Toddlers and Books

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As of today, it feels official: our girl is transitioning from baby to toddler. I’m excited, nostalgic and filled with joy as I watch her growing mobility, understanding, interactions and personhood emerge.

Some signs of toddlerhood, and plain old cuteness:

Toddling. That is, walking is now her dominant form of motion. And as of today, she is mainly wanting to walk unassisted. The result is a short adorable little body wobbling determinedly back and forth around the house, taking corners, picking up speed, waving her arms (we sometimes call her our little zombie for her wobbly arms-out-in-front walk), smiling and motoring.

Carrying things. She can now carry things while walking. Her favourites are bags, which she LOOOOVES to fill with things to carry. This brings us to her other favourite activity:

Filling and emptying containers. If it can be taken in and out, she will love it. Socks in and out of a basket. Books in and out of a shelf. Tiny toy pencils in and out of the toy matrioshka-variation I have that she played with today. Anything and everything in and out of the bags and baskets we have for her around the house.

Game playing. More than ever, she is engaging in fun and fanciful play with the world. Her stuffed toys are becoming more real to her as she wants to feed them, has us give them hugs, puts diapers on them, and on and on. She also loves all kinds of physical games with us, including a new favourite: giving mama a zrbt on the tummy.

She also loves books! particularly mama-books. Whereas when she was younger I couldn’t let her near a paper book because pages would be lots, now she can be trusted to hold and play with a book, flipping the pages, opening and closing it. Tonight she spent a long time walking around holding one of my young adult books (a Chalet School novel), walking with the book open. A walking reader like her mama? I do think so! Husband found her in the bathroom sitting cross-legged on the change pad with the book open in front of her!!! I am thrilled to see how comfortable she is with books, and melting inside at my adorable girl and the thoughts of all the future reading adventures ahead of us.

Which brings me to the other important topic for today: books. I bought some books on our trip. Yes, I did. About 10 – 12 of them. I know, we’re supposed to be decluttering, but books … aaah, books. My focus this time was on building a children’s library. I picked up some Nancy Drew, some Little House (can’t believe I don’t have these!), one Anastasia (aaah, more happy memories of immersing myself in her Cambridge/Boston/house with a tower world in childhood summers). Today I had the chance to integrate the books into my children’s collection, housed in one box and several shelves. I found 2 duplicates and one replacement book which I got rid of (10 in, 3 out??). I also made a list in my daybook of what I have and what I still want/need to get (Little House, a few N. Drew, Lloyd Alexander, Betsy-Tacy books, Bobbsey Twins, Donna Parker, Trixie Belden (okay, the last 3 not priorities but possibly fun, and possibly more for me than baby :)), and the Penderwicks series by Jean Birdsall (LOOOVE these books! a new classic, brought to my attention by a friend who’s her step-son. I read the first two while pregnant and it was one of the most grounding, nesting, soothing, rejuvenating weekends of my pregnancy). Also have noticed that my copy of Emma has gone and MUST replace this.) There is one other series I want and the name escapes me … boat something, ransom swallow … I can’t even remember what they were about but really enjoyed them. I’m sure some children’s lit-savvy author will know the series from those few words above.

I know there are libraries. But there is something about a home library that feeds my soul. As well, lots of the books I would love to make available for my daughter are not commonly found in libraries anymore. The Betsy-Tacy series by Lovelace, for example, aren’t stocked my our regional library anymore, though I read them repeatedly from their collection when I was a teenager. Donna Parker, Trixie Belden … yes, probably extremely dated gender roles BUT thankfully sex-free fun teenage escapism. And some books you just need to have on hand for when you get a sudden urge to return to an old favourite.

It was so affirming today to see my baby playing with my books and toys. The pencil toy was one I’d brought back from Russia about 15 years ago with the thought that my children might play with it some day. For years I thought that day would never come, and now my daughter is doing this. I talked her through taking out the pencils, helped her line them up, showed her how to put them in and shake the big pencil, and watched her play and walk around with them in delight. Similarly my books which I saved from childhood for my future children. 20+ years of book storage finally beginning to make sense. I hope some of these become books that she can love, grow with, share and pass on to her friends and ultimately children.

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