Monday, September 14, 2009

Pictures of You

Anybody out there ever had passport photos taken of their toddler? Can I borrow your ear for a moment and tell you that it is a NIGHTMARE to get a toddler to sit still for a fucking passport photo?

How about trying to do it at the local ghetto mall on a Sunday afternoon... with a hangover?

So here's the thing, I thought she'd just sit on the chair, stare blankly at the stranger with the flashing camera like she usually does when she's bored with my incessent photo-taken habit, and we'd be out of there after a few clicks.


They had to take about 2000 photos of Bella. Do you know what’s involved here in this passport photo business? Let me tell you. The baby can’t be smiling, crying, talking, moving or looking anywhere but directly at the camera lens. Their mouths must be closed, but not so closed that you can’t see the natural shape of their lower face. There can’t be any shadows behind their curly little heads of flouncy hair. You can’t see anything in the photo but their head and shoulders. This includes their arms and hands which means they need to keep them neatly at their sides while the photo is taken. They can’t be wearing white.

OH BUT WAIT… even if you finally get the shot, the one that fulfills all of the IMPOSSIBLE criteria, and causes the entire shop and the small crowd that’s gathered in the mall to watch this circus occur to break into loud applause, they will still go into the back room to look closer at the perfect picture and then come back out, head hung low with a sheepish grin, and tell you that the perfect shot that they thought they had will not work after all because HER LIPS ARE TOO SHINY.

I kid you not. Her juicy, perfect, glistening baby lips were too shiny. We had to de-shine our daughter’s lips.

But we finally got the shot. She's looking ever so slightly above the camera lens at the dangling set of keys that we were using to try to jingle-jangle her into some kind of a passport-photo-worthy trance. They assure me that they will reshoot the photo for free should it not be accepted. What they do not understand is that if it is not accepted I am going to go postal on the asses of everyone involved in the process. There won't be much need for international travel after that.

My own passport photo is truly hilarious because the expression on my face is 100 per cent indicative of the mood I was in while trying to suvive this particular parenting right of passage.

Survived it. And let me tell you something? We are going to be TRAVELLING OUR ASSES off now even if it puts us into a hole of debt so deep that we'll never again see the light of creditless day.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Happy Birthday to You: 19 Months Old

Dear Anabella,

A week ago you turned 19 months old. And this month I can officially say that you are no longer my baby and are officially my toddler. TODDLER. You toddle. You are in the toddler room at daycare. You talk. In sentences. Small sentences, but still! Talking. Like a human-being. And all of it, all of it is BLOWING MY MIND.

I think for some reason, deep in the back of my brain, I had this notion that maybe you were content to just stay my baby forever. That I'd be carrying you around and listening to your incoherent, yet incredibly endearing, coos and gurgles for the rest of time. Like maybe I'd be taking you to college, strapped firmly and securely in your car seat, wheeling you to classes in your stroller and listening with glee as you met your dorm mate by grabbing a fist full of her hair and enthusiastically saying, "Baaabababa," with a slobbery toothless smile. Guess what? NOT SO.

In fact you are going to grow up to be a grown up person who is growing and continues to grow. I recognize that this is the preferred course of action and that it's not really desireable to have a college student who is still a baby. So why did it take me 19 months to grasp this concept? I blame hormones.

So many fun things to report on this month, but first there's this. We transitioned you to the toddler room at your daycare this month. AND IT SUCKED. For two full weeks it sucked so badly. You clung to me and you screamed for me when I left you in the mornings and you were out of sorts and cranky when we brought you home at night. It lasted two weeks and I cried every day when I left you there and I cried most of the way to work and I cried at work. It is pretty safe to assume that I did more crying than you. Much more.

I should note that about a week and a half into your transition, you got bit on the face by another baby. And I mean BITTEN. And it set you back a few days. Not surprising really, just look what the little cannibal did to your face:

Then, we reached the two week mark and I dropped you off one morning, and instead of screaming and clinging to my legs, you waved at your friends, said, "Hi Duncan!" and walked into your new room without so much as a backward glance at me. And we all applauded and cheered for you! And then you know what happened? I cried again. Shocking.

You have settled in beautifully now and I know that you are happy there. I know that it's so good for you to be there and I am incredibly, tremendously, enormously proud of you.

Your move to the toddler room also proved to be exactly what you needed to encourage you to become a full time walker. You're on the move, Child! It's still a bit shocking for me to see you just stand up and walk, this may be another concept that's difficult for me to grasp. Do not be surprised if you are 16 years old and I suddenly turn to you and say, "Bella, did you just WALK OVER HERE?" I'm slow on the pick up. Deal with it.

As amazed as I am by this walking business, hands down, bar-none, the most amazing, entertaining, and mind boggling thing you do right now is talk. You just say stuff. Stuff that is actually in ENGLISH and makes sense. Stuff like, "Peees" (please) and "Taaake Oouuu!" (thank you). And sentences like, "More pips, peees" (more chips, please) and "No! Momo! No!"

I can listen to your words five zillion times and never, ever tire of hearing them. There really isn't much that you can't say now, as long as we remain open to interpretation. Among my favourites this month: Bubbles! Pickles! Anabella (which, by the way, you like to say in a strange Frankenstein-like voice)! And instead of Mama, you now say, "MummEEE?" Just like that, like it's a question every time. And every time I hear it? You guessed it. My heart explodes.

You can count to three. You can fetch stuff and bring it to me. You can brush your teeth (though you hate it) and you can distinguish between the pink hat and the orange hat. You love shoes. No wait, more emphasis required with this one, YOU LOVE SHOES. You will sit and play with a pair of shoes for an hour. I'm not kidding. You love Moet. You can throw and kick a ball. I'm turning 34 in a few days and I still can't do that very well. I hate to use the term 'soccer prodigy' so early on, but I will because do you know how much money a professional athlete can bring in?!

This is all a long winded way of saying, Anabella, I love all of you. I love who you are becoming. I love watching you grow. I love anticipating what might come tomorrow. I love how every day with you is like a little gift, just waiting to be unwrapped.

I love you,