. Pink shirt. On.”
Inside, I died a little.
It’s not that I have anything against pink.* What I do object to is the theory that little girls must wear pink at every moment of every day as long as they live. And that said pink attire must be emblazoned with slogans to which I object. Gymboree’s mistake in that department caused me to consider trying to get one of my more artistic friends to cooperate to design a line of girls t-shirts that don’t buy into the idea that girls are supposed to be ornamental and nothing else.**
Anyway, imagine my chagrin when Margaret learned to identify pink, and then to demand it.
And then the other morning, she not only got a pink shirt – well, pink-ish – but she decided to dress her jeans up with a pair of heels.
Luckily, she was tippy enough in the shoes that she had to walk slowly, and I got a picture.
And then, just to add a final straw to my camelious back***, I tried to get her interested in putting lotion on her poor, dry skin by letting her see that I do it when I wear makeup, and now she’s taken to demanding that I put on makeup. There’s nothing more depressing than getting beauty tips from a toddler. Particularly ones that are more or less justified.
*All right, I do. I don’t really like it and I never have. But I have no objection to other people wearing it. My mother wears it all the time, and I still speak to her. Most of the time.
**Allie, if you see this and you’re interested, give me a call. I've got another possible collaborative project as well. And yes, I could send an email or call or something, but I’m writing this now and thinking of it, and I’m having a baby in the next month, which causes me to be both busy and scatterbrained.
***I know, my hump is on the wrong side, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t feel like a camel. Just now, it crossed my mind that I should be organizing baby clothes instead of writing blog posts for you, and I looked that thought firmly in the eye and said “humph” to it.
I think that Margaret has either inherited her grandfather’s complete lack of tastebuds* or is a culinary innovator of some impressiveness.
We discussed, earlier this week, her penchant for making sandwiches out of pieces of wood. She has also begun making sandwiches with whatever she finds at hand in other contexts.
And she has, for the past few weeks, had a love affair with oranges. She prefers clementines, but she’ll eat any orange. And she’ll ask for it by name. Previously, her word for orange was “oh-no,” which invested the whole eating process with an air of impending doom. Recently, however, she has learned to enunciate a little more, and now she asks for an “oranCH.” So our breakfasts for quite some time have consisted of “oranCHes” and also some bread and butter. Margaret would be content with just the butter, but I like her to have the bread for the look of the thing.**
Anyway, the other morning, she got inventive.
I can only assume that this is her low(er)-fat, sugar-free version of the classic Nell Gwynn’s Buttered Oranges. And while I am, of course, impressed that she is innovating classic English dessert recipes***, I’m not sure that Nell Gwynn is an appropriate role model for my daughter. On the one hand, I would like her to be pioneering and feminist and all those things, so Nell Gwynn’s position as one of the first English actresses is laudable. On the other hand, I really don’t want her to be the mistress of the King of England.
On the bright side, she thought that she had made an orange sandwich (or “oranCH sanniCH,” if you prefer the original pronunciation), so perhaps my worries are unfounded.
*Maternal grandfather, and those of you who haven’t eaten things that he cooks may think I’m being needlessly cruel, but those of you who have know that the sort of man who is willing to mix plain yogurt and the leavings from a dill pickle jar, and call it salad dressing, or sauté tuna fish and salsa and make children eat it for breakfast is a man whose tastebuds were clearly shot off in the war.
**On mornings when the butter comes from the fridge, and so is hard, she just peels it off the bread and eats it in chunks. She then eats the bread, but I still feel there’s something a little off in this performance. And when the butter is soft, she licks the butter off the bread first, and then eats the bread.
***For those of you who haven’t had this delightful treat, it is essentially an orange-flavored mousse that is made with some butter to replace some of the cream one would use in chocolate mousse. It’s quite nice, if you ignore the fact that you’re eating orange juice mixed with butter.
Margaret is a child who understands the importance of keeping on the good side of people.
Now most of you, who have met my mother, and think that she’s a kind, sweet, wonderful person, might not see the importance of keeping on her good side.
And I say that that is because most of you have not crossed her. I mean, she spends most of her time being nice and kind and sweet and wonderful, and collecting waifs and strays and taking them to church and feeding them and looking after her grandchildren.
But every so often – not very often, but occasionally – when someone has done something terrible,* my mother can transform herself into a giant, fire-breathing, three-headed dragon.
Margaret, though she has never seen this occur, is a very perceptive child, and so no doubt understands the peril in which she stands if she were to go into bad umpiring. Or neglect to express proper appreciation for presents that her Nana sent her.
Which brings us, in a roundabout and long-winded sort of a way, to the subject of this post: Margaret’s Nana blanket.
For Christmas, my mother knitted her fingers to the bone, and made each of us a blanket.** They are really nice. Margaret, in particular, demands hers every night.*** (Incidentally, as another additional part of this story, I got a comfy rocking chair for Christmas. This will help those of you who keep track of what furniture belongs in our living room. I know most of you do that. Because we’re that interesting).
She likes to have her Nana blanket and rock. And she likes to have her daddy sit with her and read her a book about the steps that the bunny from Pat the Bunny takes as he prepares for bed.
And then she likes to come to the couch, read Goodnight Moon with both of us, and be carried off to bed with her twenty-seven books, her four favored stuffed animals, and now her Nana blanket.
Also, if you pay attention to the sleepers, you can see that these pictures were taken on different nights, so although I do a reasonable amount of embellishment in these posts – I don’t, for example, think that Margaret actually knows the etymology of the word manger – I have not embellished this narrative at all.****
*If, for example, an umpire were to have the temerity to call a third strike on Ben. You know, offenses of that magnitude.
** Which we each appreciate greatly, although I hold that Leo’s is proportionally larger than mine. But I like to complain. Besides, mine matches Margaret’s, which is cooler than being larger. So humph.
***Leo uses his every night too, though he hasn’t gotten into the habit of screaming “Nana blanket! Nana blanket” before bed. He might, however, were we to arrange his life so that he had no control over his bedding. It would be an interesting experience.
****Well, I may have exaggerated a little about the whole transforming into a dragon thing, but not much.
Over Christmas, Margaret met (well, met again. But she didn’t really remember it from the last time, so I think it counts as met) her second cousin Conor.
She thought this was pretty cool. We were talking him up, so before she met him, we went on Facebook and looked at pictures of him, and she learned to say his name. He’s five, so he probably doesn’t appreciate that this is a rather impressive compliment she paid him.
Anyway, the first place we went with him was a model train exhibition.
He was completely enthralled.
Margaret was less impressed.
Margaret went home a little early, as the three adults she had brought with her were not up to chasing her down.
The second time they got together, however, we picked a more congenial atmosphere for Margaret. The zoo is a little less dependent on an interest in trains.
The Children’s Zoo has some really interesting exhibits, some cool animals, and also a toy jeep. So they hung out in the toy jeep.
But Margaret was very polite. She let Conor drive (which was good, because I think he would have been offended had she insisted on taking the wheel), and listened very intently as he explained things like shifting and how radios worked.
And she only looked bored with his unceasing flow of transportation-related facts when he was occupied with driving.
Margaret got a stove and a table for Christmas, and I realize that I have actually built her a very nice studio apartment in the far end of our living room. So really, she can move out anytime, provided she defines moving out as moving into the far end of the living room and continuing to sleep in her bed, since that is one thing we don’t have in that area.*
As part of the stove gift, she got a food set. It’s actually rather a clever set-up. There are slices of things that all attach to each other with velcro, so even a somewhat uncoordinated sandwich-stacker can achieve impressive results.
One slight hitch is that after she makes these sandwiches (and there are many sandwiches – or slices of pizza, which is a story for another day – made each day) she brings them to me so that I can sample them and give my opinion. But they’re made out of wood, which makes them less palatable than the cereal she throws on the floor during meals and then scavenges for me later in the day.**
Luckily, usually the comment “Margaret try it” has the desired result.
Now I’ve just got to figure out of chewing on blocks of wood is good or bad for her teeth.
*Speaking of moving out, she seems to have been watching Home Alone on the sly, and then thinking about it in her sleep, because when I went into her room last night, she had the moves down.
** She’s really very thoughtful, if a little unhygienic.