Last night was the first time you tried to run away from home. You were very upset with your mama and I because it was almost bed time, and we wouldn’t let you use your finger paints. You gave out a short little anguished cry — but only the length of a second or two. Then you marched with clear purpose to the front door and tried to push it open. I asked you where you were going and you replied with a succint-but-emphatic “out!” So I unlocked the door for you.
You made it about one step onto the porch when you turned back and said, very quietly to yourself, “But it’s cold,” and then “Papa, sweatshirt!” So I helped you put on your sweatshirt.
Once that second arm was through the final sleeve, your resolve returned and you strode back to the door. As your tiny hand pressed against it to start out on your own, I heard you mutter “Might get wet… better button up.” I helped you get the zipper on your sweatshirt pulled up so that, in the event your journeys took you to wetter climates, your Yo Gabba Gabba Foofa shirt would stay dry.
You returned to the front door one more time, noticably slower than the first two times, and turned to me to ask “Boots?” I pointed out that you already had sneakers on. You contemplated this for a good ten or fifteen seconds, looked at me, cocked your head slightly to the side and said “Color? Crayons?” That seemed like a reasonable compromise, so I helped you out of your sneakers and sweatshirt and took you to your drawing table.
I can’t believe how big you’ve gotten, especially compared to the last time I wrote one of these letters. A lot has happened in nine months. Nine months ago you were just beginning to master walking, now you’ve got a pretty good handle on running. “Hurry hurry hurry! Quick quick quick!” That’s what you yell as you’re running down the aisles of the grocery story with us at full-tilt.
As funny and energetic and outgoing as you can be, I still get really happy to see little bits and pieces of your introvert papa shining through in you. Every now and then you just get a little overwhelmed with it all. A few weeks ago, we were shopping and you had clearly had enough of us. You got up off of the bench that you and your mama were sharing, walked the ten feet to another bench, and just sat by yourself with your head hung down. Every now and then a stranger would come and sit by you, trying to make small talk, and you would high tail it back to your mama. But as soon as that bench was empty again, you went right back for it.
I really can’t believe how much fun you are these days. You’re just a little sponge, soaking up all the little things we do and things we say only to spring them back on us after a few days of thinking about them in that tiny little head of yours. Several times a day, one of us will catch you contemplating a drawing you’re working on saying something very adult like “Let’s see here,” or you’ll greet one of our friends who has come to visit by saying “Oh hi, I missed you!” It’s very sweet. And I know that someday you will learn to actually read, but I’m just enjoying the pretend “reading” you’re doing now.
If there’s one thing you really need to work on, little girl, it’s your negotiating skills. I’m not sure what your strategy is by asking me for “colate” (chocolate). “One colate, please? One?” You’ll insist. “One colate? Two?? Two colate please, thank you?” Sadly, though, this form of negotiation has proved effective more than once. So well done on that count.
Little Lu, I’m excited to see what this next year holds for you. I’m sure your vocabulary is going to continue to explode, you’ll continue to push your boundaries and our buttons, and I have every reason to believe there will be at least one more attempt to run away from home. Your mama and I will be there when it happens, ready to help you on with your sweatshirt and make sure you’ve got some string cheese in your pocket, and maybe try to convince you to just stay the night instead. You know, so you can get a fresh start in the morning.
Or maybe just draw instead.