I have been on this planet for 17 months, 3 weeks and 3 days. I have learned to crawl, to walk and to run. I have mastered the magic words "encore" and "dada" and know a dozen more in two languages. I understand more than you think, and I know exactly what you're saying when you talk about me over my head. I have sharp eyes, sharper ears, strong arms and legs, and I'm even starting to grow a real head of hair.
To put it bluntly, I wasn't born yesterday, and I'm here to tell you, the world as I've observed it so far is not exactly fair.
Let's start with the incessant interdictions. I've been watching you for months, and I'm pretty sure I can manage some of the simpler household tasks. If there's a button to push, laundry to empty out of the machine, a door to unlock or shoes to put on, I've got it covered. So why do you pull me away when I'm about to turn on the stove? Why do you grab the CD from my hands when I'm about to put it in the stereo? And why, just when I've discovered how to use the chairs to climb onto the dining room table, do you put all the interesting things away?
I am big! I truly am! You saw me pick up the sharp knife in one hand and the grapefruit in the other, ready to peel it apart just like Daddy. So why, maman, did you gasp and yell and swoop in and end my fun?
I've also discovered that there's a time for everything, and it is never my time. I want to run around the apartment in my pajamas, and you change my diaper and dress me for the day. I want to sing songs, and you put me down for a nap. I want to rip a roll of paper towels into shreds, and you want to spoon something green and runny and smelling of spinach into my mouth.
This has to end.
This is a new year, and we need a new understanding. So I'll let you in on few things, in terms that even a big person like you, maman, can understand.
1) When I want Daddy, I want Daddy. You'll know this because I'll yell dada right in your ear.
2) When I want you, I'll cry and throw myself at your feet. Just because I said maman once doesn't mean I'll be using it regularly just yet, so quit looking hurt and asking me "And who am I?"
3) Singing "Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush" does makes some tasks easier, so keep it up.
4) Down is down. Up is up. When I want up, I want up. When I want down, I want down. Is that so complicated?
5) It takes us a good fifteen minutes to get organized and bundled up to go outside to the park. Do you honestly expect me to keep the goal in mind for that long? I would be patient, but half the time I can't remember why you're trying to stuff me into the snowsuit.
6) The other side of the closed door is always the most interesting.
7) When you say "no," I understand "I have one more try before she comes and stops me."
8) Throwing myself on the ground and howling helps. It just feels so huge, you see, the chagrin of not being able to do what I want. I want to show everyone what that feels like by pounding out my frustration.
9) Falling asleep is hard. I've just discovered that the world is vast and my powers are great, but everywhere my attempts to master it all are foiled. Imagine trying to wind down from days of such highs and lows.
10) I love you and I know you love me. Even when tears are streaming down my cheeks and I'm struggling with all my might to escape from your grasp because you're trying to put on my pajamas or my coat or subject me to some similarly intolerable injustice.
As hard as it is for you, it is even harder for me. You know that it will be over in a month or so, and that this is neither the last nor the hardest challenge waiting for us.
Imagine what it's like for me.