Now you are 2 and a quarter. It seems that you look around daily and say, “Hey, check out all these people!” More and more often, when we take you to the playground or on an outing or when a visitor comes calling, you’ll leave us behind and run off with playmates of your own choosing.
This month, you had what I called your “first conversation.” You’d been following a trio of four-year old girls around the playground. You love four-year old girls, although (or maybe because) they treat you a little like a pet, their most compliant friend. P—, one of the girls, pulled you aside to invite you to a cookie party for her Cinderella doll over at the bench. You, P—, and Cinderella sat there enjoying Fig Newtons, lost in chat about various important topics. P— showed you a ballet step that you tried to copy. Best of all, no parents were present, encouraging you the way we sometimes do to “Show little P— the way you like to dance!” No, you undertook the entire interaction all on your own, with us just eavesdropping.
It’s not just girls who interest you, of course. You got to spend a few days with Buddy Boy this month during his school’s spring break, and you two are still best of friends. (One day, you practiced being pregnant together. You’re having a duck, and Buddy Boy is expecting a panda.) And you like younger kids, too. When we got to brunch and hike with our friends and their one-year old boy a couple of weeks ago, you wanted to show the baby everything you know about being a big kid: your room, your toys, and your music.
And then there was Joey. It occurred to you a couple of weeks ago that people in your life don’t have to be manifest, so you started talking about friends that your mom and dad had never met, and, in fact, don’t exist in any physical form. Joey was the most common imaginary visitor, and boy oh boy is she a scream. Joey dresses really well, favoring flower shirts and hair bands — just like you! She likes to eat breakfast with you, but frequently goads you into jumping up and playing before mealtime is through. And, best of all, Joey likes to take you on those long airplane trips to visit your grandparents.
Even characters in books deserve your attention. In a photo from one of your favorites (Sea Lion Roars, of course), a baby sea lion appears to be crying. Reading the book with your mom last week, you handed your bottle over to the book and said, “There you go, little buddy!” The sea lion didn’t visibly react, but he was surely grateful. You do similar things for your dolly, with whom you have regular conversations when more animated company isn’t available.
So you’re well on your way to compassion, a journey we witness almost every day through your fascination with other people and creatures. It’s inspiring to behold, really: empathy in its rawest infancy.
Keep it up! We love you very, very much,
Working Mom & Doodaddy