Sunday, April 3, 2011

Closing Out Winter

That was fun, after a few months, to glance back at the last post, when I dreamed that sleep trouble was over. Not so. Enthusiasm over toddler camp-out waned after a few days, and Phoebe is famous for saying things like "I don't want a sticker, I want you to stay in my room." After a few weeks of resolutely avoiding parents in Phoebe's bed or Phoebe in ours, we were completely blurry-eyed, like parents of a newborn. We caved. Bedtimes now almost always have tears, with some nights worse than others. Miranda usually gets excused from her bed and allowed to climb into the quiet of the master bedroom while Phoebe cries herself to sleep with parent sitting quietly nearby in the dark. When all is quiet, we carry Miranda back to her own bed. Then when Phoebe wakes up for the first time, we carry her into our bed. It's a big game of Musical Beds. And back to co-sleeping. Somehow it seems that this current plan-- in place for about two months now-- maximizes the family sleep and minimizes the pain. We figure that before she goes to the senior prom, she'll come around. In the meantime, we'll do what works.

Phoebe was quite proud to turn three years old. While I thought the girls would be thrilled to be the same age for a few months, Miranda quickly moved into saying she is "three and a half" while Phoebe announces that she is "just three" when she is asked her age. We tried instituting some rules about being three-- for example, that three year olds don't sit on their parents' laps at mealtime, but Phoebe was so upset by this that we let it slide. In the last few months, I've started to see Phoebe as more needy than I thought she was. In the mornings, she wakes up grouchy, except for the rare days when she says with a smile, "I woke up happy today!" Often she asks for the Ergo while I putter around the kitchen and make coffee in my bathrobe. She often whines and cries, and requires constant instruction to ask again in with kindness, respect, and good manners." Was she always like this? Is it me who has become more sensitive to the negative things? Or it this just a phase, age 3.1? Maybe some of it is that for many months, I considered Phoebe's mood swings part of the normal adoption adjustment that she would grow out of once she was securely attached. Now I know that Phoebe is securely attached. It's just personality. She's moody. She pouts and whines, and then, in an instant, she decides that she's happy again (and charming!) and carries on like nothing happened. I just hope that as she gets older she notices that the world enjoys the happy Phoebe, but does not respond so well to the grouchy Phoebe. (In the meantime, I welcome advice and suggestions, friends!)

When I griped recently to Mark about "When can we just be normal?" he reminded me, wisely, that "We signed up for this. And really, we signed up for a lot worse than this." He's right. Phoebe, in her delightful moments, really is delightful. She has only recently started to look into my eyes when she is in feeling playful and cuddly to say spontaneously, "I love you soooo much." We recently went ot the doctor for her three year old check-up, and she charmed the whole place. The nurse called her name and Phoebe pranced right through the door independently and confidently, announced "I don't want any shots" instead of saying hello, and blew right by her. She peppered the doctor with questions and observations. "I don't have that kind of computer at home. Why do you have a small computer?" My favorite moment was when the doctor washed his hands and Phoebe warned him, "Be careful-- don't get your sleeves wet." Then when he took 3 paper towels she said, "Why did you take 3? I only take one." I was glad she didn't add her usual, "It's not good for the Earth!" He reasoned, good naturedly, "My hands are bigger than yours," to which Phoebe replied with a smile and a wrinkled nose, "Oh, yeah." She really got a kick out of knee reflexes (pardon the pun), and talked for days about how he made her knee jump with a hammer.

Phoebe now lags half an inch behind Miranda in height and half a pound in weight, and their shoe size is exactly the same. My "artificial twins." Still, the age difference has not yet dissolved. Miranda plays all sorts of word games with us that Phoebe can't keep up with at all. (Say, "Doghouse." "Doghouse!" "Now say it again without the house." "Dog!") At playdates, Phoebe plays if the little friend is from Toddler House in school, but if it is a big four year old from Children's House, she still hides in my arms. Miranda is working on maps of Africa, sounding out words, and planning for being the snack girl "next Thursday, the day after tomorrow." Miranda plays the Mystery Game with us at home, putting an object under a blanket and giving us clues to help us guess. Phoebe hides the object and, with a twinkle in her eye, gives us a clue like "It's a purple notebook!" The nine month different is really delightful, in one way, because it is a constant reminder of how quickly children grow up, and how much they learn. At the same time, I feel a bit sad for Phoebe, since part of me always wants her to catch up to her sister instead of staying little.

Miranda continues to be incredibly generous. One day Miranda asked me, "Where does Phoebe sleep?" I braced myself, sure that Miranda would want into our bed too once she realized that's where Phoebe gets to sleep. I explained that Phoebe gets scared in the middle of the night, so we let her sleep with us. Miranda's response? "Maybe when we get a little bit older so we don't bonk heads we can push our beds together, and then when Phoebe wakes up scared in the middle of the night I can just reach out my hand and touch her and say 'Sh, sh, sh.'" Sometimes we have to be very firm with Miranda to tell her, "You absolutely do not have to give that up. It's yours and you are playing with it right now. Phoebe can have it when you are done." And too often Miranda, with complete sincerity, says "That's okay. I'm done with it now." Should be interesting to see how this plays out when the girls are older.

After a long winter of snow, bring on the spring!