I suppose it had to happen eventually. Naively, I hoped that it never would. Does every mom secretly hope that her child will magically be the exception to every childhood trial and tribulation? Obviously, I do. But it is official. Zoe has tantrums.

Thankfully (so far) they are not the 20-minute-lying-on-the-ground-kicking-and-screaming-till-you’re-blue-in-the-face kind. But they’re loud and strong enough to make us a wee bit insane. They mostly happen when she doesn’t want to get in her carseat or have her diaper changed. Thanks to wise advice from lots of experienced parents, we are trying a variety of strategies, with some success, to head them off. But sometimes you have to have your diaper changed, whether you like it or not (and it turns out you do not like it—at all) and sometimes you don’t have the luxury of 30 minutes in which to leisurely decide to get your diaper changed. So there is screaming and kicking, and then eventually you have a clean diaper. Then suddenly, like a passing shower, you are back to your old sweet self, asking politely for a cup of water and saying thank you when you receive it. Thank God you’re so cute.

One thing that’s funny is she’s very upfront and matter-of-fact about it all. A few nights ago I had been trying to put her to bed for a long time and was at the end of my rope, so Randy came in to relieve me. After I left Randy asked her what had happened. “Mommy told me to get into bed. But I said no. I was crying because I didn’t want to go to bed.”

Aside from the dramatic increase in demonstrations of fierce independence and willfulness, Zoe has had and been a lot of fun in recent weeks. During the last week in June we went to Deep Creek Lake in Western Maryland for vacation with friends, which was fabulous. Their daughter is nine months older than Zoe, and they’ve certainly played together before, but they were mostly playing next to each other. Now they’re actually friends! They spent hours on the screened porch serving each other and us tea and various pretend meals. Zoe likes everything to be flavored vanilla: tea, hot dogs, garlic, eggs, etc. I’m not sure why there are always large heads of pretend garlic in kids’ toys, but there are. Anyway, Zoe will accommodate with chocolate or strawberry on request. They also built a variety of structures with lego blocks, including houses, castles, cars, big-girl beds, cradles, and monsters. They played in the sand together and did remarkably well with the whole sharing thing. Zoe loves to collect rocks (she calls them treasures) and there were plenty at the beach to satisfy her. One moment that made us proud was when Nora wanted some rocks in her bucket just like Zoe had. Completely of her own volition, Zoe gathered a bunch of rocks and put them in Nora’s bucket and brought the bucket to her over on the towel where she was having a snack with her mom.

Thanks to the calm waters of Deep Creek Lake, Zoe was totally excited to swim and not afraid of the water at all. She wore her life jacket (this is the trendy swim accessory for kids now—it’s a little cooler than the ones you would wear to go boating) and her fish swim ring (which she named Leslie) and eagerly ventured out with Randy and me. And then she decided to ditch Leslie and did a pretty close approximation of swimming and floating with us, laughing all the way.

Although Zoe has napped in the same room as her friends at daycare for a long time, last week was the first time she shared a room with someone her age at bedtime. We weren’t sure how it would work but both sets of parents hoped it would. The first night we read stories together tucked our respective girls into their respective beds, sang a few songs, and crept upstairs. We listened in on the monitor, wondering what would happen next.

“What did your Daddy sing to you?” … “My mommy doesn’t know that song.” … ”Does your Daddy know the words to “Amazing Grace?” … “What’s your doggie’s name?” …“My doggie is named Ralph. What’s your monkey’s name?” … ”What are the names of your dollies at home?” … (in unison) “TWINKLE TWINKLE LITTLE STAR…” “OLD MACDONALD HAD A FARM…” … “Zoe, what are you doing?” … “I don’t know!” and lots and lots of giggling. And eventually, from Nora, “Zoe, be quiet. It’s time to go to sleep!” Every night one parent or another would go down, usually at least twice, to encourage the girls to go to bed. Eventually they slept. We weren’t too upset. We were pretty happy and amused to listen to them chatter. Every morning began the same way. They would wake up and start talking and singing and wondering when we would come get them.

This past weekend we celebrated my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary, happily joined by my sister and brother-in-law who are in town for a few days on their cross-country sojourn preceding their move to Taiwan in the fall (Aaron’s going to teach for a year at National Hsinchu University). Zoe is delighted to hang out with Zannah and Uncle Aaron again. Sunday afternoon she was exploring my parents’ newly cleared out (from its previous overgrown to jungle proportions state) back yard. She found pine cones, rocks, sticks, and various creatures. She was wandering around under the supervision of Uncle Aaron and they made it to the front yard. I wondered what they were up to. When we were ready to leave we walked to the front and discovered that Aaron had been instructing Zoe in gardening techniques. Her clothes were soaking wet. I asked her what she had been doing. “I was playing with Uncle Aaron and spraying myself all over with the hose!” she exclaimed proudly. “Were you watering the plants?” I asked. “I was watering the plants too,” she said.