now we are two

Dear Esther,

Two years and a few hours ago, we welcomed you into this world on the 4th floor of Missouri Baptist Hospital. It’s hard to believe it’s already been two years.

Today I thought about what you were like on your first birthday. You had just started to form words (“kitty” was your first, which you applied to virtually every animal and non-human you saw). You had just learned to take steps on your own. Your hair was starting to grow and you were beginning to become more aware of the world. Your delightful sense of humor, the one that brings laughter into our house every day, was already there.

This year, you’ve continued to develop the qualities and skills you were just beginning to learn last September 13th. When we go for walks outside, you notice everything – people walking their dogs, the leaves on the trees, the cars driving by. You are very clear about letting us know what you like and do not like. The word “no” has definitely entered your vocabulary, although you tend to be more easygoing and flexible than many two-year-olds. You now speak in full, complex sentences with three- and four-syllable words, even if you’re still figuring out tenses. For instance, if you want a graham cracker, you’ll say “Would you like a graham cracker?” because that’s how we talk to you. You’ll figure it out.

You love reading. Most mornings, we’ll enter the nursery to find your nose buried in a book. You shut out the whole world when you’re reading, and you love it when we read you stories. You also love music. Raffi and Oy Baby are your age-appropriate favorites, but you’ve just begun to notice the non-children’s music we play for you. When you hear the Beatles’ “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” you sing along: “I can’t hide! I can’t HIDE! I can’t HIIIIDE!” Your current favorite song is Belle & Sebastian’s “Judy and The Dream of Horses.” And I’ve learned not to quote ’80s rap lyrics in conversation, an annoying habit of mine. Your mother was not happy with me when you spent a week repeating, “Pop-pop goes the weasel, the weasel!” Gotta watch what I say, I guess.

Of course, the biggest event in your life has been your baby sister, Abby. I’ll never forget bringing you to the hospital the day after Mommy had Abby. I wondered how you’d react – would you be scared or resentful? You were intimidated by all the tubes sticking out of Mommy’s arms, but you handled having a sibling really well. The first thing you did was point to your ears, then point to hers – your way of figuring out a common bond, I suppose.

The two of you get along great even though your personalities are different. Abby is much more serious-minded and impatient than you were at that age. When you were learning to walk, for instance, you were unusually easygoing about your progress. Abby wants to walk now, even though she’s barely learned to crawl. She spends hours every day pulling herself up onto every piece of furniture she can, and she gets frustrated when she can’t make her arms and legs do what she wants them to do. She’s also much less of a sleeper than you were. Mommy’s definitely sleep deprived. But she also laughs and smiles a lot. One of our favorite things is when you make funny faces and sounds to “make Abby happy,” as you once said.

Which is not to say everything’s always hunky dory between you two. Ever since Abby became mobile, and thus within reach of the toys and stuffed animals, you’ve become very territorial. We’re working on the concepts of “sharing” and “takiing turns,” and you’re beginning to pick up on them.

Mostly we just marvel at what a funny, compassionate, smart and outgoing little girl you are. There’s something special about you, Esther, and I don’t think it’s just parental bias. You have a spark. People are happy to see you and you respond in kind (even if crowds still intimidate you). You have qualities that, frankly, make me jealous. The way you approach people with ease and enthusiasm. Your vivid imagination. fascination with everything and everyone around you. The kindness you show to your sister and other babies. Sometimes I can’t believe I’m lucky enough to be your father.

So here’s to a happy and healthy two years, and my wishes for many, many more. Mommy, Abby and I love you very much. (That’s something my own father never told me enough, so I want to make sure you hear it all the time.)

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