the smell of my desperation has become a stench

A similarity to her father

I have mentioned this previously, but every morning I set my alarm for seven and when it goes off I turn on the monitor to see if Marlo is awake. Usually she is, and we know this because she talks to herself. I know! We lucked out and didn’t get the grumpy, screaming, bratty kid who doesn’t like to wake up, we just got a schizophrenic one!

(Actually, it’s an Armstrong thing, talking to themselves. As is the inability to stop talking.)

Sometimes she just throws out a word or two, sometimes she sings, sometimes she recites an entire monologue on the state of her stuffed puppy. And the chatter is always happy. She always wakes up in a terrific mood. I’d say you should have kids just for this reason alone, but you may roll that dice and get the grumpy baby, and oops, there goes the rest of your life.

This morning when I turned on the monitor she was in the middle of an exercise of counting: “One, two, four, ten, fifteen, sixteen!” At Marlo’s age Leta knew the alphabet and could count to one hundred perfectly. Marlo thinks every letter is a Y, and as you can see she can’t even make it to ten without taking a wrong turn.

Leta’s future: rocket science. Marlo’s future: rocket bike.

I don’t have to tell you how marvelous it is to wake up to this sound. I was cleaning off my phone today when I found this video I took of the monitor one morning before we went in to get her.

You should probably just go ahead and roll that dice.

  • malisams

    2011/08/30 at 3:21 pm

    Do she and Leta share a room? In my mind, the somewhat large-sounding BUMP followed by PEEK-A-BOO was then followed by Leta saying “…that hurt…”. Am I right?

    Hilarious and adorable, and I can’t wait to roll those dice.

  • dooce

    2011/08/30 at 3:23 pm

    No, they don’t share a room (although their bathroom adjoins both rooms). She was probably flopping around in there, knocked her head on the side of the crib, thought, hmm, wait a minute, that hurt. And then went back to talking.

  • Schnauzie_Mom

    2011/08/30 at 3:23 pm

    Chatty kids turn into chatty adults. Not that I would know anything about that.

    Also, your husband posted this:

    “They are fantastic for under the desk” and then just left it hanging out there. I mean, no wife joke, no assistant joke. Not even a Chuck joke!

    Just me? Ok.

  • HepsterMom

    2011/08/30 at 3:42 pm

    My daughter does the same cheery jabbering… but less intelligible other than “dog” and “mamadada” over and over again (I can’t wait until she decides to say new words), followed by whacking her Gloworm’s head on the wall. Getting any frustrations out early must be her secret to starting out the day with a smile.

  • writtendad

    2011/08/30 at 3:51 pm

    What a great recording to have. Our son was sort of the bipolar morning type. Sometimes happy, chattering and singing and humming, other times pissed off, throwing animals, kicking the crib wall, and yelling through his pacifier “Wanna get o-oout!”

    The singing was much, MUCH better and the “wanna get out” bit was like nails on a chalkboard. But you’re right, moments like that making rolling the dice seem pretty worthwhile.

  • Suburbanitis

    2011/08/30 at 3:52 pm

    I am continually reminded how similar our kids seem to be every time you tell a new anecdote. My 8-year-old son is a totally serious Leta, my 2-year-old a fearless, chipper Marlo. I have even videotaped our own monitor to prove to friends and family what a ridiculous morning person she is. There may have been a hospital mixup; no one knows where that comes from.

  • reymiland

    2011/08/30 at 3:59 pm

    You really should just turn over and go back to sleep and let one of the maids wake her up and deal with her.

  • Sarah Cowell

    2011/08/30 at 4:04 pm

    My son used to do the same thing when he woke up, except he would recite the names of everyone he knew. “Mommy, Daddy, Grammy, Grampy, Gran, Grandaddy, JOHN ELWAY!”

  • prestonk9

    2011/08/30 at 4:08 pm

    Funny, I was just thinking last night I should record my daughter’s chatter, too. She’s about a month older than Marlo and a happy waker and fall-asleeper, with lots of talking. That free-flowing series of song excerpts, counting, random exclamations is one of THE best sounds I can think of. I stand outside of her room and grin like a big goof. Then when I walk in to get her, she exclaims, “All done! I just woke up happy!” Lucky roll, I guess…

  • dooce

    2011/08/30 at 4:12 pm

    @reymiland, you seem to be obsessed with our maids. Should I introduce you to them?

  • WhatForMomma

    2011/08/30 at 4:16 pm

    Bahahaha! “John Elway!” I love it.

    My two year old is also a happy morning person . . . in a toddler bed who can open my door, climb into my bed, jump up and down and say, “Mommy, time to get up! Time to get up! I want milk!” At exactly seven every morning. Wherein I bury my head under the pillow and say, “Just 15 more minutes, mom.”

    Then she goes and gets her own milk and starts the coffee.

  • picklesalt

    2011/08/30 at 4:16 pm

    I’m pretty sure that this, more than anything else ive ever seen, heard, or experienced, makes me want a child so badly.

  • arishell

    2011/08/30 at 5:19 pm

    My daughter (13) still sings herself to sleep. It is wonderful to catch it through the a/c vent. She won’t do it if she thinks you’re listening.

  • janedion

    2011/08/30 at 5:40 pm

    Don’t worry about Marlo; I think second kids are always slower on the academic stuff and then they catch up. My first was like Leta; alphabet, numbers, colors, shapes, he knew them all. My second one, we wondered for a while if he was ummm… challenged or special. And he is fantasic! Just has strengths in other areas, he is super physical and a hugely lovey, fierce, loyal, protective, brave kid. And he is learning all the stuff he has to know, just at his own pace. Marlo is awesome! As a parent of two like you, I am always so amazed to see how different they are and how much they ADORE each other. Lots of good sibling stuff to come. I don’t know how often people say this, I don’t always read the comments, but I’ll say it; it sounds like you are very good parents. Your kids know they are loved no matter what, they have boundaries (this is HUGE), they are celebrated and they are sometimes in the way (High five sister!) PS- am I going to get reamed for the “challenged or special” comment or what?

  • Funnygirl78

    2011/08/30 at 6:21 pm

    Oh that’s such a yummy video- I love hearing their little imaginations working away and how life really is so wonderfully simple and present for them. *Sigh*

  • reymiland

    2011/08/30 at 6:54 pm

    Oh my no! That would destroy the fantasy. One should never actually meet ones hero’s (or their cleaning staff..).

  • Indiana Lori

    2011/08/30 at 7:01 pm

    I too have 1 of each, in the same order. Do you think we super-duper appreciate the 2nd one after spending years talking the 1st one off the ledge? Some days I think, keep the IQ points, because whatever she’s going to make as a brain surgeon won’t cover my therapy costs. Just kidding. Sort of.

  • Kirstin

    2011/08/30 at 7:23 pm

    We have one of the video monitors and my husband really wants someone to invent one with a record feature because watching our 1.5 year old daughter entertain herself is amazing sometimes. After a day at the pool I brought her home for a nap and watched her reenacting jumping in to the pool complete with my counting “one, two, three, JUMP!” and she would then “jump” on to her knees from standing. It melted my heart and I watched her do it for an easy 20 minutes. I’d give any thing to have that on tape! Maybe this should be your next business venture…

  • Marie_Lynn

    2011/08/30 at 7:34 pm

    See my first instinct is ghosts. She must be talking to some ghost child. That is me watching WAY too much Ghost Hunters.

  • pehuff

    2011/08/30 at 8:00 pm

    That is one my favorite parts of my day, listening to my son doing almost the same thing! He puts himself to sleep at night, too, so we usually hear it twice in one day – on a good day.
    So precious!

  • Daddy Scratches

    2011/08/30 at 8:23 pm

    The part about Leta vs. Marlo in the brains department reminded me of this passage I wrote in a letter to my daughter when she turned 2 (which I can’t believe was over four years ago now):

    “Zan has always been verbally and intellectually advanced for his age; you, until only just recently, could generally be relied upon to answer the question “What color is this?” with “Yellow” … even if the item you were describing was a fire engine. Counting? Same thing. I often read you “Goodnight Moon” at bedtime. When I do the “And there were three little bears, sitting on chairs” part, you usually like to point and count how many of those bears are sitting on those chairs. It goes something like this: “Ooooone … twooooo … threefoursixsevennine.” You say this while simultaneously pointing at each of the bears in random order, more than once.”

    We’re hoping she gets a gymnastics scholarship.

  • CalypsoRodeo

    2011/08/30 at 9:16 pm

    Oh my goodness!! How sweet.. My 18 month old will just yap yap yap yap some language he made up and it’s freaking amazing. Sometimes I think.. they’re the ones with the superior skill and we’re just dumbing them down by making them conform to our needs. I am soo going to record my Drewbie-doo the next time I hear him speaking his language. We might find the cure to cancer in his dialect.

  • onemiette

    2011/08/30 at 9:18 pm

    This is a bit off-topic, but what font did you use for the title in the video?

  • noodle12

    2011/08/31 at 5:58 am

    Interesting… I see similar pattern in my sibling’s kids. First child: sensitive, fussy, neurotic and Second child: independant, tough, no nonsense, fearless…

    I wonder how much of it comes from the approach of the parent, you are stressed and neurotic when you are a first time parent and you tend to chill out as the years go by and when second kiddo arrives you don’t fuss over them as much.

    I really just want a second child, because as an adult, I am the epitome of the first child 🙁

    Never been much of a gambler…

  • ahollinger

    2011/08/31 at 7:18 am

    This is so sweet. And I knew I shouldn’t listen because it would make me jealous that my 2.5 year old always wakes up at 12:30am or 2:30am and one of us climbs in bed with him for the night. If we try to go back to bed, he cries and then our whole night is disrupted. Waiting patiently for the day that I’ll hear him chatting in the morning while we’re still in bed. In the meantime, trying to see the glass half full.

  • Erin47

    2011/08/31 at 8:08 am

    Soooo, the similarity to her father is the waking up in a great mood part? Or the struggling with counting and reciting alphabets? I obviously assume the former… but… just wanted to check…

  • ltlepaw

    2011/08/31 at 8:50 am

    lol, Mine is the EXACT same way. However, the counting goes one, two, three, five, nine…so between Marlo and mine most of the numbers are in there!

  • luv and kiwi

    2011/08/31 at 9:20 am

    ♥!!! My heart went goopy when she started playing pickaboo.

  • MarchelineB.

    2011/08/31 at 9:59 am

    There’s something eerie about hearing a child alone in a room saying “peek-a-boo, I SEE YOU”…

    Makes you wonder who, in fact, she is seeing. (Cue scary music.)

  • dooce

    2011/08/31 at 10:31 am

    @onemiette, it’s called Lane Narrow. You can get it here for free:

  • luckymom22

    2011/08/31 at 11:47 am

    My heart clutched hearing this…I miss this. My babies are 15 and 12 now…I remember looking at huge teenagers and not being able to fathom what it would be like to have “children” that age and size. Now I know, love ’em so, but…I miss this.

  • Totah Sam

    2011/08/31 at 1:00 pm

    Are you sure Nicole Kidman isn’t hiding under the bed or something?

    I get this whole THE OTHERS vibe from the video. 😀

  • Absent Minded Housewife

    2011/08/31 at 9:45 pm

    My first baby…he was a genius. Did the whole counting, abcs, walking, talking, early early early, he’s brilliant and aren’t we lucky!

    Now he’s 17 and has to argue with me about how it’s probably impossible to invent water flavored ice cream. He thinks it’s a marvelous idea which people will like. I say it ceases being ice cream. He’s going to invent it anyway. I tell him to enjoy making ice.

    God, babies are cute. I don’t want another one, but god they are comparatively cute!

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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