About one year after I embarked on my legal career as a junior associate at a major international law firm, I had to submit an article for the annual internal newsletter. It was sort of like a hazing ritual for all new lawyers. I wrote the piece below ten years ago, in March 2003, when I was practicing transactional securities law and starting to question what the hell I was doing with my life. Funny how it took me ten more years and another couple of jobs to finally realize that maybe this attempt at work-life balance was just a crock of shit (at least for me).
In retrospect, the article constituted the unofficial start of a side gig writing about my girls (although back then it was just my one girl).
“Ten Things I Want to Always Remember About My Two-Year Old Daughter, Chloe”
At first, I thought I would write about my experience as a first-year lawyer working on a reduced schedule. I quickly nixed that idea, as I still do not know how I feel about that experience. Then I briefly thought I would write about France. I even considered writing about the President’s Day blizzard. But none of these ideas inspired me. I did not have enough time to conduct research for an article, whether it be an informal survey of life on the 36th floor or an exegesis on the merits, or lack thereof, of a show like “Joe Millionaire.”
As I was pondering all of this, I decided that if nothing else, I would choose a light-hearted subject. In today’s world, where talk of the next terrorist attack and war with Iraq is an inescapable part of our daily reality, I knew that if I had to spend a few hours writing an article, I wanted to make myself laugh while writing it (even if no one else laughs reading it).
I have four photos of my daughter, Chloe, in my office. Every time I look at them, I smile. I realized that it would be fun, for me at least, to capture her two-year old antics on paper, before they become a distant memory and are simply forgotten. I also thought that it would be a useful piece of paper to have when Chloe introduces us (sometime in the very distant future) to her first boyfriend.
So, in no particular order, there are ten of the things I love most about Chloe.
(1) She is too young to realize that I cannot draw to save my life. But she grins enthusiastically and has me draw oodles of mama-, papa- and baby-sized trees, flowers, dogs, cats, elephants, worms, butterflies, cows and smiley faces. For a fleeting moment, I think I know how Michelangelo must have felt as the chosen artist of the Medicis. In that same fleeting moment, I also wonder whether instead of going to law school, I should have purchased an easel.
(2) Recently, I was sleeping in after a late night at the office. Suddenly, I heard the creak of my bedroom door, the patter of little footsteps and finally, a little voice saying, “Hi.” There she was, my Chloe, all smiles, after climbing out of her crib for the first time. I subsequently learned that my daughter is a monkey. My babysitter caught Chloe in action. She put one leg over the railing, and then the other. She then wrapped both appendages around one of the crib slats and slithered down.
Interestingly enough, she has not climbed out of her crib since that day. We attribute this reluctance to confusion, because we lowered the rail after the first incident, figuring that if she were going to do it again and fall, at least she would not fall as far. We think that she has not quite figured this out yet. I give her another week or two.
(3) Last night, I came home to find Chloe playing soccer with the babysitter, using an empty box of Kleenex. She was very excited about her newly discovered ability to kick, and did so with gusto and joy. She has since graduated to kicking real balls. Mia Hamm, eat your heart out.<
(4) Chloe is very enthusiastic about her “potty.” She has not yet mastered the art of toilet-training, but she likes the idea of it. Especially since it has become her newest delay tactic in the fight against going to bed. “Pee-pee,” she cries gleefully immediately after we have put on her pajamas. Doubtful of her sincerity, but wanting to encourage her, and naively, but hopefully, thinking that she may really have to go, we pull off her pajamas and her diaper and she runs to the bathroom, sits on her potty, and pretends. She then stands up, at which point we say, “OK Chloe, time for bed.” To which she responds, “No, pee-pee,” and proceeds to sit back down on the potty. She has us going for an embarrassingly long period of time before we finally wise up to her tricks, but only temporarily of course, because the following night we are more than happy to repeat the ritual.
(5) Chloe is a two-year old mischievous devil. We took her with us the other day to the mall, where my husband was trying on a suit. Chloe’s favorite color is blue. She loves my blue wallet, and she loves the Oxford Health Plan insurance card that I carry in my wallet – because it is blue. While we were busy with the suit, I stupidly gave her the card to keep her happy (she was actually doing really well, but starting to show signs of an eventual meltdown). The card kept her happy, too happy in fact. She proceeded to insert it into a narrow opening between the mirror and the wall in the dressing room until finally, the card disappeared. We attempted to retrieve the card, to no avail. The mirror was double-taped to the wall, and we could not push the card out. Not a huge deal, of course, in the scheme of all possible things that can go wrong when a toddler is in tow. I did, however, mention it to the salesman, who took Chloe’s misdeed very seriously. He called the loss prevention manager, who came down, armed with a wire hanger and a flashlight. After 30 minutes or so, and just after we had given up and returned to the car, we got a call. Mr. Loss Prevention Manager managed to retrieve my insurance card. This whole experience has not prevented my daughter from her continued experiments with credit card-sized cards and narrow openings (one was lodged between two books in our bookcase until this morning when she came to the realization that by removing the books, she could get to the card), but it has taught us not to entrust her with any credit card-sized card we care anything about.
(6) We recently bought Chloe a super-hip pair of Nike slip on sneakers (that’s right, no laces or velcro). They are Chloe’s favorite shoes, because they are blue. My husband and I were immediately attracted to them because they are so easy to get on and off of her feet. And there lies the rub. Too easy. Over the weekend, my husband and Chloe went on their traditional Sunday morning outing – the Whole Foods supermarket. Not particularly exciting, but Chloe likes it well enough because she gets to munch on all sorts of goodies while daddy buys food. Chloe was walking alongside my husband, who must have been concentrating more than usual on his selections, when he suddenly realized that one of her sneakers was missing. My husband spent 20 minutes combing the store to find her shoe. Just as he was giving up hope of finding it, he asked the woman at the customer service counter if anyone had turned in a toddler-sized Nike sneaker. Sure enough, a sympathetic person found the shoe and turned it in. My husband’s faith in fellow Whole Foods shoppers renewed, he paid for the groceries and superglued the sneakers to Chloe’s feet when they got home.
(7) My daughter has no interest in TV, but she is a fan of videos by “The Wiggles,” a group of four thirty-something men from Australia who make fools of themselves (and earn tons of money) singing songs and performing skits for the toddler set. In addition to the four men, one of the regulars is a pirate. Chloe loves the pirate, Captain Feathersword (he walks around tickling people with his sword, which actually looks like a feather duster). It is very funny to see Chloe dance to songs with titles like “Hot Potato, Hot Potato” and “Yummy, Yummy.” What is funnier (and also a bit pathetic) is that I have caught myself, on several occasions, singing the songs too. Those of you who are familiar with them will hopefully come to my defense – the tunes are very catchy.
(8) When Chloe is feeling tired, I love it when she places her head in my lap. She sucks her thumb and rests…for about two seconds. For those two blissful seconds, I am Chloe’s pillow. Suddenly, she leaps up, reinvigorated after her two-second cat nap and starts running around the house, leaving me feeling cheated.
(9) I love talking to Chloe on the phone. Especially when I am busy at the office and know I will not make it home to see her before she goes to bed. She has perfected the art of blowing kisses. Granted, she is too young for the two of us to engage in a real conversation. Our exchange generally goes something like this:
ME: Hi Boo Bear.
ME: Are you having fun with Esperanza today?
CHLOE: Ouiiiii (Chloe’s father is French, so she has decided she prefers ‘oui’ to ‘yes’).
ME: I love you, Chloe.
CHLOE: Wuv you. [Sound of kiss.]
ME: Love you. See you soon.
I usually continue to talk and further confess my undying love to her. More often than not, I find myself talking to the air, as Chloe has long since returned to her toys.
(10) The best part of my day is when I arrive home from work in time to see Chloe in action before she goes to bed. Usually, she is building Lego towers in the living room with my husband when she hears the front door open. She runs to the stairway railing, where she sits down, legs dangling, waiting (eagerly, I like to think) to catch a glimpse of me in the staircase. She starts yelling, “Hiiii!” before she even sees me. Once I make it up the stairs, she no longer has any use for her daddy (admittedly, the same holds true when I have been playing with her and he is the one to come through the door). I remove my coat, the two of us sit down on the floor, Chloe says “coloring” and pulls out her sketchpad and pens, and I get to work, drawing oodles of mama-, papa- and baby-sized trees, flowers, dogs, cats, elephants, worms, butterflies, cows and smiley faces. And I think to myself, life doesn’t get any better than this.