You’re It

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My husband and I made a trip to the DMV yesterday.

That’s never fun… right?

Well I wasn’t looking forward to it. That’s for sure. But we’d put it off long enough. Finally, after (practically) receiving death threats from the New York DMV, we gave in and got our vehicles registered in Iowa (a task we should have done much sooner but our titles had been lost in the seemingly bottomless abyss of boxes still stacked in the garage from our not-so-recent relocation).

Not only was it kind of hard to part with my New York plates (silly, I know), but who wants to spend a day at the DMV? Last I checked it still wasn’t the happiest place on earth. In fact, it’s usually the opposite of that.

But if you were at the Mills County, Iowa DMV yesterday, you wouldn’t have known it by looking at my kid. Nope.

She was as happy as could be, skipping and hopping and having a grand time running up to random people (as if there’s any other kind at the DMV), smiling and joyfully shouting “I see you!!!”

Yes, she was playing Hide ‘n Seek. And, perhaps by default, the people at the DMV ended up playing Hide ‘n Seek too because a 2-year-old reminded them that it was OK to do so. I was amazed how she so easily transformed one of the most hated places on earth into a magical, whimsical playland in a matter of minutes. She actually managed to make it fun.

It was wonderful to see complete strangers playing along. Some were DMV employees, while others were patrons waiting their turn or simply passers-by. Some were far more serious than others. A few were dressed in business suits, possibly on their way to the court house. They certainly weren’t dressed for play time. They had other things on their minds. But eventually everyone gave in and played. It was nice. A little odd at first but nice.

In fact it rather quickly turned into Play Day at the DMV. Everyone participated. My daughter saw to it that no one was left out. That’s for sure. People, both children and adults, were peek-a-booing at one another playfully. It made it so, for the first time in my whole life, not only did I enjoy my time spent at the DMV but I didn’t want to leave. Have you ever truthfully (and without sarcasm) been able to say that?

Children are wonderful, aren’t they? Who else could make the DMV fun? If an adult had done what my daughter did today, he or she would have likely been arrested or shot with a tranquilizer dart or something. OK, maybe that’s extreme. But certainly they would have received strange looks and maybe even a twirly-finger-around-the-ear type gesture or two.

Perhaps it’s simply impossible to stay serious when approached by a child, smiling from ear to ear with sweet, inviting “let’s play!” eyes and a face beaming with innocence and excitement.

And, really, what better place for an impromptu game of Hide ‘n Seek than at the DMV? Seriously, I can’t think of one… can you?

Granted, the Iowa DMV is nothing like the New York DMV. Sure, they do the same things. But, for example, my husband and I were first and second in line to have our cars registered. Crazy, huh? Even crazier? It’s a holiday week!

In the past, we’ve waited hours (and not just the minimal quantity of hours to technically qualify as the plural form of the word hour but an actual # of hours long enough to fully cultivate an urge to stab yourself in the eye). New York DMVs have serpentines and electronic number machines and dozens upon dozens of lines, each one with a separate function, and hundreds of rows of chairs full of people who honestly look like they’d been waiting for days, weeks, months maybe. My husband and I once waited for over 4 hours only to be told we were in the wrong line and then had to start over. And it smells there! No, not like cookies. And you wait so long that you inevitably become numb to that smell, then eventually you become that smell.

Here in Iowa, like I said, we were first and second in line. I can prove it too. Our license plates are literally one number apart. Weird, huh? I would post pictures but I’m not sure what the rules of identity theft would say about that (and I’m too lazy to look it up). So you’ll have to take my word.

Even weirder? The people there are nice! They gave my daughter a lollipop. Sure, banks do that all the time… but the DMV? Really? And I feel confident that had I asked, they’d have given me one too. The only thing I’ve ever gotten at the NY DMV was a headache and a receipt.

Not to bag on New York. I have huge love for the state and the city, the people (even those at the DMV) included. I’m just saying that maybe, just maybe, they would benefit from an impromptu game of Hide ‘n Seek. Or maybe Tag is more their speed?

Do you remember how wonderful it was to play games like Hide ‘n Seek and Tag? I loved both, especially Tag though I hated being “It.” I still do.

Sometimes I too want to run up to a random friendly face, smile and say “I see you!!” I would like it if someone (preferably not a violent lunatic with a knife) did that for me. But it’s nice being seen. Isn’t it? Who wants to be invisible? Maybe for a moment but not forever.

Or simply tag them “It” so I don’t have to be “It” anymore. Sometimes I need a break from being “It” all the time. I’m sure it’s not just me. Do you ever feel that way? Maybe you and I could share a laugh and frolic together instead for a moment, letting go of the stress of the day. It might be nice to share “It” – whatever “It” is with someone else rather than struggling with “It” or through “It” on our own, or keeping “It” buried inside. The burden of “It” can be a big one. “It” isn’t always easy. Is it? But if we share “It” maybe the burden of “It” will become easier to bare.

Maybe it’s not appropriate in everyday life to break into Hide ‘n Seek or Tag or any other childhood game. Red Rover, maybe? Nah, probably not. After all, we are grownups and we have very serious matters to attend to. We don’t have the time for silly childish things like games or recess or naps.

Well that’s too bad.

But wouldn’t it be great?

Check that. It is great. Life. Who says we have to be so serious all the time? You’re not the boss of me. Saw that one coming, didn’t ya?

I think children have it right. The world doesn’t always have to be such a serious, uptight, stressful place. After all, it’s full of butterflies and daisies and kittens. I want to laugh and be silly, frolic (yes, frolic! what? you don’t frolic?) and have fun. I want to enjoy this moment while we’re in it.

I bet you do too.

So tag! You’re It!!

Bubbles

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If you ever find yourself depressed, sad, lonely, irritated, bummed, unhappy, bored or any of the other negatives, I highly suggest buying a bubble machine.

I recently purchased one for my daughter’s 2nd birthday party. I bought it on Amazon for $36, free shipping, bubbles not included. It was a huge hit at her party and although her birthday has come and gone, we still use it all the time.

I know what you’re thinking… and you’re right. The bubble machine was more a gift for me than for her. True. But she really does love bubbles (almost) as much as I do. I simply wanted to entertain her and see her smile. Her smile makes me happier than anything else in the whole world… even happier than bubbles. And since one of my jobs as her mommy is to make her smile, I decided to buy a bubble machine. So, really, it was an investment. I promise it makes perfect sense when you think about it. But don’t think about it too long.

Sure, I could’ve bought yet another bottle of bubbles with yet another simple bubble wand, but I like to think outside the box. Our new bubble machine makes more bubbles in less time than I could ever possibly blow myself. And yes I said “blow myself.” Take a moment… Breathe through it…

OK, now once you move beyond that, you will see the point I’ve been trying to make is that more bubbles mean more smiles. And to this work from home mommy, more smiles mean everything!

In the interest of entertaining our children, we mommies (and daddies) do the strangest things. But isn’t it also in the interest of entertaining ourselves? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Being happy is important. We should do something each and every day to make ourselves and the ones we love happy.

If you’re like me, many things make you happy. Bubbles are just one (or a million) of those things. I love bubbles. You do too, right? I mean, who doesn’t?

I once told my dad that I love bubbles and he replied, “I once met a stripper named Bubbles.” I love him. My dad, not the stripper. And I am simply assuming the Bubbles in my dad’s story was/is a woman, but then I wasn’t the one who met Bubbles the Stripper and I didn’t think to ask. I’m not even 100% sure that Bubbles the Stripper really exists but if he/she does, I bet he/she is/was a very nice person. I think with a name like Bubbles he/she would have to be.

I challenge you to try to walk through a sea of beautiful bubbles (actual bubbles, not a sea of strippers – although depending on your point of view I guess that could be fun too) without smiling. It’s hard to do, maybe even impossible. And smiling is good for you. It feels good too. Doesn’t it?

Lyla and I will be having our lunch outside today. I will fill up and turn on the bubble machine. As we enjoy our time together, there will be bubbles in the background, up above and all around us. There will be bubbles floating high in the sky, up over the trees, down the street and off into town. It will be magical. People will look up and see bubbles floating and drifting everywhere, smile and wonder, “Where did those bubbles come from?”

Some agitated souls may get irritated as the bubbles pop on their newly washed cars or cause them to have to clean their windows and sunglasses. Those people need the bubbles even more than the rest of us. I am doing them a favor.

A few of the highly curious will follow the trail of bubbles to our house, where they will find us giggling and dancing and popping bubbles with our noses. I will invite them to join us. And they will because people who follow floating bubbles do so for a reason. They want to participate in the bubble festivities. They want to join in on the foamy fun. They want to take a moment and forget the stresses in their lives and the worries which have been weighing them down. They want to focus, if only for a moment, on nothing but bubbles and smile and laugh instead. They want to be happy. I may even manage to convince someone to pretend to be a fish swimming and eating the bubbles. Lyla loves when I do that. I (secretly) love it too. It makes us both happy.

On that note, bubbles don’t taste the best, but they’re a world of fun. Ooh, in the interest of making the world a better place, maybe you could invent tastier bubbles… maybe bubble gum flavored bubbles or perhaps blueberry bubbles. I would buy those! Would you invent those for me? I would do it myself but I’m too busy playing with my bubble flavored bubbles.

The moral of my story is simply that the world needs more bubbles.

I am doing my part. Are you?

Happy Birthday, Lyla!

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Today my sweet Lyla Rain is 2!

It amazes me how much she has grown in such a short period of time and how much my husband and I have grown right along with her. It’s been an adventure, to say the least, but it has also been the most wonderful time of our lives.

In celebration of her birthday, I’d like to share with you a letter I wrote to her just over two years ago as we anxiously prepared for her arrival…

July 29, 2009

Dear Baby,

Welcome to the world! I am so excited to finally meet you and hold you in my arms! We’ve been on a wonderful journey together over the course of the past nine months and it’s been incredible to feel you grow inside of me each and every day. And now we are finally approaching your birthday! The time has flown by and it’s so hard to believe that the big day is almost here.

Your daddy and I have been looking forward to meeting you since the moment we learned you had entered our lives. We still haven’t met you and yet we already love you so much! Words cannot express how blessed we feel.

We’ve been anticipating your arrival for a long time and we couldn’t be happier or more excited to finally meet you, hold you, protect you and love you. We promise that we will take very good care of you, keep you warm and safe always and love you more than anything in the whole world forever and ever.

Mommy and Daddy love each other so very much. Someday, we’ll tell you the story of how we met and a million other stories of all of the wonderful times we’ve shared together. We have shared so many joyful memories and adventures, and the future holds so much more for us and our family. We are so happy to share our lives with you. Our love is special and you’re going to feel that love and happiness every day.

Today is your daddy’s birthday and he told me that all he wants for his birthday is for you and me to be happy and healthy. Bringing you into the world has made us a family and that has allowed our love to grow even stronger. That love will continue to grow as you grow.

You are surrounded by love.

In addition to mommy and daddy, you have very loving grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins who have been anxiously awaiting your arrival as well. Mum-Mum and Pop-Pop Zane (mommy’s parents) and Grandma Vicky and Grandpa Tom (daddy’s parents) are very caring and special people and you are going to be their shining star. The four of them haven’t even met you yet and they already can’t stop talking about you! You also have three uncles to keep you extra safe as you grow up. Your uncles Frank (mommy’s brother) and Wes and Scott (daddy’s brothers) are all anticipating the arrival of their first niece. You are the first granddaughter and the first niece, and that makes you extra special!

With the support and love of your family around you always, you are going to have a full and wonderful life. As you grow, we want you to experience the world and participate in all the awesome things it has to offer. It’s a great big world and we want you to learn, see and experience all of it.

Have fun and enjoy your life. Smile. Be adventurous. Meet new people and make strong friendships. Try new things. Don’t be afraid to fail. Find your passion. Be good to yourself and to others. Cherish your family. Love yourself. Laugh hard and often. Fall in love. Love with your whole heart.

Growing up can be intimidating and even scary at times, and it’s okay to be scared, but keep in mind that there are so many beautiful and amazing opportunities out there and all you have to do is open your eyes and your mind to them. No matter what life throws at you, please always remember that you are loved. You are a very special and unique person and you have so much to offer this world. Someday you’ll have a million memories of your own to look back upon. And, when you do, you’ll smile at all you’ve seen, experienced and accomplished. It’ll all be worth it, I promise.

I love you and your daddy with all my heart. And I promise to love you both forever and ever.

Love (and big hugs and kisses),

Mommy

Happy birthday, Lyla!!

Mommy loves you more than all the stars in the sky and all the fish in the sea, added together and multiplied by three…

and I always will.

xoxo

Target

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My daughter, Lyla, turns 2 in about a week. Today, getting an early start, she decided to showcase her terrible 2s in Target. She had clearly been practicing!

In case you missed it, she was the one who wiggled out of her restraints, climbed out of the cart, tore off her diaper, then ran up and down the aisles screaming and giggling devilishly as she removed random items from the shelves and tossed them into our cart faster than a contestant on the retro game show Supermarket Sweep.

My husband was at home recovering from nightshift so I was flying solo. It was toddler verse Mommy. Sadly, I couldn’t compete. I could hardly even keep up.

By the time we made it to checkout, I was sweating, dizzy, unsure of what I was buying or where I was and desperately in need of both a bottled water and a nap! Lyla was ready for Round 2. When we finally made it home (thankfully the little demon slept in the car), I put her down in her crib, carried in every last bag of groceries by myself, then when my husband woke up I told him all about the traumatic ordeal. His response was, “You can’t let her get away with that.”

Hmm… that didn’t help. It didn’t help me and it most certainly didn’t help him.

Before I go on, let me reiterate the fact that I love my husband and our daughter very, very much. My husband is a wonderful father and partner. He happily works his ass off for our family. Our daughter is the perfect combination of me and him. She gets the good and the not-so-good from us both (pretty much) equally. Now that we’re clear on that, let me also state for the record that they are both Leos. I’m not sure this fact has any true bearing on my situation or any other for that matter, but I sometimes blame astrology when I don’t want to flat out blame a person. It’s a defense mechanism.

As a Scorpio, while I am astrologically compatible in many ways with Leos, I have read that there will be times when they will, without even trying, drive me to the brink of insanity. Well, I was there and back today.

Now back to my rant…

What would my husband have done differently? When I asked him that question, he gave me no answer. I would have loved to see how he would have handled our “little situation” at Target. For that matter, I’d love to see him do all of the things I do on a regular basis. In addition to writing, I am a stay at home mom. I change at least 90% of the diapers, clean up at least 90% of the messes and kiss at least 90% of the boo-boos. Everything I do and everywhere I go, there is a toddler at my hip. I write while my husband works and while my daughter sleeps, both during her naps and through the night. I get an awful lot done in minimal time. I take zero breaks and I get very little sleep.

Like most moms out there, I do what I do with little assistance or acknowledgment. When my family or friends are struggling, I stop what I’m doing to listen and to love. When I’m struggling, I push myself harder. Most times, I don’t have time to complain and besides it usually doesn’t help.

While I try not to criticize those whom I love (I said try not to), I seldom get the same courtesy in return. I try to extract positive feedback and constructive criticism, both professionally and personally because those things, while sometimes painful, help us to learn and grow. I try my best not to take too much of it personally and ignore the negativity. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always work. Like now, for example.

It is challenging enough to take a toddler shopping by myself. And that, by the way, is something I get to do all the time. I wave and smile to the other moms (or stay at home dads – of which there are many!) as I pass them in the supermarket, as our children pretend to drive the big plastic car attached to our shopping cart while we do the pushing and steering. We are kindred spirits.

I often help other parents when their sons or daughters drop their sippy cups for the 100th time, lunge from their arms in the frozen food section, scream for a cookie or a lollipop or a Dora snack or when they have a complete and total meltdown during checkout (or anyplace else for that matter). I like to think that they would help me too and sometimes they do.

My daughter turns 2 next week.

If you were considering criticizing my parenting skills, voicing your opinion on potty training, reading, haircuts, juice consumption, bedtime etiquette or any other similar topic, this is probably not the right time.

If you see me or another parent struggling, please don’t hesitate to help us. For the record, pointing, whispering and staring do not help. Being critical or judgmental isn’t a bit helpful either. And those snide comments… well, I’ll be happy to suggest a place where you can put those.

The terrible 2s are upon us, my friends. What happened today in Target was just the beginning. I’ve heard horror stories from other parents about what to expect next and I’m not going to lie, I’m more than just a little scared!

If you really want to help me, offer to babysit.

What’s That Smell?

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For an entire afternoon, I searched for a very bad smell that seemed to be following me everywhere. It wasn’t until later when I realized…

Yep, it was me.

Isn’t that the worst? Deny if you must, but I’m sure we’ve all been there. Or been “it” for that matter.

Nobody wants to admit being the source of the bad smell. But it happens. So I feel obligated to admit it when it happens to me. I’m occasionally the bad smell. I might as well fess up. There have been times when I’ve skipped a shower, forgotten to apply deodorant or when I’ve passed the point of being able to deny a passing of gas or blame the person next to me – with a straight face anyway. So what? Bad smells happens to everyone!

And since becoming a mom, the smells are far worse than they used to be. I’ve smelled of sour milk, formula, strained peas, vomit, urine, day-old apple juice. Show me a mom who hasn’t?

But this time was worse. It was poop. Gross, I know! Let me explain…

My daughter is going through a pre-potty training phase where she often feels the urgency to rip her diaper off and run around. Ordinarily, this is adorable and funny. If watching a toddler run bear-butted and free, giggling in joy, doesn’t bring a smile to your face then you’re simply not human, or you’re probably not the child’s mommy anyway! Toddler tushies are priceless and, yes, I’ve taken photos and even video of my own toddler’s tush. I hold myself back from posting the pictures in any public forum, on FaceBook or showing them off to friends and strangers. But I have them and I plan to keep them. Someday I vow to embarrass her with them.

But this particular time wasn’t quite so adorable. This time, the diaper was full of poop when she tore it off and before I had a chance to stop it from happening it was already all over her, me, our clothes and everything else!

Of course we removed the soiled clothing, soaked, showered and scrubbed the poop off. Then while she napped (pooped from all the pooping, I guess), I scrubbed the floors and walls. Then I showered again.

It wasn’t until later – much, much later, when I realized I must have missed a spot. And, for the record, there’s no such thing as missing just a spot when the topic is poop because that “spot” followed us around all day. It was everywhere. To be honest, I did not think for a second that it was me. But it was.

While Lyla slept, I continued to clean and disinfect and even lit a candle and opened the windows to air out the place. When she woke up, we went for a long walk on the beach and every now and then I swore I still smelled it – when the wind was just right. I didn’t think much of it, thought it was my imagination rather than a real lingering smell. Later, we ran a few errands together and made a trip for groceries. I’d put the moment and the smell behind us. Or at least that’s what I thought. But in the supermarket, I smelled it again. And others smelled it too. I saw them scrunching their noses in the classic ‘what’s that smell?’ fashion. I scrunched mine back as if to say I smelled it too. Still not wanting to go back home post-poop-episode, we decided to grab a smoothie and a Happy Meal (Lyla loves fries, but who doesn’t?). I swore I smelled it in line, but ignorantly assumed it was someone else. Finally, after enough time had passed for the coast to clear, we went back home.

Then the doorbell rang. It was UPS ironically dropping off a shipment from diapers dot com.

I answered and I could tell immediately the UPS guy smelled it too. He didn’t even try to hide his expression as he literally turned his nose up at me. The smell must have smacked him right in the face when I opened the door. Or maybe he saw the actual spot. He didn’t say one way or the other so I still can’t be sure. Although unlikely, it’s entirely possible because as it turns out he came face to face with it. In fact, his face was almost as close to “it” as mine.

After signing for the package and shutting the door, I noticed the smell was still there. I must have missed a spot, I thought to myself. But where? It seemed to have been following me around all day. That could only mean one thing. It had to be on me.

That’s when I realized a teensy tiny speck of my child’s feces was on my glasses. It had been there the whole time. I’m not entirely sure how it got there or how I failed to notice it. It must have either splattered up onto the wire frame of my glasses (better there than in my eye!) or perhaps my daughter touched my glasses (better them than my face!) with her poopy hands while I focused on cleaning her up. I’d obviously removed them from my face prior to showering but didn’t even think about checking before putting them back on my face. Why would I? To my knowledge, I’ve never before had poop on my own glasses. But there’s a first time for everything, I guess.

So the spot I’d missed was literally right before (or beside) my eyes the entire time.

Next time I smell a bad smell, I’ll know to check there first!

The Squirrel

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We have surround sound. Well my husband does actually but, since we’re married, it’s technically 50% mine. I don’t know much about it or what all the doodads and thingamawhats are called, but recently I performed surgery on one of the speakers. He wasn’t home at the time or I’d never have gotten away with it. But it had to be done, and you’ll understand why in a moment…

The particular speaker in question is the self-standing kind, the one that sits all alone on the floor beside the TV. It’s black, rectangular and not very tall, but just tall-or-small enough to have recently become a piece of furniture to my daughter Lyla. It’s quite stylish actually and fits in rather nicely with her other living room furniture, including her bean bag chair, rocking horse and Sit n’ Spin. To her, the speaker is a multipurpose table. She sits beside it, rests her snacks upon it, plays with her toys on it and occasionally climbs on top of it. But I hadn’t realized until recently that her new “table” also converted for storage.

While relaxing on the couch one day, my husband spotted something inside the speaker. He said (and this is a direct quote), “Hey, do you see that nipple?” I didn’t see it at first but on closer inspection, I did indeed see the nipple. The nipple in question was attached to a baby bottle. It was inside the speaker. How did it get in there? Well, we had an idea… the culprit had to have very dainty hands and fingers small enough to fit through the tiny, tight round opening. I imagine, to Lyla, it was like a toddler’s version of the board game Operation.

It took us a while to retrieve the bottle, since neither of us could fit our adult-sized hands inside. Once we finally got it out (a combination of gravity and kitchen tongs), we learned it was half-filled with moldy apple juice. Ewwwww! There was no way of knowing exactly how long it had been there. Let’s just say, the juice and the bottle had both seen better days and, sadly, neither was worth saving.

Every once in a while we run low on bottles. Nipple rings go missing too. It’s as if they disappear into thin air, and now I know why. Lately, other things have been disappearing too. I have a sneaky suspicion who’s to blame, but I have a feeling she has other hiding spots not yet discovered. Of course, the speaker continues to be among her favorites.

It’s only a matter of time before I find my cell phone in there.

Just yesterday, I was about to run the dishwasher and decided to do a last minute bottle roundup. I found two in her crib, one under her crib and, as suspected, one in the speaker.

But this time, it wasn’t just one lonely juice bottle. The speaker was completely full. Its contents included: 1 juice bottle, this time no mold; 1 Weeble Wobble; 1 red crayon; 1 sock; 1 piece of partially chewed celery; 3 animal crackers; 2 broken pretzel rods; 1 lollipop; 2 cubes of cheese (yuck!); 4 Teddy Grahams; countless Cheerios.

This is the reason why my husband has started calling our daughter The Squirrel.

Lyla Calling

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When I was a teen, my parents complained that I was always on the phone. It’s the classic battle between parents and adolescent girls. My daughter Lyla is just a toddler, and I can already relate.

Last week, after searching for my cell phone for nearly three days, I finally found it inside her crib, under her pillow. She’d managed to somehow smuggle it in there and hide it. She made good use of her time too, managing to change my ringtone, make a few calls, and delete my incoming call list (leaving me no way of knowing who may have called). Last but certainly not least, she took two pictures of the ceiling in her nursery and one of her hand. While impressed, I was also grateful that she hadn’t yet figured out how to get into my voicemail. I’m sure she would have wreaked all sorts of havoc there too.

It probably goes without saying that Lyla loves playing with phones. Any phone will do. Cell phones, blackberries, land lines, mine, yours; she has no preference. She has plenty of toy phones, and she practices on them. But, she prefers to play phone on real phones.

While playing, she occasionally dials out. If you’ve called me recently, she might even call you back. Typically she dials the same people, mostly relatives and friends, usually those on speed dial, but she also likes to switch it up every now and again by pecking randomly at the caller ID list or by making selections from my contact list. She’s partial to names that begin with the letter “A.”

Whenever our home phone rings, she runs to answer it – not a problem when it’s someone familiar. But, about a month ago, a telemarketer called and she answered. My plan was to let it ring until the voicemail picked up, but she felt compelled to take the call. I assumed that the caller would realize she was too young to buy whatever he was selling and eventually hang up, but he was persistent. My daughter listened politely to his whole pitch before handing me the phone, at which point all I heard was, “can you put your mommy on the phone?” At least she listens and takes direction! Not planning on buying the New York Times, I apologized profusely and hung up.

About a week ago, we were at the pediatrician’s office for Lyla’s 18 month checkup. While she and I waited our turn in the waiting room, of all places, the office phone rang. Before the receptionist had the chance to answer, Lyla had already put her own hand to her own ear and said, “Hello?”

To be fair, she actually says, “Huh-whoa,” but still.

Whenever our home phone rings and I answer, she mimics me (or mocks me, if you will). She runs around me, in circles, with her little hand to her ear shouting “Huh-whoa? Huh-whoa!” the whole time. It’s 100% impossible to ignore.

On Friday, she was playing with my cell phone when she, accidentally or perhaps on purpose, called my husband’s cell. His is usually the last number dialed out, so that was an easy one. When he answered and realized it was her calling and not me, he expected to at least hear me in the background laughing. When that didn’t happen, he quickly dialed our land line from his blackberry (AKA: his work phone).

“Are you with Lyla because she just called me?” he asked. “She’s playing in the other room,” I replied as I promptly ran from one end of our apartment to the other. We live in New York. Believe me, it wasn’t far. When I got to her, she had my cell phone in one hand and our second house phone in her other hand. My husband voice echoed through both. Lyla had removed the land line from its cradle and “answered” it. When I entered the room, she looked up at me innocently and handed me the home phone, as if to say “it’s for you,” while maintaining her current conversation with her daddy on my cell.

In all fairness, friends and family frequently call and ask to speak to Lyla. She’s an excellent conversationalist. When her grandma calls, Lyla walks away with the phone, takes it into her nursery for a little privacy, sits on the floor and has a full conversation. She says things like “bubble” and “cookie” and “baby.” Her grandma listens intently and occasionally propels the conversation forward with questions like, “can you say puppy?” Lyla responds accordingly. After 30 minutes or so, depending on how chatty Lyla’s feeling, eventually she simply says “bye” and hangs up.

I think back to the time before Lyla entered my life, back when I knew everything. A close friend and I, both childless at the time, were having a typical conversation about kids these days, and I recall saying something like, “Well, part of the problem is that 14 is way too young to have a cell phone.”

People often say that motherhood changes you. And, maybe I’ve changed. But these days, I have to laugh when I hear myself wondering out loud, “Is 18 months too young to be added to our family plan?”