In which she reflects upon her daughter at age 2 and 3/4.

The Bean is rapidly closing in on 3. Right now, as I type, we’re deep into the bedtime routine. I’m monotonously singing her old, many-versed folksongs and lullabies, and she’s having lengthy conversations with the animals in bed with her – tonight, a stuffed baby doll and a white cat. (We’ve been talking a lot with Zag about who is and is not the dog handler, with respect to training the puppy. The Bean just told me, “I am the cat handler.”) Or she’s quietly singing her own song selections: the Imperial March, various Hallelujahs, a sort of chant of “Dance, Dance, Revolution,” and other songs all her own. She is quite Frances-like in her habit of making up little songs of things – it’s delightful in the daytime, less so when the endgame is to get her to sleep and successfully extract the adult from her bedroom.

She’s grown two inches since April, and she outgrew several pairs of shoes about a month ago, but now she’s in a non-eating phase – we put a meal in front of her and she takes 25 minutes to eat seven or eight bites, and then asks to be excused. Sigh, shrug, so be it.

She recently figured out how to turn on the faucet in both the kids’ bathroom and the kitchen sink (with a chair assist), and is now suddenly very interested in washing her hands and getting herself cups of water. We remember Zag at this stage – particularly memorably, the time he flooded the front bathroom at our apartment at my seminary, resulting in streams of water running down the walls of the apartment below us. We hope to avoid anything that dramatic here, where we own the foundation…

The Bean and Zag get along well, overall – they whack each other occasionally, but sometimes they play together really well. The other day out yard-saling, I left them in the car together to scope out a not-very-kid-ish sale. The Bean got very sad, and I came back to the car and asked her to cheer up so I could finish looking. When I came back again, Zag was reading her a storybook, and she was doing fine. He’s a good brother, much of the time. That seems like as much as anyone can ask, really.

A recent sibling interaction that tickled me:

Zag: Tonight is Game Night at our house. [Zag is all about games, at least somewhat thanks to our friend J.]
Bean: J is coming over!
Zag: No, he’s not.
Bean: (hitting her brother with a photograph of the First Family) YOU RUINED THE STORY!

Funny but also revealing: inside that busy curly head she is conscious of pretending, of creating stories about our family or her white cat or her fingers or her noodles at supper (worms, and she’s a bird!) or her butt (getting diapered tonight – she’s only in diapers overnight – she decided that her butt was a baby, that I was cleaning and diapering the baby, and that she was its mama).

Those curls… I feel a little bad about the way our family snapshot ratio tends to come out – probably not quite 2 to 1, Bean to Zag, but certainly more Bean. She is, well, awfully cute, but it’s not just that. For one thing, the Bean hangs out with us more than her brother. He’s apt to vanish into his bedroom for an hour or two, mostly reading or building. (I came in to try to get him to do something with me the other day, having gotten his sister to sleep at nap time, and he was just sitting on his bed thinking about what he was trying to build – thinking so hard that he was reluctant to break away and come play with me!) For another thing, she holds still more than Zag does – pausing to gaze, to take things in, to absorb and ponder. Zag at seven is moving much of the time, and when he’s still, his face is bent down over whatever he’s working on – usually a book or Lego, sometimes art or a puzzle or game. He is a handsome boy, it’s just hard to capture his face between the intense motion and the intense stillness. So the Bean is overrepresented in the photographic record of our family life. Ah, well, it will probably come out in the wash.

She just rolled over to tell me,”OTHER people sleep on mats when they are in their jammies.” And a few minutes later, “I wish I could climb up my bed if I was a monkey. I wish I could climb up my bed and stay there, climbing.” Now she’s having me re-tuck her in – she’s currently sleeping under two small quilts, both handmade for her by different people on different occasions, both with patches on the plain side that say they were made for her. She likes the quilts upside down and with the patches close to her face, so she can see them. Now she’s reciting her version of the storyline of Beauty and the Beast, from a (non-Disney) storybook I read to her today. Eventually, somehow, sleep will sneak up on her; I’m not sure our lullabies speed the process along at all.

Good night, little Bean, talky Bean, busy-head Bean. Tomorrow is another day. I love you ever so much. God bless you.

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