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Dear Alice: Slow down July 3, 2010

Posted by Erin F. Wasinger in Letters to Alice.

Dear Alice,

Slow down. That’s the main thing I’d like to say to you. Your personality has exploded — mostly in a good way, but if I had a dollar for every time you broke out the grating whine you have mastered I’d never have to work again.

Speaking of money, you have this purse. This little red purse I didn’t want anymore hangs on your shoulder and hits your knee, and you carry it around while you take your baby — whom you’ve named Cuckoo for no reason I can discern — on a walk in the play stroller. You were digging around in the bag for money, because your grandpa had given you change from his pocket awhile ago; upon not finding it you reiterated a lesson I have been nailing in your malleable head since birth:

“Alcie need money.”

“Alice had better get to work then,” I said.

“Alcie need job. Alcie get job.” You nodded wisely and swung the purse back up on your shoulder. “Couple days.”

So the next day I circled some help wanted ads for you. Just kidding.

Alice, I can’t keep up with you. I don’t mean physically — you may do yoga alongside me in the living room, but you’re pretty content to forgo that whole running thing. I mean that while I’ve been out making money (until your work permit comes through, then Mama’ll be out on the back deck with a glass of wine while you do the makie moneys), you’ve been picking up something like 700 words a day. You’ve been mimicking me, mimicking the sitter, mimicking your dad (whom you call “No David” after reading David Shannon’s book by that name), mimicking Violet. “Mama, Vi-yit do dis,” you say, and then freeze in whatever pose or facial expression your sister is making.

You say that about 54 times a day — I know what Violet is doing AT ALL TIMES.

I want to remember everything, but it’s happening too fast. I want to remember how you say “Al-cie Wib-weth” when I ask what your full name is. I want to remember how you say “I play wit Lucy!” after church, which is a lie because you mainly just watch like a creepy kid from the sidelines while the other kids play. How when the doctor tried to get your weight, you screamed and put a foot on the wall and arched your back to avoid touching the baby scale (she ended up having to use the scale they use to weigh people in wheelchairs … Proud moment). How you still sing the “Happy Dirty Cake” song to yourself, weeks after we sang the original “Happy Birthday Song.”

I want to remember how you insist I kiss all the animals in your bed goodnight. How you eat more ravioli than I do in one sitting. How you beg us to put on your sandals immediately after you wake up. How you read to yourself aloud at night after I put you to bed — you have so many books memorized you don’t need me to tell you not to let the pigeon drive the bus.

I’d love to forget that whine, though, and it’s led to many-a-nights recently where I’ve come home from work overwhelmed and you start whining and I do the shrill Mom-Almost-Yell, and I’m not proud of this. I miss you (and your sister) so intensely all day, and when I come home sometimes all that’s left of me is a worn out shell of an impatient wench. You sometimes get the worst part of me. I end up feeling so sick over this that I let you stay up later and we cuddle on the couch and watch Alice and the Cheshire Cat and the White Rabbit in your favorite movie, “Alcie Weh-wahnd.”

Yeah, more TV. Alice, someday you’ll understand — though I still don’t — how one guilt-laden decision can lead to another, only slightly less guilt-laden decision.

It’s called parenting on the fly, and I’m really good at it. Sometimes I feel not so great about most other things (see: the time I don’t get to spend with you girls, my bad attitude at 7 p.m., eating two s’mores and then pleading with my pre-pregnancy pants to fit just this once, just take me back I LOVE YOU WE CAN WORK THIS OUT!) — But I’m getting great at winging it.





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