I want to take a moment to remind you that you’re given name is Beatrice. You insist on being called Bebo, and I suppose I can’t blame you; it most likely originated from my own postpartum stupor of tiredness. And then it really, really stuck.
Over the course of your second year you went from babe in arms to a walking toddler. I guess that’s how it’s supposed to go, but you took your time. I could tell you could’ve walked earlier if you had wanted to, but you stayed crawling well after your first birthday. You made the commitment to walk at sixteen months, and man, now you’re running to keep up with your siblings, and calling me to run along, too. Maybe you gave me that extra time as a semi-baby as a sweet, wonderful gift. I just loved that time with you.
God gave you beautiful brown eyes. Your sister has them, too, but in a different way, with a different tone. When I open the van door to get you out of your seat, I see it most then, in the natural light. I can’t explain it, but they have a sparkle, a shine to them. I think that’s unusual for darker-eyed children. It makes me stop and really look at you, which when you are a busy mom, you don’t do enough with your kids. Yet another gift.
I see both your siblings in your face, and your Dad and I, too, but you have your own look. Ian says you are the “key to cuteness.” He’s been saying you’re cute from day one. In fact, he sings about it constantly, with the same lyric and sometimes a varying tune: “Bebo is so cuuuuuute!” He was pretty stinkin’ adorable at your age, but he doesn’t have the lone dimple, which is a pretty big leg-up on his toddlerdom of yesteryear.
Your brother is obsessed with both delighting you and annoying you. In the first few months of your second year you didn’t notice so much, and when you did, you would sometimes dance along. By your second birthday you were annoyed, would yell “NOOOOOOO!!!!!” and gave him a good slap. He would laugh and laugh. Beatrice, you have total power over that boy. Be nice to him as you get older, even if he drives you nuts. He’s devoted to you.
You learned how to smile for the camera this year, and it’s is such a cheeky smile. Your face is small enough that all if it scrunches up–your cheeks, your eyes, and a big, memorable crease across the bridge of your nose. Before you could walk you had a wholehearted and joyful desire to dance along with your siblings to “I Like to Move it, Move It!”(played MANY times at our house), even when all you could do was crawl up to the speakers and bounce up and down with a smile on your face.
You love the bath. Early on in the year, the moment I would turn on the faucet you’d come crawling with incredible speed, then pull yourself up to the side of the tub and try to tip yourself over into the water. You’d splash and splash, and now you and Imogen fight over toys. She takes great joy in seeing how much you love the water.
You have chub like your brother and sister didn’t, and I LOVE IT. We play belly drums on you all the time. What I find miraculous is that you’re padded despite the fact that it seems you barely ate anything this year. Carbs, carbs, carbs. That’s what you ate. No fruits, no veggies, barely any meat. I would put loads of butter on anything you ate, though it’s better now. And smoothies–that’s really what got us through it. Even ice cream–you’d turn your face away and even when we’d force it into your mouth you’d spit it out. You do things on your own time.
You babbled this last year, and you certainly weren’t a quiet child, but you didn’t really start talking until closer to two. The doctor said you should be saying some ridiculous amount of words (23?) by a 18 months, which your siblings never did. Nevertheless, we took you to a speech therapist at Children’s per the doctor’s recommendation. You were an absolute delight to the therapist; you played farm and ball with her and she showed me you were actually trying to say quite a few words, you just didn’t have them down yet. It was not worry; by two you were chatting away. Now it’s full sentences and you hold your own against the rest of us loud, opinionated chatterboxes.
You have always been a super snuggler. Imogen can stealthily sneak into a lap without anyone noticing–that’s her talent. You announce your presence as you climb up, and make sure no one tries to take over your spot (sometimes by force). You would babble and talk and grab my face to make sure I was listening. If you were tired you’d lay your head on my shoulder and stick your thumb in your mouth. I have LOVED that.
In fact, for a few months after you turned one, we had really special moments at the start of the day. You’d wake up before the other kids, and I’d still want to sleep, so I’d pull you out of bed, get back into our big bed, and lay you on my chest. You’d snuggle in, your head in that shoulder-spot, still and quiet. These were best moments of your second year for me, bar none. I will not forget them.
That phase has passed and you’re a ball of energy now. Towards the end of the year when I knew you wouldn’t sit still on my chest, I’d leave you in your crib for a few more moments of wake up for myself. You would start bouncing up and down, thumping pretty loudly. You’d chant, “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy” with increasing volume until I’d finally come and get you.
One of the first phrases you started saying was “NO WAY!” Again it started with me–a silly thing I’d say to you when you’d kick me during diaper changes. You laughed and then started saying it back. But then it was “NO WAY!” to a lot of things, sometimes in silliness, but later on in defiance.
As the youngest, you’ve picked things up, including Ian’s obsession with Star Wars. You started humming the Imperial March at about 20 months. I could hear you during nap time alternating between that and your “NO WAY!”s. Geesh.
You love books. If I couldn’t find you or hadn’t heard from you in a while, I’d peek into your room and find you on the rocking chair looking at books quietly. As your language developed you would chat to yourself, your intonations going up and down, as if you were actually saying words. This went on for a few months, but now you want me to read the books to you, and you anticipate what’s next in your favorites, which include all of Sandra Boyton’s hippos and cows. I think it’s meant to be.
To my surprise you expressed an interest in the potty not long after you could walk. I’d set you on the big toilet and you’d even push, proud of yourself and saying you peed. I’d have to coax you off the toilet. Then one day your actually did pee. And you did it a few more times. I didn’t commence potty training (you may be ready, but I’m not quite yet), but I am hopeful for our future efforts.
You grow in personality and tenacity and smarts every day. I don’t want to dive into your third year, though months of it have already passed by. That’s for another time, and there’ll be lots more to say. For now, I’ll just say it’s getting better and better. You have made your place in our family. Everybody loves Bebo.
You were a surprise, Beatrice. Truly a miracle, coming into the world at the most perfect time, but also at an uncertain and honestly scary time for me and our family. But I can’t imagine a day without you–back when you were a newborn in my arms, a snuggler on my chest, and now in the chaos as your siblings show you the way (and when sometimes you give them a piece of your mind).
Keep growing into yourself, Bringer of Joy. There’s so much more of it in you to come!
Mommy (dum dum dum, dum de dum, dum de dum)
Here is Beatrice’s second year in pictures, in chronological order starting with her 1st birthday and ending with her 2nd.