Cordelia (old posts, page 5)

Cordelia The Brave

Cordelia, as you know, has been having trouble saying goodbye to me when I drop her off at day camp this week. This morning, again, she cried at breakfast, saying she didn't want to go to camp, she wanted to stay with me. We agreed that I would read her a book at camp before I left her.

So indeed, we sat down and read a book together at camp. After the book was over, Cordelia looked at me and asked, "What now?" She was on the very edge of tears. I said, "Now we say goodbye and I go home and you have a nice day at camp." Well, I have never seen someone so small try so hard not to cry. She squeezed up her face and said "Okay mama" with a voice full of tears, but she didn't cry. She was so brave, it just about broke my heart, and it was all I could do not to cry myself.

The thing of it is, I know just how she feels. (I almost always know just how my children feel.) She loves me so much right now, and wants to be near me all the time, so it's almost a physical ache when she isn't (at least unless she's distracted by something else). So I will pick them up early tonight and we can all be together again.

Cordelia is Three and a Half

...although she doesn't like the idea. On Friday, when I told her it was her three-and-a-halfth birthday, she said she was too little, and also that her next birthday was going to be four! I was going to bake her a cake, but clearly she wasn't interested in the half-birthday thing, so I let it go.

She's grown about a mile since last I checked. I took her into the school this afternoon when I went in to help Delphine's class put their jackets on, and I noticed Cordelia is taller than some of the JKs. I know that's not unusual, but Delphine's always been so relentlessly 50th percentile in terms of size (once she got over being a mondo baby, that is), I find it weird to have a taller-than-average child. She's gaining on Delphine alarmingly - her 3-and-a-half height is only a centimeter or so short of Delphine's four height! I wonder how they will end up.

I would say Cordelia has come out of her shell, except anyone who knows her knows she was never in a shell. But just lately she has become even more voluble, more dramatic, more funny, more opinionated. She's also getting a little 3-and-a-halfish in the sense that she is provoking power struggles about stupid things, and over-reacting to things to see how far that will get her. She's psycho, basically, at least some of the time. We try to roll with it and not let her faze us or throw off the whole day.

Cordelia spends a lot of time with Delphine. Yes, they fight a lot but not all of the time. Delphine reads to her - they particularly like Chirp magazines - and... well, I'm not sure what they do together. This afternoon they spent a good hour out in the backyard, digging holes with sticks and watering things which don't need water (like the deck). At one point Delphine came inside to retrieve matzo, jam and almonds for a delectable picnic. It was lovely. For some reason they don't seem to fight when they're outside. Maybe the house depresses them as it does me.

Cordelia's all signed up for kindergarten in the fall. I signed her up for mornings because she's still napping at least five days out of seven. We still don't know whose class she'll be in. I'm getting to know which are the better kindergarten teachers, though, so this time I actually care whose class she's in. Hopefully someone good. (You're not allowed to ask for a particular teacher, so if you do they put you in someone else's class on principle. Boo.)

Cordelia can sing! She sings herself to sleep most nights, and a few weeks ago I was listening to her sing her usual autolullabye, the ABC song. She sang, "A B C... A B C... A B C D E F G" - the first two times she sang it, she sang it on "do do fa". She didn't continue until she had gotten it right: "do do so". Not only can she sing in tune but she knows she can sing in tune! Obviously I am now planning her career as an opera singer - she is very loud.

What else? We are all scheduled to the hilt with summer activities. Well, more scheduled than last year (ie, we have some plans). We have three weeks off at the start of summer, then Delphine is going to a day camp at a farm in the city. After that the girls and I are going to Sask for two weeks, and as soon as we get back the girls are off to the cottage with Baba and Zaida. (Not sure if I'm invited or not.) Once they get back, they are both signed up for a day camp at Cordelia's nursery school. It will be the first time Cordelia's done all-day anything, and it will be the first time I have ever had all-day off for five days in a row. (Except when I was in Sask by myself last September.)

So lots of firsts these days. I realized the other day that I have no qualms whatsoever about taking the girls downtown on the bus and subway alone - before, I would always be more comfortable if I had another grown-up, but now Delphine can be trusted to be sensible, and Cordelia responds to verbal commands (sit! stay!) so I know I don't have to be hanging on to one of them while praying the other one doesn't do something stupid. It's like they're real people! Halleluia!

A Story of One Girl and Her Dirty Chunk of Snow

Cordelia is a pretty compassionate kid. She always wants you to feel good; one of her most common phrases is, "Don't worry!" She's always doling out hugs, and kisses.

Sometimes the love goes to far, though. On the way home from taking Delphine to schol, Cordelia picked up a big ol' hunk of dirty snow, big enough that she needed two arms to carry it. I said, "What are you gonna do with that big dirty hunk of snow?"

"I'm gonna throw it!"

"Who are you going to throw it at?"

"No-one!" You can see who has the sense in this family.

"No, it's not nice to throw things at people. So what are you going to throw it at?"

"The ground!" She stopped, planted herself firmly and threw the chunk of snow down where it broke into a big chunk, some smaller chunks and some slush.

"Are you going to take a piece?"

"Yeah!" She picked out one of the smaller pieces and off we went. As we walked she was talking to herself, constructing some kind of narrative for this piece of snow; she's big on anthropomorphising. I wasn't really paying attention so I didn't catch the details.

After a block she said, "The snowball is lonely! He wants his daddy! Can we go back and put him with his daddy?"

"Um, no, let's take him home and leave him on the porch while you take a nap, and we can take him to his Daddy when we pick up Delphine."

Satisfied with that, we walked on, and she kept on talking. Half a block later: "Can he come with me while I nap?"

"No, he would melt. Remember Peter brought his snowball inside and then it wasn't there? His jacket was just wet?" Appealing to literature sometimes helps.

"But he will be lonely!"

"But he will just melt into water if you bring him inside. I think he'll be okay on the porch."

We rounded the corner and crossed the street onto our block. I walked a few paces ahead of Cordelia, and then turned around to see how she was doing. The snow was no longer in her hand. "I dropped him! Now he will never go back to his Daddy! He's gonna be lonely! He wants his Daddy and his brothers and sisters!"

And she wept, heartbroken, all the way home over the sad fate of this little chunk of dirty snow. I had to carry her and commiserate. Poor thing.

Conversation with Cordelia

This morning Delphine was reading Cordelia one of those "Baby Genius" alphabet books with the questions that are supposed to help you talk to you kid about the picture, because they assume you're not capable of having a conversation with your child about a picture in a book.

So they were on "I", and Cordelia's job was to locate the "ice skates". Last time we read the book she only found the skaters, so Delphine was very pleased when, this time, she successfully identified the ice skates. She shouted across the room, "Mumma, she found the ice skates this time! Last time she only found the skaters!"

Cordelia grinned, bounced up and down on the couch and shouted, "I'm smarter than usual!"

I need that on a t-shirt.

Three!

Cordelia is three! She has been three for almost two weeks now! We didn't have a big party or anything, because she doesn't really have any friends yet, and also I couldn't be bothered. I asked her what kind of cake she wanted and she said "a tomato cake!" Apparently there is such a thing, but I didn't feel up to that kind of experimental weirdness, so I asked her (on a different occasion) whether she would like a chocolate cake or a white one. (This is how you get little kids to do what you want, you trick them and then you paint them into a corner.) She said she wanted a white cake with chocolate icing (this is how they get what they want). And since she had been talking about having a tomato birthday for months, I drew three juicy tomatoes on top of the cake in red icing. That seemed to satisfy her.

We didn't have a party, as I mentioned, but a few people did end up coming over for cake: Baba and Zaida were there, and Tanya and Douglas and Ursa and Otis came too.

Cordelia's choice for her special birthday dinner was sushi, so Zaida kindly brought over a platter of sushi from our favourite place. Extra kindly, because his car wouldn't start! He walked it halfway over to our place and Blake met him and brought it the rest of the way. What these men wouldn't do for their little girls.

Cordelia really seems to have bought into this three thing. Her new favourite word is "why", in that reflexive way little kids ask when they're trying to get as much information into their little brains as possible. She has stopped fighting so much with Delphine, and is generally more easy-going lately. We don't lock horns so much over silly things like which way her toast is sliced.

Her latest favourite book is a counting book called "Ten Black Dots" by Donald Crews. We've read it at every nap and bedtime for the last week. She likes to point at the dots and count them, which she now does perfectly, even down to pointing to each dot exactly once. She can also do rudimentary math in her head, adding or subtracting one or two. I said rudimentary! Generally she seems more numerically-oriented than Delphine was at her age.

She's also really big! Actually she's right on the 50th percentile, but dammit, she seems big to me. I'm still coming to terms with the fact that my baby days are behind me. I know that means that also behind me are spit-up and leaky boobs and diapers and baby gates and food allergy scares and chokable object embargoes, and ahead of me are piano lessons and baking together and interesting conversations and going for walks and joking and reading and doing crossword puzzles. But I've been a baby-mummy for five years; it was such a huge part of my life — it was my whole life! — for such a long time and yet it's already over. How can that be?

Cordelia Grows Up

On Friday, Cordelia (who is two and eight months) decided she was done wearing diapers and wanted to wear underwear. She has decided to wear underwear before with mixed results, but this time she was really adamant about not wearing diapers, not even pull-ups. So she wore underwear, I accompanied her to the bathroom after meals and her nap, and she went the whole day without an accident. Saturday she had three accidents but mostly because we weren't on the ball with taking her to the bathroom at regular intervals. Notably, after her first accident, Blake (who didn't yet understand the depth of her determination to wear underwear) tried to put her in a diaper and she was mortified! She was furious and miserable until I explained to her that she could wear underwear and everyone has accidents. Since Saturday she hasn't had any accidents.

On top of that, in Saturday we sold her crib, the one the people at work bought for Delphine, and now Cordelia is sleeping in the toddler bed. She is big! She will get really mad if you call her "little".

So that's it, I don't have any babies any more.