Note: If you want to read my post about Skittle’s big sister Cupcake, go here.
She’s a glorious 22 months old (nearly) now, but it’s so hard to describe a young toddler. To really capture who they are. Because they are a little bit of everything at this age. Unlike with Cupcake, who is almost five and whose core personality is probably shaped by now (or so the experts say), Skittle is still in the malleable phase of development. Everything she encounters and everything she does, every person who walks in and out of her life, is impacting who she is right now. She’s ever-changing and, at this point, it’s hard to know if the things she does/says/enjoys/etc are going to last beyond tomorrow. Is she like this because of her age or because this is who she truly is? I only have Cupcake to compare her to and, though they have proven to be complete opposites as one-year-olds, that’s still not much to go on.
But what I can tell you with great conviction is this: Skittle is the perfect moniker for her. Because she’s all sugar. So sweet, my teeth ache. Her favorite thing in the world are baby dolls, followed closely by babies (the real thing) and dogs (“Gog!” she will screech whenever she sees one, whether it be on TV or at the park or outside the car window or a stuffed animal at the toy store). And the tenderness with which she will wrap her dollies in a blanket and then rock them or feed them melts my heart every time. The other day, I loved watching as she tucked her “Toby” baby in with a pillow and a book and then gave him a kiss and hug before waving to him as she walked away and let him nap. She’s like that to just about everyone and everything. Everybody gets a kiss and hug before bedtime (or before saying good-bye, even if I’m just taking a shower or going out to get the mail), including the dog. It wasn’t long ago that Skittle went through a phase of not wanting many hugs or kisses, but that has since passed. She now loves to snuggle, especially when she gets hurt, or is sad (but never mad), and right before bedtime and right after naptime. When I’m putting her to bed, I will turn off the lights while rocking her in the chair and so sweetly she will say, “Mom mom” over and over again, looking into my eyes with all the trust and love and peace that her tender heart can hold. And lately, she’s been bringing me my Boppy pillow (which we haven’t used in eight months) and wanting to lie on that while I hold her in my lap like a baby. She’s absolutely full of cuddles right now (I wonder if she feels the changes happening in our home?) and I treasure it. And the love that she has for other people! At playgroups, I have seen her quite literally throw herself into the arms of mothers she has never met before. She will offer kisses when she hardly knows someone. And just a couple days ago, we had dinner with her nana (my Honey’s stepmom) and she was so full of hugs and smooches and giggles for her nana, even though we only see her about once each year and neither of my girls really know her at all. (Cupcake, on the other hand, made it very clear how much she did not like Nana that day.) Skittle’s lack of stranger anxiety is strange to me, but incredible as well. And if she sees someone cry, her first response is always, “Hug?” or even more, “Hug. Hug! Hug!” as she forces it upon the person in distress. Like I said, just pure sugar. So loving. So sweet.
And going hand-in-hand with all this sweetness…she’s a happy girl. Happy. Relaxed. Chill. Easy. Basically, the exact opposite of her sister. And while I do appreciate the unique brand of drama that Cupcake adds to my life, it’s nice to have a break from it too. Because for the most part, Skittle just goes with the flow and she always has, content to do just about anything as long as she has someone to do it with. She was the happiest, easiest baby in the world. An excellent sleeper and not giving me one bad day or night until well after her first birthday when she became very ill with Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease. She’s a breath of fresh air. And because she is so laid-back, it means that if we miss naptime or don’t get her to bed on time or can’t stick to our normal routine, it’s not the end of world. She just goes with it. It has made adding a second kid to our family so tremendously easy. I know…we’re lucky! (Please know that I really, really know this and am incredibly thankful for it and do not take it for granted.) We have yet to experience an epic tantrum with her and it’s hard to imagine, but even as she was in the thick of her worst eczema flare-up ever at around 8 months old (it was truly awful, head-to-toe, oozing and weeping wounds…I didn’t even know it could get that bad until it did), she was still my smiley girl. The fact that she was having some mildly fussy periods is actually one thing that propelled me to seek help because it was just so unlike her. And anytime we take her to the doctor (between her allergies, eczema, and regular check-ups, she sees many, many doctors), she just lets them poke and prod her without saying a single boo. She opens her mouth when they ask, stands still on the scale upon request, and lies down on the table as directed. It’s truly amazing, especially for this age. Unless she’s badly teething or sleeping somewhere new at night (a weird, out-of-character thing that makes her really, really not happy!), she’s calm. She’s happy. She’s joyful. That’s just who she is.
Skittle is also incredibly fearless. She will climb on anything — our kitchen table, a bookshelf, the monkey bars. She was going down “big girl slides” before she could walk. She is constantly flinging herself from our coffee table onto the sofa and jumping from our sofa ottoman onto the floor. “Splash!” she loves to say afterwards. Which is sort of ironic because the one place she isn’t fearless is in the water. She’s not a fan. Bathtime is fun. Pooltime is okay if I hold her the entire time and she doesn’t go above her waist. Lakes are only good for toe-dipping. And she wants nothing to do with the ocean. She’s no water baby, but on land she is a physical child who uses her body in amazing ways. She’s been doing somersaults (like real, textbook somersaults!) for months now and is always surprising us with the places she gets herself in to and on to. Because of this, she’s had nasty cuts, goose eggs, a black eye, and a smashed finger (that lost it’s fingernail a month later!) already. It’s rather frightening to be the mother of a kid who has no fear (and exhausting trying to keep up with her!), but I mostly try to stay out of her way, because there is so little that stops her and so much she is capable of doing if I only allow her to do it.
And she’s smart. Not in the she’s-not-yet-two-and-knows-the-name-of-every-president kind of way, but just in how much she absorbs from the world around her without us even trying to teach it to her. She knows words (what they mean, not how to say them) that I had no idea she knew until I speak them aloud and she finds a way to express that she knows what I’m saying. In fact, though her verbal skills are probably just average, the amount of things she can understand blows me away. I can give almost any direction to her, whether it be one step or five steps and easy or complicated, and she will follow through. And she uses that clever little brain of hers for frequent problem solving too. She is constantly coming up with unique ways to do things that I never saw her sister do at this age. Only have two hands and need to carry four or five objects? No problem! She’ll use both hands and her mouth, and then tuck whatever else needs to be carried under her chin, under her armpit, and between her chubby thighs if needed. And it’s been months now since she began pushing a chair over to the kitchen counter so she can help with cooking…or so she can play in the sink when she gets bored. We never taught her to do that. She just figured it out on her own.
She’s a busy, task-oriented little bee too! She always has “projects” that she’s working on, whether it be setting out her toy plastic plates and then matching the cups, bowls, and silverware to them (and then filling them with plastic food for “Mom Mom” and “Dad dad”), or lining up all of her sister’s small plastic animals on the coffee table, or making sure each one of her Little People get a turn on the swing. The amount of careful concentration with which she does things is astounding.
But for all of Skittle’s sweetness, she does have an occasional fierce side. That’s to say, she has a bit of a temper. She easily grows frustrated when something doesn’t work as she intends for it to, like when she can’t get one of Cupcake’s Calico Critters to stand up, or when the block doesn’t fit into the hole as she thinks it should, or when she’s unable to open up a container that she really wants to break into. And when she gets mad, things go flying. As in, she throws them. My husband always says, “Just like her mama” because it’s possible that I have been known to throw things too. And also like her mama, when she’s mad, Skittle does not want to be touched, or hugged, or comforted. Just leave her alone and she snaps out of it quickly (maybe much more so than her mama, ahem!).
But this isn’t all that Skittle is. So much other “stuff” goes into making up her true essence. Things like:
- She’s no delicate flower…more like a bulldozer. If you or anything else is in her way, she just plows on ahead with little regard to it. So watch your toes and computer and anything else in her path. Though I will say, it did amaze me just the other day with the quiet care that she spent sloooooowly walking to me as she carried a plate of toy food across the room. It never spilled and I was stunned.
- The most commonly used word to describe Skittle is “mellow.”
- She’s fascinated by her belly button and absentmindedly pulls at it all.day.long.
- She loves to look at the photos on the back of my camera. Whenever I take one of her, she cocks her head like a pup who is trying to make sense of what you’re saying and says, “Ah! Ah! Ah!” until I show her the photo I just took.
- Recently, she has become a terribly picky eater. She says “uck” to about 3/4 of what I offer her. Which is annoying enough on its own, but is even more troublesome for us because she already has a limited diet. Thanks to a multitude of food allergies, she has to avoid egg whites, dairy, and nuts (going to her allergist again soon and fingers are crossed that she has outgrown some of these!), so there’s already so much she can’t have! And now with the toddler pickiness setting in, foods that she once loved (grapes, toast, pureed fruits and veggies, rice and beans, and more) are now deemed as not worthy and it’s exhausting trying to find something she can and will eat.
- The one food she loves and will consistently chow down is hot dogs. (Yuck. I can’t stand them and, though I buy the best quality ones that I can get my hands on, I still shudder a bit at the thought of my kids eating them. But oh, well. Sometimes you just gotta let things go.) She requests them at every meal: “Hot dog? Hot dog! Hot DOG! Dip! Dip? HOT DOG! DIP! Hot dog?”
- This girl loves to eat. She’s constantly asking for food by pointing to her mouth and saying “Uh uh uh” (something new to me, since her sister really only started asking for food in the last year or so — I know, that’s weird too). Of course, once offered to her, half of it is rejected. BUT! If you can find that right thing — that “num num” thing — she will eat and eat and eat. I think, at a recent family reunion, she ate nearly a whole box of Wheat Thins on her own. I normally try to encourage healthier foods, but there are times (like around family, who are eating the same things) when you just have to say “Whatever.”
- She randomly licks things. Like my foot. Or a library book. Or the dirty window. I know. My children are gross.
- She loves to run from me at bedtime, giggling as she hides in a corner, behind a chair, or under a table, until I have to bend over and lift her 26lbs off the floor. Not easy for this mama with a big belly! I’ve tried waiting her out, but her patience and stamina extend waaaaaay beyond mine.
- Everything her sister does, she wants and tries to do, too — from climbing to the top bunk bed, to doing handstands on the couch, to brushing her teeth and then spitting in the sink. Adorable, but not always practical.
- One of her favorite ways to spend her time is coloring. For whatever reason, she calls it “lie” and will stand at the at gate to our craft room demanding, “lie lie lie liiiiiiiiiie” until we give her the box of crayons and a coloring book.
- She may not like to be in the water, but she does love to drink it and play with it. We have an adult water bottle that we keep in the fridge for her and she will often call for her “wa” from across the house. And when she’s done drinking it for the moment, she’s been known to then squeeze the water into her toy cups, buckets, and all over the carpet. We find puddles of water throughout the house on a regular basis.
- She loves to make people laugh. She will make a funny face or do a silly dance and then look at you out of the corner of her eye to see if you’re watching and how you’re reacting. The look alone is enough to crack me up.
- She positively adores her daddy. (He’s, by far, the favorite in this house and I’m totally fine with that.) Before she could walk, she would crawl across the room saying, “Dada dada dada” when he came home from work. Now, she waves at him out the window and squeals his name as she runs full speed to him. She loves him to read to her, hold her, tickle her, snuggle her, dance with her…basically anything. She worships him.
- She may not have much stranger anxiety or any qualms about loving on someone whom she doesn’t know, but she does seem to be a bit socially cautious, mostly in group settings. Unlike her sister, who will confidently walk into a room and “own” it without a second glance at me or her dad, Skittle stays close (or often, in my arms) until she feels very comfortable. She observes quietly, solemnly, taking it all in. And only once she has done that, will she let me go and wander away, often returning every now and then to touch base and “check in.”
- She likes to set up place settings for us on the coffee table with her toy dishes. And yes, there’s always one for Daddy, even when he’s at work.
- She’s weirdly intrigued by my nipples and by the moles that I have scattered across my body. She loves for me to lift up my shirt so that she can pinch them or try to pull them off.
- When she gets excited about something, she pants like a dog.
- She loves wearing necklaces. We took a trip to Hawaii earlier this year and brought along a bag full of beaded necklaces. They entertained her for 30 minutes or more — putting them on one-by-one, then taking them off, then putting them on again, and on and on it went…
- When she falls down (which happens a lot as she races from one place to another), she always points to her knee and says “Boo boo.” There’s usually no booboo in sight.
- She smacks her lips together to indicate she wants a kiss since she hasn’t learned how to say the word yes. This is one of my favorite little Skittle-isms because it is so unbearably sweet the way she does it. And sometimes, she will look at me across the room and blow me a kiss or smack the air. I love that she is compelled to give random kisses even when she’s in the middle of playing hard.
- When driving in the car, if we stop at a red light, from the backseat Skittle will say, “Goooo. Go. Go. Go. Gooooo.” And over and over it goes until the light changes green. Apparently she inherited my sense of impatience as well.
- I am seeing a bit of the “terrible two’s” awakening in her. She’s still happy and calm and agreeable nearly all of the time, but there are moments when she has a strong opinion that I (and not her father) am the one who is to give her water cup to her, or that she needs both the box and the bag of crayons to color with not just one or the other, or that her sister really cannot touch her or be near her or even look at her. So far, it’s really not terrible at all. Just amusing to watch this side of toddlerhood come alive in such a docile child.
So that’s Skittle. She’s a wonder to me, always so sweet and a unique mix of caution and throwing caution to the wind. She is bold and brave in places where her sister is not, and yet unexpectedly reserved and unsure in other situations. She is always impressing me, surprising me, and making me laugh. She adds so much to the dynamic of our family, unbridled joy and a quiet peace, and I sometimes wonder who would we be, each of us, if things had never worked out for us those two or three years ago, when it felt like we may never bring another child into existence.
Thankfully, we’ll never know. She’s here and she’s wonderful in all the ways a child can be and I’m glad it’s her, precisely her, whom God gave to us. She’s just what we needed in our lives.