I’ve set it in my mind that I’d write you a letter every month for the first hundred months of your life. It amazes me to realize we’re a quarter of the way there already.
You are now more or less capable of carrying on a conversation. This was brought home to me when circumstances required us to have dinner together at Mandina’s one night, just you and me. You were a fantastic dinner date and a great conversationalist.
Though you seem to have memorized your alphabet, numbers and counting still seem to be a bit of a challenge. Often when you see a group of like objects you will “count” them but your methodology is far from accurate. Your favorite sequence seems to be, “3, 5, 6, 7, 8.” I’ve been trying to teach you to start at one and count up from there. Yesterday I think I heard you count to four, on your own, unprompted, for the first time. Tonight you counted eight shells in a book. You are learning a lot every day.
You’ve also begun to differentiate more actively between boys and girls. Really, I’m surprised it’s taken you this long since our culture emphasizes these differences rather aggressively. For instance, most of your clothing advertises you’re a girl quite clearly through colors and other codes. (We haven’t bought any clothes for you, hardly, since our friends and family keep us well-supplied in that regard.) I’ve certainly noticed, since your birth, how gender plays such a primary role in how we classify people. We tend to categorize human beings as girls and boys and men and women, rather than simply as people. For example, I’m likely to say, “I saw a woman walking a dog this morning,” rather than “I saw a person walking a dog this morning.” We are constantly differentiating on the basis of sex, and so now you are learning to do that, which is to be expected, I suppose.
As you grow up you’ll have to contend with our heavily gendered world. I hope you’re happy being a girl. Personally I was very glad, somewhat relieved even, when we learned you would be female. I grew up male, of course, but I’ve always liked girls more. On the other hand, I’m not really a fan of all this girlie pink princess stuff that seems to be popular these days.
Let me see, what else have you done over the past month?
One night, while getting ready for your bath, you suddenly crouched down, said “On your mark, set, go!” and then ran down the hall. You repeated this a good twenty times. I had no idea where you picked that up. Of course, it turned out to be day care. Later I realized this was the longest phrase I’d heard you say. Since then your grammatical abilities have ramped up, and you utter fully formed sentences on a routine basis. Your diction is not always immediately comprehensible. One overcast night you pointed out the window and said, “Sissa moon bind tloud.” It took me a while to translate: “Sister moon is behind a cloud.”
However, you can say “semicircle” with relative clarity. You even know what it means.
You’ve begun to issue requests for specific songs at bedtime. I believe you may be the first toddler in history to request “The Frozen Ones” by Ultravox for a lullaby. Certainly you’re the first to ask for “I Am a Pilgrim” afterward.
When asked, you will deny being a “little baby” anymore, except when you’re in a certain mood. Most of the time you’ll insist that you’re a “big girl.” One night I was singing you a popular lullaby that ends with the lines:
And if that horse and cart fall down
You’ll still be the sweetest baby in town
You took exception to this verse. “Big girl!” So I sang it again and changed the words:
And if that horse and cart fall down
You’ll still be the sweetest big girl in town
You liked that a lot. In fact, you still squeal with delight every time I sing it.
We had to have Folds put to sleep a couple weeks ago. I explained it all to you, but I’m not sure how much you understood. Death is not a completely alien concept to you, though. It comes up from time to time. For example, we saw a dead frog on the street a while ago, and you asked about it. But as for Folds, she’s just not around any longer, and I don’t think you have taken much notice.
I am starting to think the vernal equinox may develop into a very special day for you, given your namesake. This year we planted a pomegranate tree. I wonder what we’ll do to celebrate next year?