I love the simplicity of toddlerhood. The needs are straightforward, the wants understandable. Honesty is every toddler's default setting. Not every day is easy to navigate, but the sincerity of toddlers is such that a well of compassion (or at least a puddle) can be found on even the roughest of days. But as I enjoy these days of little drama and few worries, I notice the complex beginning to seep in. It's starting with her thoughts and the way she expresses herself. I know that change is just around the corner. But for now, I'm awed, entertained, and simply taking it all in:
Audrey had a play date at a friend's house on Monday. When I called to check in on them, my friend, Elizabeth, told me about the following conversation that took place during the drive to their house:
Michael (her son) was drinking from his sippy cup. "Michael," Audrey said.
He kept drinking. "Michael," she repeated.
He kept drinking, "Michael," she said again. He brought his drink down.
"Michael, I love you," she said. Luckily, Michael is a sweetheart and after informing his mom of what Audrey had said, he told her that he loved her, too.
Jason spent most of this week in Denver attending a meeting. Every night before bedtime, we would call so Audrey could talk to him about her day and tell him goodnight. Monday night, he was asking questions about the activities she had done that day when she interrupted him. "I miss you," she said, unprompted, and for the second time that day I was reminded that while she has a gift for saying things so simply, she's beginning to understand the simple feelings that can make our lives so complex.
We carved our pumpkin on Tuesday. I put the candle in, lit it, and as I showed Audrey how our pumpkin had become a jack-o-lantern, she said, " That's cool!"
While riding in the car on Wednesday, Audrey went to great lengths to describe to me how she had noticed (even using the word "noticed") that trees get bigger higher up in the sky, due to the leaves being on the branches. Then she pointed out all the trees without leaves and asked why the leaves fell off.
Audrey was still full of energy at her bedtime on Wednesday night. She begged for one more story, which I refused due to the time (and birthday projects I needed to get to). I went downstairs only to hear her crying, uncontrollably, a few minutes later. This being unusual for her, I went upstairs to check on her, expecting that she was going to beg for a story again. As soon as I was in the door, she sat up in bed. "I wanted to say I love you one more time," she cried. What can I say, the girl knows how to get one more story read to her at night.
Jason flew home from Denver Thursday night. Having missed dinner, he stopped at Q'doba on his way home. He called before leaving the airport to ask if we had eaten or wanted him to grab something for us while he was out. I told Audrey that Daddy was stopping at Q'doba and would be home. When he got home, Audrey asked where he had been.
"I was in Denver," he said.
"You weren't in Denver. You were in Cuba," she countered, and I found myself wondering if he had informed her of some secret spy activities that I know nothing about.
Today, Audrey has said a number of things that made us laugh and look at one another with expressions that say, when did she become this little person before us and what could possibly be coming next?
This afternoon Jason was sitting across from Audrey at the kitchen table. When I walked up, he reached for me and gave my belly a big hug. Watching, Audrey looked up at me. "You're a cute mama," she said.
We took her trick-or-treating around the neighborhood tonight. After visiting a few houses we told her we'd stop at Jaila and Jackson's house (a couple of her favorite friends).
"Oh, that will be fun," she said. "Do they have candy?!"
Upon discovering that on Halloween neighbors come to their doors with bowls of candy that they allow you to reach into, Audrey began grabbing candy by the handfuls once the bowls were placed at her level. Jason and I kept asking her to take just one piece, but Halloween hours nearing an end, neighbors were eager to put more in her bag. At the last house we visited, I asked her to take just one piece. My neighbor told Audrey, "You're so cute, you can take as much as you want."
"Yes, I am," Audrey replied and reached for a second handful. At least I know that self-esteem isn't an issue yet.
When we returned from trick-or-treating, Jason dressed Audrey in pajamas and we got her ready for bed. When Jason tucks her in at night, he asks before he leaves the room if she wants her door open or closed. Every once in a while she changes the response, but each night she has an opinion. Tonight, he asked like normal. With a shrug in her voice, she said, "It's fine. You can do whatever you want."
I often give thanks that I lead a relatively simple life. Even when away, my husband remains present (and as far as I know, he is not a secret agent, simply a guy who loves Mexican). I have a toddler who is sweet (even though she apparently knows how cute she is). We laugh as much as we can. We take as many hugs as we can get. And tonight, after watching Audrey chase her Dad and her dog around the family room, I squeezed her and held on to two a little bit longer and a little bit tighter - because tomorrow she'll be three. It's as simple as that.