Tuesday, July 19, 2005

About the girl

I've been wanting to write about Helena — a progress report, a summary of recent developments — for some time now, but I haven't really known where to start. Nor did I want my words to radiate too much negativity, which is hard, because, honestly, she's been a horrid little creature of late.

Umpteen tantrums a day, for no discernible reason.

Maybe it's the heat, though I'm pretty sure I remember her wailing in the cool of the rain.

Maybe she's teething. She had all her teeth ahead of schedule, except for the last four molars. Her mouth has been open wide enough and long enough for me to ascertain that the top back molars are present and accounted for. I'm scared to check for the bottom ones. But maybe that's the root of her tetchiness.

Maybe she's testing us, crying out for us to delimit her world, wanting someone to take control.

Maybe she's two, and this is just a phase. Maybe it's an existential spleen.

But the balance is shifting now. Since about Friday, the house is full with giggles.

She plays differently now. More narrative, more structured. Different.

She's excellent at jigsaw puzzles.

She adores D.W., Arthur's little sister, articulating her name with exactitude. We have one Arthur book (Marc Brown) from the book club we joined to start up Helena's library. It's at a higher reading level, but she takes joy in studying the more complicated illustrations, pointing out details and devising her own story. She watches for D.W. on tv.

We've been watching Hans Christian Andersen. She sings along and dances. She's in awe of the "princess" (ballerina).

(I am starting to miss Mary Poppins, though, and Helena's vigorous performance of "Step in Time.")

(Where does the princess fixation in little girls come from?)

There are kites in both Hans Christian Andersen and Mary Poppins. Helena loves the kites. I must see about getting a kite. I don't think she's ever seen a kite in real life.

We miss the ducks a little. The local park has no ducks. We occasionally wander down to the park in the old neighbourhood (le parc rouge — the park nearby is le parc jaune — because of the colour of the slide, I finally determined) to feed the ducks, but more often we just reminisce about them.

I've always left her bedroom door open a crack at night. As of a week ago, she insists on keeping a light on in her room. At my prompting, she admitted she was afraid, but I don't know of what.

She's almost, but not quite, toilet-trained. In the morning she asks to wear underwear, like a big girl, and to preempt my lecture very seriously declares that she will go pee-pee on the toilet.

She's "graduating," advancing to an older group, at daycare.

She counts "correctly," ascribing one number per object, without skipping numbers or counting the same object a gazillion times.

She says "please" and "thank you" (well, s'il vous plait and merci), almost always.

She notices things — when I hang blinds or pictures, or if I'm wearing a new skirt — little things. She has opinions.

She loves ice cream, preferring strawberry and vanilla over chocolate.

She's pretty amazing really.
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