Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Apple Of My Heart*

*Is that right? Seems sort of off.

I sort of fell in love with NJ all over again this week.

The Wife took an overnighter to Portland. It was the first time the kid and I have been alone for a long time (I started to actually look up the last time The Wife had to go out of town, but I'm lazy and semi-hopped up on cold medicine, so let's just say "a long time" and leave it at that). The time frame was short -- The Wife left mid-afternoon Sunday and returned Monday night, after NJ went to bed -- but NJ and I had a lot of fun. Nothing unusual: playing around the house, trip to the supermarket, kitchen dancing, bath and reading time, etc. What made it stand out from past Super Solo events is NJ's bursting-at-the-seams personality. (And the walking. The walking is definitely a difference. Man, is it a difference.) She's become an irrepressible force of nature who takes no prisoners, knows what she wants and how to get it, yadda yadda insert cliche here etc. etc.

NJ's vocabulary, for instance, seems to be expanding exponentially. "Hat," "bubbles," "moon," "Daddy," "Mama," "doggy" -- these are but a few of the words she has mastered. (And, of course: "Elmo.") The list of words that she's got a 75 percent handle on is even longer -- "quack" is "cack," for example, and "coat" is "co." (Actually, "CO!" is coat. I don't know why she gets so excited about putting her coat on, or watching me put mine on, but apparently it's a Big Deal.)

Now, though, my favorite word of hers is "more."

We were playing upstairs and I gently tossed NJ onto the bed to play Earthquaaaaaake, a favorite thing of hers from months ago that she seemed to outgrow. She lays on the bed, I loom over her and put one hand on either side and shake the mattress until she bounces up and down. Hilarity ensues, I stop, and just when she thinks it's over, another earthquake hits. Rinse, repeat, until my arms get tired or something comes up. So we played Earthquaaaaaaake and NJ loved, loved, loved it -- belly laughs louder than I'd ever heard before, and she actually lost her breath a little bit once. After three tremors I turned around and walked to my dresser for a water bottle, and behind me I heard NJ shouting "More! More!" I turned around and she was giggling and making the "more" hand sign she learned at day care.

I'd heard NJ say "more" plenty of times before, and seen the sign language a lot, but only when she was asking for food -- more yogurt, more cheese, more macaroni. But never in the context of playing, or entertainment, or anything I was doing. And since I'm an incredibly easy mark, I smiled big enough to hurt my face and rushed back to the bed for more horseplay. And for the first time ever, a round of Earthquaaaaaaake ended because I got tired of it, not her.

NJ missed her mom, I'm sure, and even called out for her at bath time Sunday evening, but she also had a great time with me. Sure, I might have cut some corners here and there -- I didn't wash her hair in the bath, which she hates, and her toothbrushing exercise before bedtime was probably the shortest on record -- but I don't care. We had a great time, and any worries I had about Super Soloing with a feisty, always-moving toddler vanished pretty quickly.

Which is good, because The Wife is abandoning us again next week for a couple of days. She'll be missing some pretty awesome Earthquaaaaaaakes, I'll wager.

For a day, at least, it was: Dad's up, Elmo's down.

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