Every night at bedtime, I sit in the rocking chair with my 19-month-old, and we spend a few minutes together, rocking slowly and quietly before I put her in her crib for the night. She spends the time checking out whatever earrings and necklace I’m wearing, and I remind her to touch them gently, when she tugs. She then likes to point out my eyes, ears, nose and teeth—then her own eyes, ears, nose and teeth. She usually follows it up with “Dada nose?” Then we talk about how Daddy is helping her brother and sister get ready for bed.
After that she moves on to examining her curtains which are covered with flowers (“wowers”), owls and birds. She loves to tell me that owls say “hoo-hoo,” and birds say “teet-teet.” Then she usually stands up on my lap and tries to “surf” because, as it turns out, I’m the only one who’s interested in rocking slowly and quietly. She wants this time to be loud and death-defying.
Recently she has added saying hello to the baby to our nightly ritual. She can apparently only do this if I lift my shirt all the way up, so she can see my actual belly. I try to convince her that the baby is there, even underneath my shirt—but she’s not having it. So, I pull up my shirt, and she puts her tiny little starfish hands on my belly, rubbing and patting, as she says, “hi.”
She gives my belly hugs and kisses. (Every night she also points worriedly at the freckle on my belly and asks, “owie?” But try explaining a freckle to a 19-month-old). Once she’s finished giving rubs and pats and hugs and kisses to the baby, I pull my shirt back down. This prompts her to ask, “Where baby?” as she holds her hands out to either side and shrugs her shoulders? Sometimes I tell her that the baby is sleeping. But she’s not buying it. She insist on lifting my shirt again. And then pulling it back down, thereby “hiding” the baby, so she can ask “Where go baby?” and “Baby? (Where) Are you?”
It’s basically the cutest game of hide-and-seek between the soon-to-be big sister and her unborn baby brother or sister. And I know it won’t last forever (both because she’ll eventually tire of the game and because the baby will eventually come out), so I just soak it up while I can.
We only sit there for a few minutes before she gets antsy and, in an effort to delay bedtime (already—she’s not even two!), tells me that she needs to use the potty. So we get up and use the potty before I tuck her into bed for the night. Soon she’ll be a big sister, but for now she’s still my littlest baby, and I can’t get enough of her sweet ways.