Tuesday, March 15, 2016

snuggles the explorer

Millie is very much in a must investigate everything phase right now. Especially outside. She spent nearly every waking hour outside last weekend (thank you God for this BEAUUUUTIFUL weather), bent over as she carefully examined tiny things on the ground. She would pick up some microscopic item and hold it so gently in one hand while bending back down to find the next interesting thing.

 When I could convince her to open up her little clenched hands, they were full of tiny pebbles, the heads of dandelions (she plucks the stems off- unnecessary, clearly), acorns, and particularly interesting (apparently) pieces of dirt. 

When her hands are too full to hold any more, she will evaluate the whole yard until she finds just the right place to lay down her treasures. Then she puts them down, and then the whole process starts over.

My little scientist. Be still my heart.

(Lest you think she's altogether too angelic, you should know that most of these things also made it to her mouth at some point, despite repeated reminders about not doing so.)

You know, for the nearly seven years we've lived here, I've never really liked my back yard. I mean, I like aspects of it: the flower beds, the fruit trees, the woods. But it's always irritated me that there's no grass (just weeds, which can be mowed neatly to look like grass in the summertime, haha), no fence, there are WAY too many fire ants, and it's just kind of blah (in the places where there aren't flower beds or gardens, that is).

But to Millie, it's like this bountiful land of partially-buried treasures, a place where she can dig and explore and exclaim joyfully over the weeds-that-look-like-flowers. And I love it. There's still no grass and no fence. The weeds are abundant and the chipmunks and armadillos leave holes everywhere, but when I watch my girl run and laugh and kneel and examine and swing...the whole place is redeemed. It's my acre of paradise, too.

The other night I decided to assess Millie's understanding of her own (multitude of) nicknames. I designed a really scientific system (ooh, like mother, like daughter? Scientists, the both of us!) to determine which names she recognized. I had control groups and everything- my professors would have been so proud. So basically I just say "where's Mommy?"-- and she points to me. "Where's Lola?"-- and she points to Lola. "Where's Nannie? (her grandmother)"-- and she looks around briefly before saying "I don't know!" (or the Millie version of that phrase, which is more like "Iuuunnnoo!!", but inflected exactly like you would expect to hear "I don't know!" and with the accompanying quizzical facial expression and shoulder shrug-upturned palms) "Where's Mill-Mill?"-- points to herself. That's what we call her most of the time now, and what she calls herself, so that's as established as Mommy and Daddy. "Where's Daddy?"-- points to Matt. "Where's Judy? (random name, don't think she knows any Judys)"-- I don't know! "Where's Petunia? (beloved stuffed lemur)"-- points to Petunia. So then after we do this for a minute and it's established that she is paying attention and thinking about the names, we throw in a nickname. "Where's Nuggie?"-- doesn't miss a beat, points to herself. Then you do a few more control names- Mommy, Lola. "Where's Nug-Nug?"-- points to herself. She's on a roll! More control names, then "where's Snuggles?"-- thinks, then points to herself. 

We play this game until she starts losing interest. We did this several different times over the course of a few days and were really impressed with how many of her own nicknames she understood. And only then- after several days of playing, stretching the nicknames as far as I could- then it occurred to me.

"Hey, where's Camilla?"

Looks around the room. "I don't know!!"

Hahahaha. Awesome. Parents of the year. My beloved child will respond to Snuggles and Nut Nut, but has no concept of her given name. Not even a flicker of recognition in the ol' eyes. Camilla? Never heard of her.

And so that's it. I guess the moral of this story is that maybe you should use your child's actual name every once in a blue moon or so. OR- just name them Snuggles in the first place. Then you'll never be in this awkward situation.

If I happen to be on a wagon ride, but I really want to also be holding Mommy and Daddy's hands...well, all I have to do is bat my eyelashes and it happens!


  1. You should def have her name legally changed to Snuggles. Maybe she'd have a professional career as a clown if the scientist thing doesn't work out? We also refer to the inanimate objects Clara gathers up as her treasures, and in fact, she insisted on taking a piece of gravel she found on the playground to a restaurant with us the other night and sat it on the table next to her plate. Funny toddlers! Has Millie taken an interest in bugs yet?

  2. Now I wish we had put "Millie" on her backpack instead, ha! But I'm glad The Toddler Formerly Known as Camilla is taking full advantage of that backyard you weren't able to fully appreciate until now :)

  3. Aw, what a sweetheart! And such a smartie pants, too!! That's so funny about "Camilla". I'm pretty sure my children don't know their legal names either. My mother asked if we shouldn't just formally call Maryn "Sissy", but I was like "who in their right mind would name a child Sissy Sasser!?", haha.

  4. Now that is too funny!! Luckily the only nickname that can be made out of Bowen really is Bo and although we don't call him by his actual name much either at least they do at daycare! haha There is hope! I LOVE that last picture, how sweet!!

  5. That is the most adorable story! She is just too much precious. You need to enlarge that wagon photo and hang it prominently in your home. SO FREAKING CUTE!!

  6. I would absolutely sign a petition to support having her name legally changed to Snuggles. Because a kid that cute needs an equally adorable name to match (not that Camilla isn't a perfectly lovely name, too!). It wasn't until preschool that Andrew learned his real name...in fact, he referred to himself as "Bubba" until just a few months ago. Now we're only allowed to refer to him as Andrew and he makes sure of it (boo!). There is no wrath quite like toddler wrath...

  7. Quick glance at the 2nd to last picture, I thought she was holding a snake and I was like OMG! Hahaha duh it's just a hose! I always thought my mom should have just named me Becky instead of Rebecca. She said she always intended on calling me Becky so she solely caused a lot of confusion and extra work on my part during school every new year to tell everyone my name's Becky and I literally won't respond to Rebecca until you say 5 times because no one calls me Rebecca!

  8. That last picture is a keeper. What a sweetie.

    I love the evolution of nicknames. When Elaina was born, a lot of people called her Lainey Lou or Lainey Lou-Lou. I still call her Lou, and she always responds to it. (I wonder sometimes if people in Kroger think her name is actually Lou.) Ellie got her name, in part, because Josh wanted an "Ellie." It took some work to convince her that her "real" name is Elysia!

  9. And my ovaries officially exploded!!! Drew still carries treasures in her hands (although not as much) and loves to open these berry seed things at my in-laws and carry around as many as she can. Little explorer girls are so sweet!

  10. Nut Nut-HA. I needed that. That redeems all my terrible nicknames for Garrison.

  11. First--she is so incredibly adorable! Second--I am also fearful that our son won't know his name because I think I've used it like 3x since he was born 4.5 months ago. When I say it, it's like it doesn't even fit him. Maybe I should just rename him and use the nickname..le sigh. #firstimeparentproblems

  12. I love that Millie - I mean snuggles, rides around with a pillow in her wagon. Haha!

    We went hiking with Kyle last weekend and he was collecting rocks. When he couldn't pick up anymore he would put them in his shirt. Then pick up more and repeat. They are the funniest creatures!

  13. Snuggles is a great name! I adore that last photo of her looking up at you both from the wagon. What a sweetheart.

  14. I will fifth (or sixth) the petition to legally change her name to Snuggles. Snuggle Nut Nut Your Last Name is perfectly acceptable! Just so you know Rachel wants to change her name to Frozen Chrysanthemum and have every one call her Rosie. Gah.

    Also, Rachel (or Rosie, as she shall be known) still rips the stems off dandelions.


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