Letter to my Sneak-a-boo: 18 months.
January 21, 2011

Dear Charlotte,

I have never, not ever, been as proud of anyone as I have been of you this past month.  The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity and you, wonderful you, have taken it all in stride.  And I should warn you now: this is going to be a long-ass letter.  I can’t help myself.  Sometimes, your father and I look at each other and are so overwhelmed by all that you are that the only thing we can think to say is WOW.  Just wow.

The first big news is that you are waist-deep in what can only be termed a linguistic explosion.  Every week, you learn a few new words and – AND THIS IS THE INCREDIBLE PART – you are enunciating well enough that strangers can understand and communicate with you.  When you say CHEE!, people hear CHEESE.  When you say CHOO!, people hear SHOES!  When you say WAH BUBBA!, people hear WANT BUBBLES!

This, to me, is far more magical than watching you learn to walk or climb or pick your grandparents out of a crowd.  It’s like we handed you the keys to a door and when we turned around you’d unlocked the damned thing.

Which, by the way, is also beginning to happen.  You have learned which keys on my key-ring will open the front door and the car and you refuse to let me leave the house without letting you lock the front door and unlock the car door.  The only hitch is that you also think that my keys open every lock.  When you see a locked cabinet at the museum or a locked door at our friends’ house, you immediately whip out my keys and go to work.

You have fallen in love with music this month as well.  You loved music before, don’t get me wrong, but over the past several weeks I’ve really made an effort to bring children’s music into the mix.  And, oh Charlotte, I wish I had thought of this sooner.  I always thought children’s music was lullabies and lameness, but the truth is that I enjoy an indie ditty about caterpillars as much as you do.  And no matter how great Springsteen is, the fact is that you find songs about naptime or making pie together or flying in a rocket ship completely irresistible.  You relate to them more, I suppose, and as a result you dance to them more and hum to them more.

Which means I dance to them more and hum to them more too.  Listening to music with you, turning on a tune about tea parties and having a little boogie-fest in the living room, is quickly becoming one of my very favorite parts of every day.

A little January sunshine.  A lot of January bubbles.  (Bubbles = Your. Favorite. Thing.)

The last big news is that you are making tons of new connections and growing into a very independent little girl.  You feed yourself at nearly every meal and although you still make a beautiful mess, it is nothing compared with some of the masterpieces of months past.  Although I nearly always let you play in any mess you create, you usually can’t wait to help clean it up.  (I hope that penchant for scrubbing floors and tidying the playroom is around when you’re thirteen.)  You can put on your shoes and throw a ball (you can also kick, but mostly kicking means falling) and you like to pretend to breastfeed or banana-feed your dolls.  You like to spoon-feed your Daddy and me.  You hug and kiss abundantly, especially when other children are involved.  You wave hello and say HI! to people and then you wave good-bye to them as well.  You arrange things in categories – all the red blocks in one pile, all the blue blocks in the next.  You can identify pictures in books and make connections between images and reality.  You understand almost everything we say to you, honestly.

You recognize when something is wrong and it either thrills (i.e. Momma put your leggings on your head) or distresses (i.e. the cat is hissing) you.  You identify litter at the park and you know what to do with it, so you stand there, trash in hand, looking around until you find a trash bin to chuck it into.  You can walk up stairs and down most stairs without a railing.  You can stack eight or nine blocks at a time and you can both sign and verbalize your need to poop.  You can push a stool to the sink, climb up, wash your hands with soap, climb down, push the stool to the towel, climb up, and dry your hands.  You can identify alm/ost all of your body parts, from your eyebrows to your belly button, from your nipples to your toenails, from your elbow to your thigh.  And you can identify characteristics of my body as well – you can point to my moles and my freckles and my earlobes.

You follow directions well too, even if they’re complicated.  If I ask you to please find your alligator toy and tuck it into the diaper bag by the front door and then come back to the bedroom, you will.not.rest. until you have located the toy, shoved it in the bag, and come back to the bedroom.  Then you tug at my pants pockets or my hand and lead me over to show me that you did it, you found that toy and put it in the bag, LOOK AT YOU.

Look at you, indeed.

We love you more than bears love honey (and everybody knows that’s an awful lot),
Momma and Daddy

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  1. By Sandra on January 21, 2011

    Oh Sarah, how lovely this is! I read all your posts during the past week. I mean ALL. Every. single. one.
    I don’t have children - not yet. But by reading your lines, I am so much looking forward to the time ahead, when my husband and I will no longer be “the two of us” but “the three of us”.

    I have made a connection from my blog to yours, I hope this is okay for you. Otherwise please let me know and I’ll delete this again. I would love to bring your words and your pictures to all the readers of my page, too.

    You are wonderful.
    So is Charlotte.
    So is Donald.
    So is Hank ;-)

    Greetings from Germany,

  2. By Megan R. on January 21, 2011

    I will continue to believe that Charlotte is a true genius so that I can feel better about Finnley being where she is at almost 18 months. ha!  Wow, what a little dynamo your girl is.  Amazing how much they grow and change day by day, isn’t it?  Happy 18 months,  Charlotte!

  3. By Sara on January 21, 2011

    We LOVE children’s music here. We listen to a TON of music, and I love children’s music in the mix, and I think my daughter enjoys it more than Tom Petty & John Melloncamp (although she does like the Beatles an awful lot) but our favorite artistis are Frances England, Butterfly Fish, Putumayo. I’d love to hear yours & Charolette’s favorites as we are always on the hunt for more artists.

  4. By beyond on January 21, 2011

    that bubble photo is magnificent.

  5. By on January 21, 2011

    hi there—i am a longtime reader of your blog—it’s just so happy, and it makes me look forward to being a parent.  i’ve never commented here before, but i am doing so today because you mentioned your and charlotte’s newfound love of children’s music…. have you checked out “in the nick of time”?  it’s written by a dear friend of mine, so i’m biased, but i think it’s just really fun, clever kids’ music that is great for doing silly dances around the kitchen!  http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/InTheNickOfTime 

    anyway, thank you for sharing this happy little corner of the internet with all of us.

  6. By Sarah on January 21, 2011

    love.this. picture.

    Also, one of my favorite things is to hear my Metallica loveing hubby singing the Wiggles in the shower!!

  7. By on January 21, 2011

    I just love the letters you write to Charlotte!

  8. By on January 21, 2011

    happy birthday and a half Charlotte! And her parents too!

  9. By erin on January 21, 2011

    I think it actually IS called a linguistic explosion.  Right around this age kiddos go from having about 15-20 words to 50-75, within like 2 months or something.  There is this really cool book about language acquisition called _How Babies Talk: The Mystery and (?) of Language Within the First Three Years of Life_.

    Hannah is going through the exact same thing and it is just blowing my mind.  Every single day it seems, she says something new to me that I have to struggle to comprehend… and then it hits me that she isn’t mispronouncing something she already knows, she’s saying a new word that I had no idea she knew.  Names, objects, actions, body parts, everything - things like Jenn (my girlfriend), ankle, raining, house, Woody.  L.O.V.E.

  10. By erin on January 21, 2011

    (PS, the best part will be if I can teach her “Sarah” and “Charlotte.“  Squeal! :) )

  11. By Sarah Christensen on January 21, 2011

    Megan R - Finnley’s a genius too =)  For every one thing Charlotte does, there’s always something else she doesn’t.  All babies this age are wonderful geniuses!

  12. By OBGYN on January 21, 2011

    Aw, this brought tears to my eyes.  My baby is 18m as well, and I can relate to so much of this!  Every time I look at her, I’m amazed.  I think it is so wonderful that you are writing letters to her.  I think I might start that, and then when she’s older she will get to see exactly what I was feeling and what she was doing.  What a great way to capture it all!

  13. By Megan on January 21, 2011

    Love your blog! I read it from my iphone all the time but thought I would stop by and say hi on my computer! Would love for you to stop by my blog

  14. By Megan R. on January 23, 2011

    Thanks, Sarah…they really are all wonderful geniuses at this age.  I am impressed and amazed every day, and I just love it!

  15. By Galit Breen on January 23, 2011

    Sob, sniffle. This was *so* sweet! I love that you’ll have such an amazing love letter for your ‘lil smarty-pants! Great idea! :)

  16. By Julia on January 24, 2011

    What a great letter!!  I also noticed a huge jump (with everything) at 18 months…and an even bigger jump at 24 months (two weeks after his party he was suddenly talking in multiple sentences and telling me experiences).  It’s just totally unbelievable to witness.  Way to go Charlotte!!!

  17. By on January 25, 2011

    What an awesome blog you have! And can I just say that I so wish I had a photographer like you to follow my children around all day and capture moments the way you do with Charlotte. This picture of the bubbles and trees and that sweet little baby girl is just incredible-truly awesome.





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