Friday, September 11, 2015


Knowing an item's proper name is almost as important to her as knowing it belongs to her...a small chair, fitting for no one to use except her small frame, fits this bill perfectly. I am not looking forward to the day her brother learns to claim things for himself; she will not be thrilled with the competition.

I'm not sure when she learned how to respond to the question, but at some point this summer she determined the answer people were looking for when they asked her "What's your name?" Around the same time she discovered that everything has a name. Everything.

"Stop sign"
"Seat belt"
"Door handle"
"Rearview mirror"
"Exhaust pipe"

"What's this called?" she repeats over and over and over. The construction equipment around town needs a proper name; the different types of dinosaurs in the orange plastic container from Uncle Josh need a name; the metal pieces that hold up the railing along our stairs need a name. 

"Sewing Machine"
"Rotary Cutter"
"Sewing Machine"

It can be a bit embarrassing at times when a new person walks in the room and she loudly proclaims, pointing at the human that now stands before her, "What's that called?" She doesn't want to know their gender--she will happily tell you that if you ask--she wants a name. And she will repeat it to herself ad nauseum once she knows it.

"Toilet bowl cleaner"
"Toilet brush"
"Toilet seat"

At the end of the day, when I'm hoping for peace and quiet and she is still moving full speed I find it challenging to answer these requests patiently, especially as they circle around to the same items repeatedly because she has forgotten what I told her the first time. Other times she shocks me by naming an item we haven't seen (or discussed) for weeks. She remembers more than she forgets, a trait I envy at times and condemn at others. 

"Tea cup"
"Tea pot"
"Sugar bowl"

She is in tune with so much these days: the rhythm she has come to count on with our schedule, the items she expects to eat at regular meals based on frequency, the meanings of the different noises her brother makes, the probable location we are headed based on the route we are driving in the car. 

"I need food", she declared this morning, almost an hour before we typically eat lunch. "I need breakfast, a banana," she added to amend her initial request. Now that she can communicate, she regularly tries her hand at negotiation, requesting "one more time" with an item she is not ready to put away, "one second" for an action she is not ready to quit. We realize the phrases we speak without thinking because she repeats them back to us--over and over and over again.

When you become a parent, people warn you of the challenges you will face. What you don't understand initially is how these little people will wear you down. It's not just that they don't sleep--it's that they don't sleep for months. It's not that they throw fits when they don't get their way, it's that they do it over and over and over again. Even when you don't give in to their whims, even when you make it clear that you are the boss, they continue to try---for days, and weeks, and sometimes months. And if they don't wear you down with misbehavior, they may slowly drive you insane with the little questions asked all day, every day.

Yet, even as my husband and I high five over getting two kids to bed to close out another day, we spend the evening chuckling about the funny things our daughter said, the adorable grin flashed by our baby son, the hilarious chain of events that took place earlier in the day. And in that way, it is probably a gift that our memories are not quite as sharp these days: how quickly we forget the exasperating moments as they are overshadowed by the adorable. I am thankful for the short memory I have these days; I would rather start relatively fresh each morning. Perhaps the sleep deprivation is a gift, after all.

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