On August 3, 2008, at approximately 9:30 p.m., my baby ceased being a baby.
It all started last week, really, when she began talking in complete sentences. I asked, "Sarina, do you want me to open the door?" and she responded, "Mommy, open the door."
Several 4-word phrases and sentences followed. She dropped a quarter in her grandparents' pool and said, "Money in the pool!"
What got me the most, aside from the fact that she was 16 months old, was that she was speaking in gramatically correct terms. I was unstoppably happy, glowing with the pride of a parent who's just found out her daughter will be the valedictorian of her class at Harvard AND has paid off her schooling with the money she's made as a cover model for tasteful magazines. Then the unstoppable happiness stopped.
It happened when I was preparing for Sarina's bath. She was playing in her room, and I went to her closet to check for diapers. She came up behind me and tapped me.
"Mommy," she said, looking up at me, "What are you doing?"
I stammered, "I'm looking to see if we have any overnight diapers left," and my heart momentarily stopped mid-beat. I was explaining myself to Sarina. My baby was gone. In her place was this brilliant child, capable of expressing original thoughts and questions. She wasn't parroting me. She was just coming over and asking me what was on her mind.
It's all fun and games until someone expresses original thoughts.
Suddenly, it was serious. No more squealing to my dear relatives about the latest bit of Sarina brilliance. No, this was a moment of mourning. I felt like she skipped so many stages at once-- leaping straight from one word at a time to complete sentences within a week, bypassing the cute mixed-up sentence structures toddlers are supposed to have. She's even using pronouns and contractions properly. Where's the fun in that?
She also decided to use her potty today for the first time, just to rub it in. And she said, "My big girl potty!"
This girl astounds me, not just because she's so bright, but because she's the sweetest, most loving, non-complaining, tough little giggler I could have imagined. I could work the rest of my life at being the best parent I can be (and I sure plan to), and never feel like I'm worthy of her. Her awesomeness is just too awesome.
Thanks for coming along for the ride. I'm glad I have people who I can share this stuff with.
P.S. Hey, guess what? Did you know it's possible to really and truly get sick of reading a story you wrote to your own child? ("Yes, Sarina. Hattie, Hattie, Hattie. She gets a haircut. Blah blah blah!")