Friday, January 27, 2012

Farewell to Winja

For the better part of a year now, Scout hasn't been able to say her own name. She knows a lot of obscure words, but Virginia wasn't one of them. Instead, she briefly called herself "Nina," which eventually morphed into "Winja." She's been Winja all through the delightful phase of referring to herself in the third person. "What's Winja doing?" "Winja is reading." "Winja is playing with dolly." "Winja is sad."

Winja narrates her life a little more than most, I think. This is probably my fault because I believed all those books that said to develop language by talking to my child about all the things I was doing. I suppose this practice may have contributed to her abundant language, but it has almost definitely also led her to believe that whatever one is thinking should be announced to the world. We hear all her inner conflicts, "no, don't kick mommy," and everything she's contemplating, "play with dolly," and have the opportunity to stop bad ideas before they turn into unfortunate action, "grab Thomas." Of course she's now moved on to pronouns and refers to herself as you (because everyone else calls her "you"). And most recently, she's gotten a fairly solid mastery of I, me and mine. Winja, however, remained the name she called herself.

Then, a few weeks ago, I heard her carefully sounding out "Vir-gin-ia." Well, at least we knew she could say it. Then she repeated it a few times, as if to show that she could. Unlike most of her developments, I didn't really applaud or celebrate this one. I liked Winja. It's endearing and easy to pronounce and works well enough. Nevertheless, I've noticed her calling herself Winja less and less. She almost exclusively refers to herself as Virginia now. And it makes me sad that my little girl is growing out of things. At long last, she's grown out of not being able to say her own name. Some things she'll grow out of and I won't miss, like diapers. But this one I'll miss. Like the tiny onesies I was so sad to tuck away every few months as she grew out of being a baby, I'm sad to let go of her self-appointed nickname and be back to plain old Virginia.

There are certain outfits that remind me of certain stages, like the clothes she wore the summer she crawled everywhere. Winja, I think, will always remind me of Scout learning to run, loving to jump, beginning to sing songs in somewhat recognizable tones, developing a vivid imagination, moving into a bigger bed and becoming a big sister.

A few weeks before Thomas was born, Scout and I spent an afternoon out in the courtyard in front of our apartment building. She and I went up and down the hill and crunched through the fall leaves. We pretended a round cement block was a birthday cake, then we ran around and around the circle. After a while, I sat down in the grass and watched her practice going up and down the stairs without help. Someday she'll be confident enough to always go up and down the stairs without holding my hand. And when I'm carrying groceries and a baby, I won't mind. But I also try to remember that she won't always be so willing to take my hand and need me, even if it is just a little.It was a wonderful afternoon of relaxing and enjoying my daughter just exactly where she was.

As I watched her, I reflected on how far she's come. When I watch her prancing around and doing her funny little walks, I remember how long it took her to crawl and how hard she worked to be able to walk. I love to watch her run, even if it means she runs away from me sometimes. I'm never sad that she runs because for such a long time she wanted to run so much and couldn't. Now, at last, she runs around and around the living room and, even though she's been doing it for months, it makes us both rejoice.

Some of the best parenting advice I think I've ever received is to enjoy the stage your child is in and not spend all your time wishing for the next development. I do try not to pass too much time pining for the next stage, even when she wants it even more than I do. Conversely, I guess I shouldn't spend too much time mourning how little and cute she used to be and the fun things she used to do. I've tried to live in these moments and enjoy her discovering life in so many ways. And I know exciting things are yet to come with new developments that will be just as celebrated. I must confess, though, that I will always look fondly back on Winja and may sometimes, just for a minute, wish that I could have her back.

Loving Big Sister

Despite the fact that Scout still seems to think Thomas lives at the hospital and will go back there someday, she does her best to keep him happy. She sings him songs when he's sad and lets me know whenever she thinks he might want his binky.

The other day I decided to hang a few toys from his car seat handle. Scout liked the idea and decided to bring him more. By the time I was able to convince her that he had enough toys, I could barely see him underneath the pile of toys she had given him.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Scout informs me that she is growing little and Tommy is growing big. When she is little, she says, she will sit in his swing and sleep in his bassinet. And, of course, she's already making use of his carseat and binky. Thus far, all parties have upehld their obligations.

One of my children was laying in bed crying loudly at 3:15 this morning, but not the one you'd expect (he was eating peacefully).

One of my children had a blowout this morning that necessitated the replacement of every item of clothing the child was wearing except the socks, but not the one you'd expect (he kept his inside his diaper).

One of my children cried, squirmed and complained loudly while being changed for and put to bed tonight, but not the one you'd expect (he spent the time calmly sitting in his swing looking around and smiling).

One of my children yells at the camera and produces weird expressions when I try to take pictures, but not the one you'd expect (he looks calm and cute and smiles like a champ).

As for Tommy, he is growing faster than we can believe. We actually had to break out the next size of clothes before he reached the supposed age of those clothes. That's never happened in our house before. He'll be getting new, larger ear molds for his hearing aids tomorrow.

We're now taking bets on which of our children will surrender the binky first. My money is on Tommy.

Thomas, Gunn and Tommy Gunn

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