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May 2017

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Dear Sophie,

I would ask "how on earth did you get to be five?!" only you've been anticipating it ever since you turned four, so I guess I can't pretend too much surprise. And you did make sure that everyone you encountered knew you were having a birthday that week.

December is always a crazy month, doubly so with your birthday tied up into it, and by now I think you have just about forgotten what it is like to *not* be getting new presents all the time. January may be a bit of a let-down that way I'm afraid. But on the bright side, we're now in the year in which you will turn six, and you're already very busy anticipating that.

We went to see my side of the family for Christmas this year, and you charmed the stuffing out of pretty much everyone you met. You also got to go to your first church service - heathens that your parents are - and you got pretty bored, but still managed to suck up to Grammy big-time by saying how excited you were to go to church for the first time. Little creep. ;) That said, much as everyone appreciated you on your own terms there was a lot of comparison with me at your age, and in particular a lot of people asking if you are reading already like your freakishly precocious mummy was. With the result that you are pretty sick of being harassed about this whole reading thing and have declared that you never want to learn. Sigh.

So no, you're not a baby academic the way I was, but you are certainly busy.  At the moment your main learning concerns seem to be:
  • How to make things, usually out of paper and sticky tape
  • Stories and how they work and what belongs to them vs. real life
  • How to consolidate your already firm grasp on the attention of those around you
which doesn't leave you any time for all this troublesome reading, writing, arithmetic, etc. (That said, you can write your own name with a little help, now, as you demonstrated to me for the first time in church.) Your time in drama class has also shown us all that you can memorize stories and lines with the best of them. The last class before Christmas ended with a small show for the parents, and while on the one hand I wasn't impressed that I had to say a few sharp words to you in front of everyone else in order to get you to behave, on the other hand I was super proud that you wanted to be the first kid to recite the poem you had been learning. Some of the lines were out of order but you did it all by yourself, without prompting, and more importantly you were brave enough to go first. That was pretty cool.

As for the arithmetic, well, we are hoping that starting you on an allowance will help. Eventually. You do have quite a lot of fun spending the money, though you aren't really concerned with the change. It will be a nice surprise for you to have all this savings of money you've disregarded once you've bought something, and it will be sort of fun when you catch on. A few days ago we took you to Cracker Barrel and gave you your allowance in dollars, and let you pick out any toy you could afford; after a bit of decision paralysis you picked a toy that is your new best friend, and you didn't even really notice the whole spending-money part. We'll get there soon enough.

School remains a combination of something you enjoy and something you get fed up with. Although you aren't particularly interested in doing anything if you know it counts as learning, there is still plenty for you to do there. We were asked to put you in German tutoring lessons at the beginning of the year, which you proceeded to be so (albeit cheerfully) uncooperative in that we had to stop them, but in the meantime it did get you speaking German enough that your normal classroom teachers can take it from here. Mostly this has given you another excuse to speak to perfect strangers when we are out and about. And sometimes you even feel like practicing with us - during that same trip to Cracker Barrel you decided to converse with me in German in the bathroom, enough that bystanders almost certainly thought that we were exotic foreigners. That was sort of fun.

All in all you are certainly growing, and doing your best to grow up even though it's sometimes pretty hard for you to remember that when you are five, there are behaviors that you can't get away with anymore like you did when you are three. Some days are wonderful and other days are horrid, but not a day goes by that you are not your full-on 110% self, and pretty much everyone you know adores you for it.


Dear Sophie,

You are four! And boy do you know it. You were waiting for this for months, and would tell anyone you met. Of course, now that the fourth birthday has come and gone you've skipped straight ahead to the anticipation of being...eight. Maybe you are destined to be a computer scientist after all.

Of course the month has its share of confusion along with the excitement - are we celebrating your birthday, or Christmas, or what? There was a strange alternation of your friend's birthday / the Christmas party at Daddy's office / a school visit from Samichlaus / your birthday party / your birthday celebration at school / the school advent concert / a long long wait to get on an AIRPLANE AEROPLANE (you do take after your daddy in vocabulary) / going to visit Grandma and Grandpa, and now tomorrow is Christmas Eve, and well, to sum up, you've been getting presents left and right. Let's just call it Sophiecember and be done with it.

So - another year on from when you turned three, and you've come such a very long way in growing into your delightful (usually) self. To be honest I've thought of you as being "basically four" ever since the tantrums stopped in August and you started your second year of school. You're doing great there, and I'm still amazed at how many kids, big as well as little, can greet you by name. At the beginning of the school year we were told that you were fairly averse to participating in any sort of group activity, that doing your own thing was basically a point of principle for you. Still, the other kids sort of like you, and lately we've been hearing about the fun you have with one or two of the other kids. You did learn an important lesson about group participation a couple of weeks ago, though. The afternoon activity was to make your own Grittibänz, but when it was the turn of your group you preferred to do your own thing, and couldn't be enticed to the kitchen with the others, no matter how much the staff tried. This wasn't really a problem until I arrived to take you home, and you realized that other kids were going home with a Grittibänz or two, and you had none! You were devastated by this really, lying on the floor sobbing. The day was saved when another girl agreed to share one of hers with you, so you got to go home with a Grittibänz after all, but I wonder if you still managed to learn the lesson because you've been a little less stubborn about staying apart, ever since.

It's a strange thing to write a letter to the four-year-old Sophie though. I know you better than anyone else on this planet (and that is pretty darn well, since you are known and loved by so many) and I hear I'm still your best friend (as reported by Grammy when you were visiting her in October), but I hardly know how to describe what you are like. Strong-willed like you've always been, getting the hang of coping when you don't get what you want, an extremely good memory (especially, but not only, for things you have been promised), very good at imitating those adult tones of encouragement, matter-of-factness, patronization, strictness, etc. that grown-ups use on you when you are talking to them, and able to absorb yourself in a game or an activity for a really long time when you feel like. Still, I have as little clue as I ever did about what sort of path your life might take - will you turn out to have the love of music that seemed such a foregone conclusion when you turned three, muted now but still sometimes evident? Will you become a devourer of books like your parents and some of your cousins? Will your love of 'Octonauts' keep you interested in sea creatures and things underwater? Will you keep having so much fun playing 'doctor' that you'll want someday to turn into one? Will your reasonably frequent insistence on dressing yourself mean that you have a sense of style before the age of 25 (unlike your mummy)? Or are all these things passing whims, and will you follow some path that we still can't see any inkling of? These sorts of questions make it hard for me to know what to say when people ask what you would like for your birthday. Or Christmas.

Then again, I can just tell them to get you more Lego, and then you can roll your eyes while your parents spend ever more of their waking hours playing with it.

Lots of love,
Dear Sophie,

Here you are nearly a month beyond 3, and only now do I have a chance to sit and think about writing this next letter. Between Mummy's new job, the house move, your moving from nursery to Montessori school, and the whole round of December Parties, well, the time just got away from me!

If I had to choose a word to describe you right now I expect it would be 'intense', with 'forceful' a close second. If you are sad, you are screaming; if you are happy, you are singing and dancing. There is very little in between. Your schoolteachers and your childminder have been utterly charmed by you, and you seem to like both places. On the other hand, well, you've had to deal with a lot of changes in a very short time and it's clear that this is frustrating the snot out of you (quite possibly literally, given your permanently-encrusted nose...) and it means you're kind of hard for Mummy & Daddy to deal with sometimes.

I've been looking back at pictures and videos from the past ten months or so, and it seems sort of amazing to me that, last time I wrote, I didn't understand very much of what you said. Your language in both English and Swiss German is getting ever closer to fluent, and even though I sometimes have to puzzle out what on earth makes you so determined to go look for some cats at the shopping center, or why you feel the need to get on the bus SOOO LOUDLY, I have no doubt that this is indeed what you're saying!

You also vaulted the Big Girl Bar this year, in your typical intense and unpredictable style, by going all in on toilet training after months of making it clear that you would not even consider the idea and we'd inflict serious psychological damage on you if we insisted on trying. That came as a huge relief after not a little stress, and even the Big Move didn't trigger too many accidents. These days you don't even require us to come to the bathroom with you, although I suspect that is more about wishing to run the water in the sink unsupervised than it is about displaying independence.

And you are still dancing and singing, ever more tunefully. At school you got to be in a proper Christmas carol concert, although admittedly once you realized that you weren't going to be allowed to sing into the microphone like a couple of the older kids were doing, you lost all interest and preferred to listen to the singing while being pushed on the swing in the schoolyard. But the house has been echoing with renditions of Jingle Bells and We Wish You A Merry Christmas ever since, and you carry a tune surprisingly well for your age! You consider the piano a toy reserved for yourself alone (poor Daddy, who spent all that money on it) and have lately been extremely taken with other musical instruments like guitars and violins. I have no intention of turning into some sort of Tiger Mother but I sure hope this musical interest lasts a good long time!

But oh, Sophie sweetheart, the tantrums you can throw. They're really out of all proportion to anything we hear about from any of the parents around us. Just tonight you were screaming your head off for an entire bus journey, all heads turned toward us to see the spectacle, because I didn't let you do something patently unsafe. Daddy had to deal with a 45-minute-long kick-and-screamfest the other day for a similarly random and non-remediable reason. I think we've had maybe one day in the past two weeks that was tantrum-free, and sometimes we have four in a day! I do think you know you've lost control and just don't know how to get it back before you're exhausted, but boy it takes a long time or a sudden shock to exhaust you. Plain old distraction hasn't worked for a while. The only tool I have left is the Toddler Hold where you can't hurt yourself, me, or my glasses, and that is already pretty hard on my back, so I definitely hope you've mastered your temper before you're too much bigger.

Apart from that though, you are super-sweet, super-attached to the people who love you (even if you do treat Daddy rather like rubbish sometimes) and are off to a great start in the grand adventure that is school! I can't wait to see what ideas and interests and capabilities develop inside you in the coming months.

Dear Sophie,

I had occasion to be poking around on BabyCenter the other day, and discovered that apparently kids of your age should be starting to ask simple questions (e.g. "What dat?" and the like.) I always get a little amused / annoyed at how these websites can give pretty much any parent some excuse to fret over whether their children are developmentally delayed somehow, and your speech development is not rapid by any measure. But reading this put me firmly in the "amused" camp. I'm afraid I recognize a little bit of myself in you after all—you take it more or less for granted that you understand the things around you. So why would you need to be asking questions yet?

That doesn't mean you aren't curious, of course. Everything needs to be explored, and poked, and prodded, and manipulated. Preferably without any interference from these pesky grownups who always seem to think you want them to give you a hand, or show you how a thing operates, or maybe just inexplicably want to keep you from bending this bit back that way, which is obviously the thing to be doing here.

A good example of your confident certainty involves the Advent calendar we had from Grandma—a Flash-based thing installed on my computer that had a new video or puzzle every day. You refer to the characters in the videos as the "teddies" (since some of them are) and of course were entirely addicted. So a couple of weeks after Christmas was over, and the "teddies" season with it, you spied my laptop and remembered what wonders it once held, and started pleading for the teddies. There I was foolishly and inexplicably saying that the teddies weren't there anymore, but you just knew that I was wrong and you were right. So with this look of patient explanation on your face you grabbed the laptop, took it to the coffee table, unzipped the case, opened it, and started typing at the screen lock, leading me as far as you could down the perfectly obvious path that THIS is what I needed to do to show you the teddies.

Your daddy was away in California for a good chunk of the last two weeks, so while some of that time was covered with a visit from Grandma, the last few days have had a lot of Sophie&Mummy time. One of the innovations of the past few days has been letting you walk to the bus stop with me and ride the bus to nursery like a big girl, rather than being taken in the sling or buggy. Especially when you are wearing your dinosaur backpack, nothing makes you happier at the moment then walking along with me and sitting in the bus seat next to me and talking and singing all the way there. When I picked you up on Friday, as we walked down a path from nursery, you were talking nonstop and glancing up at me intermittently, very clearly telling me all about your day. I look forward to when I can understand more than about one word in twenty.

The great challenge at the moment revolves around toilet training. We got a toilet seat adapter for you a few months ago, when it seemed you were becoming aware of that sort of thing, but you instantly and adamantly refused to sit on it, ever. So we got a potty in case the toilet was just too intimidating, but you have refused to sit on that too. It's another case where I'm afraid you have thrown Mummy and Daddy for a loop—of all the things we might have expected, outright and instant refusal to even sit on a potty was not on the list. And it's not like you don't have the idea. A couple of weeks ago you saw the thing, and proudly squatted where you stood and said "Tsssssssss!" Last week you accompanied me, and went so far as to pull up your skirt and pull down your tights. But in both cases you refused the step of actually coming into contact with the potty. In some ways it makes the whole thing pretty easy on us. It's clear that there's nothing we can do. Still, Mummy would be a little reassured to know that you will be willing to try before kindergarten.

While she was here, Grandma commented that life around you was like being onstage in a musical—any passing event will prompt you to burst out into song. And occasionally dance. Sometimes I even recognize the song in question, or at least the original inspiration, but you are quite happy to insert your own lyrics involving Mummy, or the kitty, or whatever you are playing with. You are quite the little master of improv, and I still think it's nothing short of miraculous how happy you are so much of the time. It's exactly the picture that I would have needed two years ago.

Dear Sophie,

You are two years old today! The ground is covered in snow just like it was when you were born, and the Christmas lights are up everywhere, but apart from that wow life is different. Two years ago I don't think I could have imagined the you of today, and in those early weeks, quite frankly, it was hard to see beyond my tiny screaming breast-refusenik newborn who was trying so hard to figure out this digestion thing. I couldn't see to five months, much less two years.

But it turns out that all those people who tried to tell me "it gets better!" were right all along. I remember thinking you would always be this solemn mostly-unsmiling creature, and I am delighted to say that I couldn't have been more wrong. Today we had a birthday party for you, a small and cozy gathering of four families, and you were shy initially but once you realized that all the singing and attention and presents were for you, well, you turned right back into the little charmer that you've been since you were six months old.

Pretty much since you were born you have been most keen to work on your motor skills, and figure out how to operate the things around you. This has taken your nerdy parents a little by surprise—while many of our friends have stories about how their kids knew their letters and numbers by the age of two, we've got a kid who can operate a shocking number of clips, latches, buttons, and so on and who knew how to use a big-kid swing and slide down a slide all by herself months ago. It made for an easy choice for your headline birthday present: a shiny red toddler balance bike. It turns out that you're still a little small for the one we got you, since your toes (in shoes) barely touch the ground when you're sitting on the saddle. You dropped the bike and fell over a fair few times when you first tried riding it, and it hurt you a little, but your cries were more anxiety that I would take you off the bike than they were pain. You were *determined* to get the hang of that sucker, and ten minutes later you pretty much had it. You're still pretty precarious, and will be until you get that extra inch or so that will let you stand comfortably, but balance? Not a problem. You'll be riding with the big kids as soon as this snow melts.

That's not to say that you have no interest in books. On the contrary—we have had to step up the book acquisition for you of late, because you can't get enough of them. You'll even sit in your mini Poäng in the living room with a book in your lap, turning the pages and telling yourself (or Monkey or Little Lamb or Jojo) the story that you see there. You don't have quite enough language yet to appreciate the stories that the words tell, but you find the stories in the pictures far more interesting right now anyway.

And your language is starting to take off now. You've had a much harder time than most kids do, because we've sent you to nursery since you were seven months old and they speak a totally different language there than we do at home! If that's not confusing, well, I don't know what is. But you are really starting to get to grips with both languages now, and sometimes you can even get silly old Mummy or Daddy to realize what perfectly obvious word you're trying to say in the nursery language. Only last week it dawned on us that one of your most common "babble" sounds is not babble at all, but a word in the nursery language that means "more" or "again". You've been using that word for an entire year, and we never figured it out until now.

You remain just about the most strong-willed kid I know, and you are infinitely creative in coming up with ways to make it absolutely clear what it is you want. (Which may be a side effect of having language be so tricky for you.) A couple of days ago you decided that it was time for me to be up and out of bed and paying attention to you, so you came into the bedroom (whose door handle you can now reach, as of a week or two ago) and reached up above your head to grab the edge of the duvet and start throwing it back off of me. Just to make sure I got the hint, you took my glasses from the bedside table, unfolded them, and handed them to me ("here Mummy, now you can see and everything, no excuses!") and then resumed pulling on my pajama leg to get my feet on the floor.

But there is a big difference between now and a few months ago, when you'd have done the same thing had you been tall enough, and it is that you are starting to understand when sometimes things can't happen the way you want immediately. You don't like it, of course (who does?) and you don't always accept it, but more and more often we'll get the deliberating look and then a solemn "Yeah" and nod of the head. The world still revolves around you—you are only two, after all—but you are starting to understand that it has rules and limits.

Most of all, you're an intense, cheerful, social, clever, brave, strong, sweet, loving little girl and I couldn't be happier to have watched you become that over the last two years. And I can't wait to see what directions you choose for your incredible self in the years to come.

Dear Sophie,

I have been meaning to write you another letter for at least your past three month-birthdays, but it's really amazing how little energy Mummy and Daddy have at the end of a day with such an active and intense little girl. So let's talk about your last month-birthday, which also happened to be your parents' wedding anniversary. Six years! And for half of these now you have been part of our lives (though mostly in terms of cheerfully kicking me in the ribs for year #4.)

This year's anniversary fell on Sunday, and you decided at 5:30 in the morning that it was time to get up, after a rather bad night for sleeping regardless. Mostly the consequences of this sort of behavior fall on Daddy, but I got up this time too because I'd been gone for the previous week and you still don't entirely trust that I won't disappear on you again. (But honestly sweetheart, I won't sneak away without telling you. Unless it's just to the laundry room and back. Because then next thing I know you'll be making me open the building door and leading me off to Glattbrugg dressed in nothing but my pajama bottoms and an old T-shirt, and we can't have that.) So I knew that even if I did stay in bed it would only be a few minutes before a little head was poking over its edge saying "Mummy! Mummy!" and grabbing my hand to pull me unceremoniously out of it.

Your optimism springs eternal, and you really love to figure out how things work, but sometimes this doesn't quite work out how you intend. Like when you, still in your sleepsuit with your bleary-eyed parents clutching their tea, went to the front patio door and started agitating to be allowed to go out. I looked at you over the top of my mug and said "you have GOT to be kidding, it's not even light yet!" and you paused, looked at me, and then lit up and exclaimed "STHOOOOOO!" [Shoes!] and ran off to find them. Because obviously if you had your shoes on you'd be allowed to go outside, right?

I said in my last letter that I do try to get up in the mornings because there is usually a snuggle in it for me; lately this has become mandatory. Oh, sure, Daddy (usually) tries to preserve as much sleep as he can for me, while you stand patiently outside the closed bedroom door asking "Mummy? Mummy?" with your hands behind your back. Sometimes he tells you that Mummy is still sleeping and usually you accept this, though sometimes it causes you to cry and, well, that'll get me to wake up. But you always get there in the end, being pulled into bed for a snuggle with me but then immediately grabbing my hand to drag your semi-conscious mother out into the living room to PLAY! and SEE things! A couple of weeks ago Daddy had to get to work early, so I woke up at 8:10 to an empty house and it surprised me how sad I was to have missed my morning Sophie-snuggle.

You have been working very hard on getting those last molars through - you know, the ones usually referred to as the "two-year" molars. I can't help but wonder if the teething is correlated to the other major two-year-old behavior we've been seeing from you lately - yes, I am talking about the dread Terrible Twos. You show all the signs, my sweet - whirlwind mood swings, utter meltdowns out of what seems like thin air sometimes and that can sometimes last for an hour, severe uncooperativeness when it is time to change your nappy or put on clothes, and a rather naughty and persistent habit of hitting your parents in the face when you don't like what they are doing. It so happens that you've also been sleeping pretty poorly at night most of the time, tormenting your poor parents with frequent nighttime wakeups, screaming, and then being perky and ready to play before 6am. Molars suck, sweetheart, and I'm sorry you are having to teethe them. But the good news is that after two more, you're done! No more waking with an aching head, and we all really hope that will mean no more waking at night.

At the same time, you have also started giving me real kisses, you love to snuggle (when it's not getting in the way of exploring), you're usually delighted with the world and the things in it, and sometimes I find you kind of stroking my shoulder the way I would casually stroke your back. It's terribly sweet and cute.

You are also working as hard as you can on plain old independence. Stairs hold little problem for you now - you went up 172 of them (yes, ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY-TWO) all by yourself on Sunday, getting most of the way up a tower in a park. We took you up the rest of the way and had a very nice view, and we learned that this is what it takes to tire you out - an exciting restaurant brunch, an hour running around a new and interesting park, and then a 172-step tower climb to round it all off. No wonder we are all so tired by Sunday evening.

You've also started to learn to climb the furniture. And boy do you like to climb. You have also been working on clasps of all sorts - the ones on luggage, the ones on your booster chair, the ones on the sling, the ones on the buggy. It's perfectly obvious to Mummy & Daddy what lies behind this: FREEDOM!! You still hate being constrained as much as you ever did - you (usually) tolerate the buggy as long as it is moving, but once it is stopped you want OUT. Out to explore the bus, to stand on the seats, to walk around and visit the passengers, to go through these interesting doors that have just opened at a stop nowhere near our destination. And it really irritates you that we do not cooperate with you on all this. But you've figured out really well how to put buckles together, and the minute you learn how to spring them loose...just you wait.

All this activity and development has left you without as much attention for language development as some other nearly-two-year-olds. Being in a dual-language environment makes things interesting of course, and new additions to your vocabulary are as often (Swiss) German as they are English, and you understand a lot in both languages. But it's clear that you basically still think of speaking as kind of a party trick - the adults get all pleased when you say some words, but really you have more important things to do most of the time. We started to try to wean you off of the dummy since you are nearly through with teething and, when not in urgent need of it, you tend to forget about it until you notice it again. You've noticed the sudden and annoying dummy scarcity though, because that is one word you will use regularly (albeit in its Swiss German form) to get what you want.

One thing you do love to do is sing, when you're in a good mood anyway. You will sing and dance and clap and usually we don't recognize the tunes at all, but a couple of nights ago you did a shockingly good nonsense-word rendition of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star". Some of my favorite moments are when I'm riding the bike back from nursery in the evening, and there is a little bit of side-to-side swaying in my bike balance and I hear a singing Sophie-voice rising up from behind me.

As I write this, you've been sleeping fitfully for the past few hours but (so far) still sleeping. You barely napped at nursery today, so you were a poor exhausted thing by the time we got home. Rest up, little girl, so that Daddy and I will see your cheerful singing self in the morning.

Around the time of Sophie's birthday, I remember thinking that it would be nice to write her a letter for the future, if only I could think of anything worth saying. I also remember being pretty unhappy with myself for not having a clue on that score.

Lately though, that forceful little personality has started to shine through even the over-analytical blindness of her clueless-first-time mother, so that it starts to seem more natural to address these to her. Here goes nothing, eh?

Dear Sophie,

You're curled up in the next room, sleeping off the exhaustion of another full and exciting day. You had a bit of a furious scream a few hours ago—we finally worked out that you must be hungry, although when you are in that state it seems that the only communication you can manage is to struggle as hard as you can against anything at all, which makes it pretty difficult to figure out the problem sometimes!

In a way that is a mark of your personality now, and in retrospect it always was: you do everything as hard as you can. Back in the bad old days of reflux, it very often seemed to me that even your stomach was digesting as hard as it could, pounding the stuffing out of whatever milk and formula got in there no matter how much acid or gas came back up, and no matter how uncomfortable it made you. Come to think of it, that's pretty much the way you were born—full steam ahead, get straight out of there in three hours flat and damn the consequences.

As you get bigger and learn to do more things, this trait is turning into a real asset for you, and it is fun as anything to watch (usually). The last few weeks have been all about stairs. Up! down! up! down! up! down! You are fascinated with the things, utterly determined to figure out how they work, and the cutest thing of all is that you still try whenever you can to take one step per foot just like the grownups do, if you have someone to help you.

Yesterday we went to Berne for the day, on a train with a play area for kids. There was a set of steps to get up to a tunnel, then when you doubled back there was a slide. And you got up the stairs all by yourself, and then to my amazement you came back down, holding onto nothing but the wall of the compartment! And then the train lurched and you somehow, miraculously, managed to hold onto your balance. Next you'll be climbing trees. (Just don't get it into your head tomorrow to try, okay?)

Of course, this also leads to its share of frustrations. You live life as hard as you can, which means that in the daytime the very last thing you want to do is pause in your labors, miss out on anything at all, for a nap. And boy do you need those naps, sweetheart, as much as you don't want to admit it. This brings me to one of the sad things about the last few months - you are at nursery on workdays, and even you have probably noticed by now that Mummy is not really at her best first thing in the morning (although I do try, since there are usually snuggles in it for me.) So off you go to nursery, and then by the time I pick you up, you are exhausted. Most days you've only slept for something like 45 minutes; the nursery has tried several tactics to get you to sleep longer, but your determined nature means that they never work for more than a few days. (Which is also exactly what happened with any anti-reflux measure we tried.) So this means that, Monday to Friday, most of my Sophie-time is with a super-exhausted little girl who is desperate to keep going her own way and melts down the instant she is thwarted (e.g. by being made to go on the bike when you would much rather be walking around and around the nursery's front yard, or examining other buggies, or pretty much anything as long as you get to be on your own two feet.) You're almost always asleep within an hour of arriving home, and the last couple of days you have slept fully thirteen hours overnight. You needed it, for sure, but it does leave very few of your weekday waking hours for when I'm there.

When I arrived to pick you up on Monday, you were wailing in frustration. It took me a second to work out why: you were pushing a doll buggy, and you had decided to push it up the steep slope in the nursery's back garden, and it WASN'T GOING because it was too steep, and no matter HOW HARD you tried it just WOULD NOT GO and life was TERRIBLE and no one would HELP. So I came and helped you, and we got the buggy up the slope, and you instantly perked up. One of the staff (who had been occupied with other kids) saw this and commented, "She always tries the hard things, doesn't she?"

Keep trying the hard things, Sophie. You've figured out already that that's how you learn.