Sunday, February 19, 2012

Growing Up

My heart broke a little bit this weekend.

On Friday, we bought Ella her own Winnie the Pooh arm chair. She loves it. The first time she sat on it we were at her grandparents' house, and she ever so carefully lowered herself to the seat, looking up at them as they beamed down at her. She smiled shyly.

On Saturday, when she woke up from her nap I brought her into the living room to cuddle on my lap while she drank her sippy cup of milk. Like we always do.

She saw the chair and got up to sit on it and drink her milk by herself. The saving grace, the thing that kept me from crying, is that the chair was positioned in front of the couch, so she kept looking back at me and smiling--showing me what a big girl she is. We giggled at each other.

Today, Sunday, she and I went to the bookstore after her nap (after she drank her milk while sitting on her chair). I wanted to buy her a potty training book to go with the potty we already have for her in my bathroom. I know that Ella learns well from reading, that she likes to do things that big kids and grown-ups do, that she would appreciate a straightforward book, rather than one with silly rhymes or pictures. While we were looking at the books (there is a section with "growing up" books--including a whole shelf of books related to potty training), I showed her a board book that wasn't cartoons. (Dora the Explorer and Elmo and friends all have books about their potty training experiences. There are several with generic boys and girls showing their cartoon teddy bears how to use the potty. There are also books about all the different animals and how their poo is different; the illustrations are, well, illustrative.) The first page in the book I showed Ella had a picture of a little girl wearing a diaper, bent over at the waist and peering through her legs at the reader. Ella took the book and turned it upside down--she knows that people's heads go at the top of the page, and figured I gave it to her facing the wrong way.

I thought I'd get a board book--the kind that are made of sturdy pages that she can't tear. But, after reading all the potty books (except the ones for boys--there are gender specific books as well as generic ones), I chose "You Can Go to the Potty" by William Sears, MD; Martha Sears, RN; and Christie Watts Kelly; illustrated by Renee Andriani.

It's a 32-page book with drawings and a few pages for parents and caregivers. It also has special information boxes on some of  the pages, labeled "Answers for the Very Curious." For instance, there is a page that features a drawing of a mommy throwing poo-poo into the toilet from a full diaper while the toddler watches, that reads "When your diaper is full of pee-pee or poo-poo, you can tell Mommy or Daddy, and they will give you a clean, dry diaper." The additional information reads: "What is pee-pee (urine, wee-wee, tee-tee, tinkle)? It's what's left over when your body is finished using the water, milk, and juice you drink, and it needs to come out." And so on, and so forth.

The bookstore has toys behind this section of books about growing up, so while I perused those, Ella was pushing the buttons on all the toys that made noise. Other kids were running around and screaming, so I just let her do her thing. That's when I spotted, "Pacifiers are Not Forever."

Ella loves her pacifier. They gave her one at the hospital when she was born, and she has slept with it in her mouth ever since. She used to suck on it when she was out and about in her stroller, too, but she was relatively young when we restricted its use to sleep-time only.


They discontinued the style of pacifier that she likes. The nurses gave her the traditional type--the nipple is round and symmetrical, not "orthodontic" (shaped so it is round on the top and flattens at the tip where her tongue pushes up on it). None of the pacifiers in the store are non-orthodontic anymore. So, when the two pacifiers she has now break, it's over.

I'm sure it will happen on a night that Justin is at work and I am alone with her.

So, I put the potty book of choice on the floor next to the other growing up books, and pulled "Pacifiers are Not Forever" out slightly from the rest of the books it was with ("Feet are not for Kicking", "Hands are not for Hitting", "Teeth are not for Biting" etc.) I went over to Ella and took her hand.

"Ella, let's go see the books." She looked at me and went back to using the drumstick from a toy instrument set. "Look! There are some books just for you! Let's leave that here where you found it, and go look at the books."

She came with me. I love holding her hand.

"Ella, look! This is your book!" I pointed to "You Can Go to the Potty." "What other books are there?" I was suddenly thankful that the " are Not for " books were exactly at her eye level, even though I was getting sore from squatting. I pointed toward the one that I had pulled out a bit. She fell for it and took it in her hands to show it to me.

"Pacifiers are Not Forever!" I exclaimed. There's a drawing (by Marieka Heinlen) of a child holding a pacifier in her hand and smiling. Ella pointed to the paci. "Yes, that's a paci. Do you want to read this book?"


She opened it and I started reading aloud. "You are growing every day, Look how BIG you are now." The illustration is of a little girl standing by one of those growth charts on a wall and the mommy has a pencil in her hand to mark her height while her puppy watches. We kept reading. "Turn the page."

I sat all the way down, "Do you want to sit on my lap while we read this book?" She did! I missed her so much because of the new milk-own-chair situation.

The book takes us through all the different ways the child is growing up--walking, talking, feeding herself. And then it says, "'s time to give it up. Pacifiers are not forever."It shows how easy it is to give up a pacifier, that all the big kids are doing it, and that without it you can make funny faces, blow bubbles, talk, smile, kiss!

She sat for the whole reading. When it was over, she stood up and I asked her if she liked the book. "No," she said while nodding her head up and down for yes. "Do you mean, 'yes'?" She smiled. "Do you want to take the book home?"


"We can take the book home." It's a board book. I gave it to her to carry. "This is your book, too." I picked up the potty book. "Do you want me to carry that?"


"OK. We have to go pay for it, so we can take them home. You have to give it to the cashier, so I can pay for it. Do you want to take the escalator or the elevator?"

We rode the escalator up and when it was our turn in line, she held the book up to the gentleman so I could pay for it, "I'll give it right back," he said--and he did.

At home, after dinner, we came into the living room to relax a bit before bedtime. She saw the two new books on the couch and wanted to read them. Lucky for me, when I offered to read them to her she let me have her sit on my lap. We read the potty book first (I mentioned it's 32 pages). She didn't even mind that there are lots of words per page. She pointed to the potty when I asked her to, and she pointed to the bathroom down the hall, showing me she knew where her potty was, too.

Then we read "Pacifiers are Not Forever." She pointed to the pacifier, and repeated, "paci" when I asked her what it was. Then, when we hit, "Pacifiers are not forever. What do the big kids do?... Put the passy in the trashy," I could feel dismay starting to sink in. At the part where the author suggests getting a hug for comfort in lieu of a paci, she hugged me.

I felt awful.

I offered to let her read a few more books, even though it was getting to be past her bedtime.

When we finished putting the books and toys away, she happily went to brush her teeth (used to be quick and easy, but about a week ago she decided she didn't need help anymore, and that I wasn't allowed to do anything but put training toothpaste on her little brush. So that's taking some time, now.). Afterward, as she always does, she turned down the hall and headed to her bedroom. Where she saw her paci in her crib. She practically dove for it.

"Ella, the paci stays in the crib. The paci is for sleeping. We're going to put your night-night diaper and your jammies on now." I picked her up and took her to the changing table.

She started crying. Seriously crying. At this point, I couldn't give in and give her the paci because I can't let her start thinking if she starts shrieking she will get whatever she wants. So we went through the whole changing routine with me assuring her that she could have the pacifier after we read "Good Night Moon" (her bedtime story--she gets it from the shelf and hands it to us (or just me, when Justin is at work) so she can sit between us while we read it in verses every night. Also something she has decided she can do herself--we're not allowed to touch the book, just read in whatever random order she chooses, or recite it despite her erratic page turning).

When I put her down so she could get the book she walked over to her crib and put her paci in her mouth. She was standing on the opposite side of the crib from me, and I just stood there watching her. I smiled. We played a little game of peek-a-boo between the crib slats. And then, "You can put the paci back in the crib, and then we'll go read "Good Night Moon," and it will be here for you when we come back. You can have it to sleep with tonight. But you have to leave it here now, so we can read "Good Night Moon"."

Praise Jesus, she took it out of her mouth and headed down the hall to her bookshelf. I quickly hid the paci book, which was still on the couch.

I figure we'll let her just read it for a while, and eventually she'll decide she wants to be like the big kids in the book. Or, at least, when the pacifiers break she will be ready for the idea of "put the passy in the trashy."

In the meantime, Ella is doing the grocery shopping.

After the bookstore we had to stop to pick up milk on the way home. At first I put her in the child seat of a regular shopping cart, but then I realized the seat belt was broken, so I asked her, do you want to sit in the cart or walk? Of course she chose walking. I took one of the new baskets on wheels and started pushing it with one hand while she held the other.

I asked her to let go, so I could open the door to the refrigerated milk. When I turned back to the basket, she was on her tiptoes trying to push  the handle. Of course she didn't believe me when I told her she couldn't reach. We compromised--I let her push the cart from the little section they have for purses and drink cups (these new baskets are really quite convenient!) while I steered from the handle. Slowly but surely, we made it to the checkout lines.

I still remember the first time she sat up in a grocery cart child seat, instead of in her car seat in the cart. (Thanks to Facebook Timeline, I can tell you it was Nov. 18, 2010. She was six months and three days old. We had just moved her to sleeping in her crib in her own room, instead of the pack-n-play in ours.)

I miss my baby girl.