My best Chloë-bear,
Superlatives! Exclamations! I don't even know how to start this letter, I'm so full of how wonderful you are and how much fun it is to be your mom. You are two years old, equal amounts baby and kid, your own marvelous amalgamation of wonder and learning and joy and frustration and almost frightening understanding. It's amazing watching you learn. I didn't know your dad and I knew this much, didn't know the world held so much until I started seeing you gather it all in.
You are so so so much more fun as a toddler than a baby. Which is not to say we didn't have good times before you were one; we did; but this last year has been many times more awesome, and just as full of transformation. You started out the year not quite walking, not quite talking. Now you climb out of your bed every morning, walk down the hall, and say, "Koë wake. Mama wake? Maia waking no. Daddy waking no." Sometimes you're wearing your green cotton bracelet, which I made for you because you wanted to wear green socks to bed all the time, which wasn't practical because you only have one pair and you already sleep so fiery hot that adding socks would probably have resulted in scorch marks on your bed. I love how you want things now, how you've developed opinions and desires. Admittedly your biggest desires are often for candy and ice cream, but I can't really blame you there.
One of your other big loves is water. You are such a water baby. Bathtime has slowly evolved from a bit of a trial to an enjoyable ritual. You love the bubble bath and your bath toys, even if you like to play with the water itself best. You have eleven duckies: First Ducky, Pirate Ducky, Camouflage/Devil Ducky, Grenadier Ducky, Mad Scientist Ducky, Cowboy Ducky, Rock Star Ducky, First Mate Ducky, Snowman Ducky #1, Snowman Ducky #2, and Reindeer Ducky. Recently you offered to give your sister First Ducky, but that didn't last long. You also have Scrubber Ducky, and have just recently started actually using it. It's marvelous how much you can do, and how much you want to. In just the last week or so you've started lying down in the water and consenting to be rinsed off with the showerhead, things that horrified you a month ago. We went to Kalahari, the water park, last month. You had a marvelous time--you're still talking about it--and it's gotten you to be more adventurous both with water and with slides. We put your own slide into your kiddie pool for your birthday, and while you were a little hesitant, especially before I got smart and put you into your life vest because your head kept going under water, you loved it. We bought you knockoff Crocs specifically so you could stomp in puddles after rainstorms, and though you're always a muddy mess afterward, you love it so much I adore taking you out to do it.
The other big love is your new sister, Maia, who's just about three months old now. I'm so very proud of how you've handled having a new sister. You've been a little jealous, certainly, but only a little. Otherwise you've been pleased to help fetch and carry diapers and onesies, to rock her in her carrier while we're getting ready to go out, to look at her in pictures, to help push her stroller. You try to help burp her after feedings. You love it when she grabs your thumb. You squalled when I pushed your hand away the other day because you had a rash and I didn't want it to spread to Maia. That same day I put her in the crib while you and I were in the bathroom using the potty, and you said, "Maia wait, Big Sister done on potty." I can't wait to see you being a big sister as Maia grows and becomes more fun to play with. (Also, having you two play with each other instead of separately demanding attention from us is going to be great.)
I love the way you talk. “Koë,” you call yourself. When I told you your full name recently, you repeated it: “Koë Eeja Nydah.” You say “Hee book hight bear?” and we read the book, right there. “Mama carry hoo down da dair?” you say, and I carry you downstairs (after correcting you by saying “Say 'Mama carry me.'”) “Koë ball down at bama makket no,” you say, and I agree that no, this time you didn't fall down at the farmer's market. I'm intrigued by the growing tenacity of your memory. Exasperated sometimes too, of course. You seem to remember the show you haven't seen since last Christmas. You surprised me the other day by commenting on how the snakes we saw at the zoo had moved. You got a set of “P.B. Bear” books recently, four titles, and for three of them you can say the real title with a reasonable amount of accuracy, but Fly Away Kite is “ducky book” because there are ducks in it, and ducks are probably your oldest love.
You have a large ("huge!" as you would say) vocabulary, and use it constantly. Every day it's a continual stream of narration: "Chloë wake up." "Chloë sit on potty." "Maia cry. Maia not happy." "Plane outside? Motorcycle outside?" (Please note: you are not getting a motorcycle anytime soon. Quit asking.) "Mama go work?" "Chloë stomp in puddles other day." I love how you can meaningfully answer questions now. If I ask you what you had for lunch, you can tell me: "Cheese, peas, mmm....strawberries." Or "Milk Os" (though I'm not sure you weren't just remembering breakfast on that one). Or your favorite, "Mac cheese." Your favorite foods are always said with a blissed-out inflection. If I give you a fruit snack you run to your dad and report, "Mama gave doop nack," in this ecstatic monotone on the level of "Mama is going to stay home and play blocks with me while my favorite show is going and tickle me and give piggyback rides AND feed me chocolate." Or, more simply, "Water park."
You love to jump and run and climb, and turn upside-downs and be tickled and rough-housed with. You just started to say "That tickles!" and you might have gotten it from your the utterly evil talking puppy, but it's cute nonetheless. Whenever we do something you like, you say "One more time?" which you've now shortened to "More time." And we tickle you or throw you over our shoulders one more time. And you say, "More time?" And we say "NO," or "Say 'again,'" or "Maybe later." But we usually do it one more time anyway. You're persuasive like that. By which I mean a lethal combination of cuteness and nagging.
You get frustrated easily, and scream a lot, and I don't really blame you. You want to do so much, and you haven't quite learned it all yet. But you're working on it. You obey us really well, all things considered, and you can understand what we say and try to take our suggestions. You can point out colors and numbers and letters, and animals and the sounds they make, and people you know, even some you've only seen in pictures. You're doing so well. I know you'll keep on learning and growing.
You watch your “shows” nearly every day, and while in the beginning you would narrate them, now you sit and watch, narrowly and solemnly. Sometimes you try to sing along, and your quiet attempts make my heart ache (in a good way). One of your favorites, “Classical Baby: The Dance Show,” has a jazz rendition of “Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy” that involves hippos doing household chores. It's not how I would have choreographed it, but you like it. You stare at it and at the end of the sequence, when the hippos are eating their homemade pizza and the daddy hippo suddenly throws up his arms and suds from their earlier encounter with the washing machine appear, you whisper, “Bubbahs,” and I'm always surprised that you sound so young while your perfect focus is so old. Or perhaps it's not. Heaven knows I don't have that kind of concentration. You bring that focus to almost everything you do now. It's a beautiful thing. You're a beautiful you. I'm not really afraid of the terrible twos, not yet anyway, not knowing how eager to please and happy to learn you are. I would say I expect you to get still more awesome next year, the way you did this year, but that's asking an awful lot. Even asking you to stay this awesome is asking a lot. But I bet you can do it, and I'm looking forward to it.