So, I woke up the other day to realize that there’s another full-fledged member of the household living here. Yes, there are now three of us interacting, playing, dancing, joking around and talking. I’ve lost count of the number of words in Gracelyn’s vocabulary (probably somewhere between 30 and 50), but she adds around one new one each day, and she can readily express her wants, needs, satisfaction, excitement and wit. It’s true that only Shonnie and I can discern the meaning of some of Gracelyn’s utterances, but they’re becoming clearer day by day, and we only rarely have to guess at what she wants us to know.
Gracelyn loves the cats, and they love her. Frequently the first word she speaks upon waking is “cat.” She pets Bandit, Desmond and Kaali, snuggles with them, helps feed them and announces when one of them is purring (Purr, purr, purr!). Gracelyn is also delighted with the Christmas tree and the other holiday decorations that she and Shonnie put up a week or so ago. When she first comes downstairs in the morning she insists that we turn the lights on and says, “Tree, pretty, mama,” meaning, of course, that she thinks the Christmas tree is pretty and acknowledges that Shonnie is responsible for its beauty. Ah, the splendor of the holidays through a child’s eyes.
Most of the time Gracelyn now walks over to her potty and pees or poops without assistance. She will ask me or Shonnie to read a book to her if the elimination process is going to take a while. The favorite book is Richard Scarry’s Best First Book Ever! that’s filled with the adventures of Huckle Cat, his family and his friend Lowly Worm, and she calls for it by saying “Cat, cat, cat.”
Needless to say, our little girl loves books (How could she not?) and often pulls them off the shelf for us to read to her, though sometimes she is very content to “read” them to herself. We’ve looked for and found some books for her outside the realm of the usual toddler books—Imagine by John Lennon, Me, Jane about Jane Goodall, Incredible You! by Wayne Dyer and others. I suspect she’ll be using a form of electronic reader soon enough, but for now . . . actual books that she can hold in her hands.
Gracelyn and Shonnie go to Kindermusic every week where they sing songs and move to the rhythm of the music. At home we have three Kindermusic CDs, and Gracelyn regularly insists that we play them while singing and/or dancing along. In fact, when music is playing in the house, Gracelyn will come running to one of us with a request to pick her up and dance around the room. And she sometimes dances to the music by herself. So we’re doing a lot more dancing around here these days, and that’s a very good thing.
It’s not that there aren’t bumps in the road in this journey that we’ve embarked on, but life with this happy, inquisitive, funny, engaging, self-possessed little girl brings me and Shonnie such great joy that all our challenges (having time for solitude, maintaining an orderly living space, living well on one income, getting enough exercise, etc.) pale in comparison. On a regular basis we acknowledge our deep gratitude: Gracelyn chose us as her parents!