Dear Sammy,

For your newsletter describing your 30th month of life, I’ve been collecting phrases that we’ve heard around the house. These are the ones that make your Dad and me grin, or gasp, or sometimes grimace. But in each case, we look at each other and mouth “did she just say that?”

Here you go. Soundbites from a 2½ year-old girl:

“Mommies don’t go to work. Daddies do.”

“I’m not a big girl yet. I’m a little girl.”

“Mommy, I missed you when you went to your haircut. Daddy, I missed you when you were seeing Attle.”

“Shall we have a toast?”

“What’s that all about?”

“Mommy, I’m so proud of you.”

“I have an idea.”

“I’m cracking you up!”

“I don’t know what I’m talking about!”

“Why am I talking about that?”

Some of these turns of phrase fascinate us because they show us where you are in your understanding of the world. Some of them indeed do “crack us up” because they demonstrate the ways in which you have and have not assimilated our language. But the very last one deserves a special mention. For, as you crested into age 2 ½, you have begun to pursue a new line of questioning. We have embraced this new phase with equal parts pride and exasperation. Why…? Because you are now asking “why” questions.

At first, we were excited. It was enormously satisfying to answer your questions, and to see you frame your curiosity about the world in new ways. “Why do we take baths?” “Why did you put socks on me?” “Why do we garden?” “Mommy, why did you honk the horn at that car?” Well, perhaps it was more embarrassing than satisfying to answer that last one. The other day you asked Daddy “Why is it windy?” “Because certain parts of the earth heat up faster than other parts,” he replied. That was cool. You expressed curiosity about wind, asked about it, and received an interesting answer. (Plus, your mother learned something that she didn’t know. Please continue to address questions about meteorology and all things mechanical to your father.)

So why are we exasperated half the time? Because your “why” doesn’t really mean “why,” at least in the way that most adults understand it. For you, “why” is more like a conversation opener. “Talk to me about wind,” you might have said to your father. “Mommy, let’s process what happened just now when that other car cut you off and you honked the car horn and yelled.” But those are weighty sentences for you. And you often hear people ask “why?” and so it must make perfect sense to you that asking “why?” would be a good way to get some more information.

But the problem is that Dad and I usually take your “whys” at face value. And then something like this happens:

Sam: “Where are we going?”

Mom: “We’re going home.”

Sam: “Why are we going home?”

Mom: “Because it’s getting close to nap time.”

Sam: “Why is it getting close to nap time?”

Mom: “Because nap time is in the afternoon, and it is now afternoon.”

Sam: “Why is it afternoon?”

Mom: “Because morning is over.”

Sam: “Why is morning over?”

Mom: “Because it ended, it’s all done. And now it’s afternoon.”

You can probably guess your next question… and so there we are, walking home, stuck in the infinite “why” loop of a two-year old. I usually get us out by distracting you with another line of questioning: “Look at that bird flying!” You: “Why is that bird flying?” Or, I’ll pull out the one conversation stopper left to me, the one I didn’t think I’d use so soon: “Because I said so.”

Turns out that’s an effective way to abruptly change the topic in your newsletter too!

There was a lot more to your 30th month than questions and loops. You had a lot of little “firsts” this March: you and Daddy flew a kite, you got to plant flowers and seeds with me out in our backyard, you learned how to throw a giant Frisbee, you colored hardboiled eggs, and you had your first Easter egg hunt. The first of many this month, as you adore both hunting and hiding for eggs, and why should such a fun activity be limited to one day a year only? Oops, there’s that pesky “why” again. Guess you come by it honestly ;-). I must say that I got a kick out of our daily egg hunts. For a couple of weeks, every afternoon, you and I would take turns hiding eggs for each other in the backyard. “Stay inside, Mommy, no peeking!” It was a hoot to see where you would hide them, although you usually deprived me of the pleasure of the hunt itself, because as soon as I would come back outside, you would lead me around and show me yourself where you had hidden the eggs. Or you’d say “Let me give you a hint, Mommy” and then show me.

That was a fun game. And more and more you do indeed play games with us, meaning, you can follow simple rules, take turns, and follow what’s going on. You still don’t really care about the outcome of a game, about winning or losing. You are all about the process. And that’s refreshing. We played “soccer” and “kickball” with Daddy on Easter. You learned to play a game called “Cement Showers” from your new friends Dylan and Erin. And you LOVE to play “Red Light Green Light,” which Dad and I taught you. Last time you and I played together, you introduced “Blue Light” into the mix, which means, apparently, that the people trying to get to the traffic light are to walk in a crouch and giggle.

There’s been new indoor play this month too. Mom-mom gave you a tea and dinner party set for St. Patrick’s Day, and so you and various bears have enjoyed tea and wine parties together (who says you can’t enjoy both together?). When my laptop died last month, you and I spent considerable time at the Apple Store, where they have computer stations set up for kids. And that’s where you played your first computer game solo—a Sesame Street coloring activity. (I figure your Dad wants that “first” recorded). At home, we’ve been letting you play with an online alphabet game for a few minutes each morning. You love it, and it’s helping reinforce your letter and phonemic awareness. We’ll be driving somewhere, and instead of questioning my driving practices, you’ll shout out, “Mommy I see a T! And there’s an A! And another T!” Your first spelled word is indeed likely to be Target.

Or maybe Trader Joe’s. We spend time there every week. I am very proud of you for asking the cashiers for stickers–all by yourself! There was a time when you would hide your face in my shoulder every time a cashier tried to talk to you. Now you will look him or her in the eye, and… start belting out tunes. “Twinkle twinkle” is the usual number. I really don’t know what it is about store cashiers that make you want to sing. Perhaps it’s just a calming device for you, or an easy way to verbally engage a stranger. The cashiers usually smile, or gape. It definitely shuts them up, though. Aha, maybe THAT’s your strategy. Way to go, baby girl.

Of course, you sing all the time at home too. But there you have no qualms about asking me to stop talking, or singing. “No, Mommy, don’t sing. We sing in the car.” In the house we’ve been listening to a CD of French children’s music. It is your hands-down favorite, and you request it every day, several times a day. Your favorites are “Alouette” and “A la ferme de Zephirin,” which is a French version of “Old MacDonald.” You are learning the words to all the songs (as am I) by listening to them, although you have no idea what you are singing, and you’ll ask me what the song is about. I do get such a lift out of hearing your little voice croon “Sur le pont d’Avignon” and I can’t wait to show you the bridge itself one day.

While there were no such trips for you and me, travel did play a big role in our lives this past month. Daddy went to “see Attle” for a whole week, and my friend Robin from Altoona came to visit. You adored Robin, who entertained you by making your bears sing musical numbers about their names. We also got to spend a little time with “Unkie John” who was in town on business. We’ll be seeing a lot more of him quite soon, as he’s moving to our part of the world to start a new job!

Yes, spring is for beginnings. Two years ago we were just entertaining the notion of moving to California. And now my brother and sister-in-law are going through the same process. Weird, huh? Loops. Cycles. I don’t know why life moves cyclically, Sammy, but I do promise you that we’ll talk about it. Maybe not today, though… how about in a year… or two? Happy 2 ½ years, baby girl. We are so proud of you.

Love,

Mommy

P.S. Do feel free to ask Daddy why it’s not foggy today. I’m curious to hear the answer.