28 months

It’s been a long time since I’ve written solely about Phoebe. With her 28-month birthday this week, the timing seems right.

She’s been through a lot these last eight months. 

For six months, I was little more to her than a moving picture on “da ‘puter.” Then we took her away from “ ‘Nosha” and “Noni,” on a daylong car-ride, during which she threw up, to a strange land that is really hot, has a park around nearly every corner and where Mommy and Daddy are the only familiar faces … Then there was that crummy week we spent in a scary room where a bunch of strange people kept coming to poke her with needles … 

And now, during the weekdays, we take her to this weird place and leave her with a bunch of women she doesn’t know. She has to eat things she doesn’t like and take naps on a cot. She does get to color and play a lot, though.

Like I said, she’s been through a lot these last eight months.

Sometimes it’s hard to tell if her sudden tantrums and her clingy-ness are products of those months. In the two weeks we’ve been taking her to the daycare, or “school” as we’re calling it, barely a day has passed without her crying and screaming when we leave her. On some days, Kates picks up Phoebe and drives home to declarations of “I not leave you again, Mommy.” After all, Kates has been the one constant in her life throughout our adventure. Along with her baby and blanket.

Making things more interesting, she seems to have a remarkable memory. For example, when we dress her in the shirt she was wearing on moving day, she looks down at it and says “I not throw up.”

Or, all of this is a product of the “terrible twos.” It's hard to know; we're still learning this whole parenthood thing.

(Just now, I had to interrupt this post because Kates and Phoebe returned from the grocery store. The fact that I was heading outside to retrieve the groceries from the car -- while Kates stayed inside -- threw Phoebe into a tailspin of tears. She begged to come with me and held on as tight as she could -- until I removed her to the sound of louder screams.)

Yet, amid all the changes, Phoebe has not ceased being the incredibly intelligent, social, observant and curious little ham, er, girl she's been since birth.

She’s turned into Miss Independent. Just about every little thing she does these days is preceded with a loud “Iiiiiiiiii do it!” … Brushing her teeth. Climbing on to a bed, or her booster seat. Putting a movie into the DVD player. She wants to try anything and do everything. By herself.

She loves watching movies. She likes Tinkerbell and Bob the Builder, but Barney and Winnie the Pooh dominate our TV when she’s around … Winnie the Pooh is charming and innocent enough, I could watch it with her all day without getting bored. Barney, on the other hand, nearly drives me insane … On the bright side, she also discovered “Toy Story” this summer and enjoys watching our grainy VHS recording of a television airing that’s several years old.

She likes to dance, when we pull her away from the movies long enough for me to turn on some music. Of course, Phoebe’s idea of dancing is still jumping and running from one side of the room to another. Either way, it’s still movement to music … One of our more memorable music moments this summer happened several weeks ago when I turned on the great, great Byrds groove “Chestnut Mare.” When it comes to my classic rock, I have a tendency to sway my head lazily to the music like some kind of hippie. Phoebe caught me doing it and started doing it too -- with this huge smile on her face. It was totally adorable, but like I said, observant.

She continues to learn words as fast as lightning strikes. But hearing the way she pronounces some of them is half the fun. Our new favorite is “han-gaber” -- or what most people call a hamburger. She also refers to her butt as her booty.

She’s very matter of fact and particular about what she wants. After getting in the car the other day, she wasted little time announcing, "It’s not hot in here," to which I reached for the air-conditioning dial. That prompted her to say, "Turn it up loud, Daddy!"

Once Kates has her ready for bed at night, Phoebe stands at the door of her downstairs bedroom and shouts to me upstairs, "Come ON, Daddy! c'MON!" When she sees that one of us is frustrated or upset, she's quick with a tilt of the head and a consoling, "Dat’s ok ..." And when she wants to cuddle or hug, she'll approach slowly and say, in a soft voice, "I hold you."

She’a got tattle-tailing down. If I say no to something, she goes to mommy: "Daddy say no eating waffles in the big bed!" ... And when she sees something she doesn’t know about, she whips out her arm and points to it with an authoritative “Es dat!?”

She can be boisterous. She likes breaking, out of nowhere, into counting numbers or reciting the ABCs. ... And she likes singing about everything and nothing at all. It’s shouting gibberish usually. And sometimes I’ll join her for fun, singing -- shouting, actually -- loudly. Da da da la ba da ta da ba ba ba

If Kates and I are in a giving mood, we’ll let her play with our cell phones. That could keep her occupied for hours, if we let it last that long. "Daddy, I test your phone," she says. Translation: "Daddy, can I text on your phone?"

Her other favorite pasttimes are rearranging the magnets on the refrigerator. Prancing around the living room while swinging her purse and wearing sunglasses. And trying to put her own (clean, of course) diapers on her babies.

She loves blowing bubbles on the back deck. She loves drawing with chalk on the front stoop. She loves playing soccer, which, to her, is bouncing a ball. And she loves playing baseball, which is hitting a wiffo ball off her tee -- and man, can she really hit for a 3-foot tall, 28-pound, 2-year-old. Seriously, softball player in the making.

She’s a daredevil. She climbs onto her bed by herself. And she climbs into her booster chair on her own; her hi-chair went into storage within a couple weeks of our arrival here.

And she's clever. A couple weeks ago, after Kates and I put her to bed, she came stumbling up the stairs around 9:45, telling us she forgot to eat her yogurt. Then she says she wants to watch the Cubs game with me. ... You could say it's in her genes. I often pulled similar tricks when I was a kid.

She's growing up. And we're finding it harder to keep up with her.

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