Dear Claire: Happy Birthday to My Two-Year Old!

(I've been writing monthly updates to my daughter, Claire, documenting all the changes that come with the passing weeks. You can catch up on past letters here.)

Dear Claire,

It has been awhile since I’ve sat down and wrote you a letter. These past few months have flown by and I can barely remember what life was like when you hit the 18-month mark, which just encourages me all the more to continue penning these letters and records every once in awhile.

Right now, you are sitting next to me on the couch watching one of the two television shows that you will actually sit still for: Baby Genius kids sing-along-songs and Sesame Street (but typically only the ones where they are singing). You sure do love your music. It is a language that runs deep through your blood, I can tell. You love to dance and will often incite (demand?) anyone else in the room to get “Up! Up!” and join you. You have started even singing along with certain refrains from some of your favorite songs, of which “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift is still one. There are innumerable Sesame Street ones, as well, and I have also started introducing you to more wholesome girl pop groups, since you seem to love that genre so much. (Daddy is busy exposing you to a variety of bands, of which Quiet Hounds is easily your favorite so far.)

For Christmas, you got a children’s piano that you love playing and when we go to friends’ houses with full-size pianos, you love pulling up on the stools and playing a tune. For your birthday, we are giving you a children’s guitar. It’s still a bit big for you, but you love laying it on the ground and strumming along with Daddy when he serenades you.

You still are my little helper. This afternoon, I was shoveling the driveway and you fished out your sand shovel for the beach and joined me in scooping piles of snow. Oftentimes when I am in the kitchen, working away, you will come to me and ask, “Help! Help!” so that you can assist in some way. Consequently, you enjoy helping me load and empty the dishwasher, put away groceries, take your clothes up to your room and clean/wipe off surfaces (so much so, that we often have to cut you off from the tub of cleaning wipes).

Spiritually, I love seeing you so readily embrace the love of Jesus. So often, his love is seen as weird and awkward and something to be shunned. But to you, it is just natural. You love to pray and at meal times oftentimes won’t start to eat until we “Amen.” At nighttime when I ask what you want to pray for, you consistently want to pray for “Shake shake” (what you call YouTube), Daddy, your grandparents, and “Peh,” whose meaning I still haven’t deciphered. Right now, we walking through the season of Lent and, to try to teach you why Easter is so monumental, have started a tradition of creating an Easter Tree with short Scripture readings for each day that we hang on the branches. You caught on to this so easily when we did something similar during Advent that I imagine these efforts will continue as traditions for years to come.

You are readily finding your voice, talking more and more with each passing week. You are also starting to string together sentences, oftentimes of the “I want ____” and “I need ____” variety, but this morning you busted out, “My shirt is all wet!” Right now, many of your words sound alike (bath/ball/back; Bible/bubble; hand/hair) but that doesn’t stop you from trying and adding more each day. You also love telling us about what just happened, so if you were playing with Daddy, you will find me and enthusiastically wave your hands around to show me how you guys were playing and chatter awhile while doing so.

You are also doing pretty well with potty-training, an endeavor we started working on a couple of months ago when you decided you want to run around the house naked all the time. We aren’t too strict about it and you still wear a diaper most of the time (you don’t like the undies we got you, even though they are Hello Kitty), but I imagine that if we (I) buckle down, by summer we could be well into potty-trained territory.

You love coloring, going barefoot, Elmo, slides (what you call “Wee!”s), kitty cats, caring for your babies, going to the community center’s indoor pool (“poo”), washing your hands, going shopping, walking in the grocery store (no shopping carts for you anymore, unless they’re the kid-sized ones and you’re pushing them!), having your back and feet rubbed (don’t claim we never spoiled you!), and hanging out with your grandparents and uncles/aunts. You are doing very well at saying please, thank you, excuse me and covering your mouth when you cough/sneeze (so much so that you remind us to say/do in case we forget).

Other stats include:
Height: 33 inches
Weight: 21.25 lbs.
Clothing size: 2T
Shoe size: 6
Teeth: Waiting on 2-year molars

Even as you physically and developmentally grow and change, your personality remains the same: Happy and joyful. Always ready to smile and laugh or attempt to make everyone else do the same. Even after being disciplined, you can hardly hold back a smile. The only time you seem sad is when you are apart from one of us in your close circle of family (and then it’s devastating for you). And of course, since you’re a toddler, there are plenty of meltdowns over frustrations of not getting your way, but they don’t last long and you are easily distracted or (lately), we tell you go to your “fuss corner” and tell the “fuss plant” (a peace lily that has looked like it’s dying for the past three years but still holds on) and you lay down and cry for a moment and then reemerge settled.

But overall, you are so happy and enthusiastic about everything. In short, you are a joy and keep this house on its toes and are never, even for a second, boring. My life was good before you came along. Certainly, it was easier. But still, it was very good. Now, though, I look back and the part in Ezekiel where he’s prophesying about the Valley of Dry Bones comes to mind: “…'This is what the Lord GOD says to the bones: I will cause breath to enter you so you will come to life. I will put muscles on you and flesh on you and cover you with skin. Then I will put breath in you so you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.’” (Ezekial 37:5-6) That feels like what the Lord has done to me with you. My life was mere bones before you. But with you came new muscles and new skin, new breath, a new life. You have changed me and reinvigorated me in a way I never knew I needed or wanted or could have become. And in doing so, you have shown me the Lord: his goodness, his provision and care, his mercy, his love.


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