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One more thing about that extremely gifted baby. In at least one respect, she is developmentally right on track. That would be the possessive, egocentric toddler track.

Fiona’s favorite word while I saw her was “mine”. Whatever toy Simon wanted to play with at a given moment suddenly became the most wonderful, magical toy ever that Fiona simply had to play with immediately. “Mine!” she’d remind us, then lurch forward and take the toy from Simon. For the most part, Simon simply sat there and looked confused when toy after toy disappeared from his grasp.

Several times we attempted to lay out similar toys before both kids in hopes that Fiona would feel less threatened. Didn’t work. If Fiona had the alphabet puzzle and Simon had the animal puzzle, suddenly the animal puzzle was Fiona’s favorite and one she had to play with immediately. “Mine!” she’d say and then lurch for it, crawling right over her own puzzle if necessary to get to it as fast as possible.

“Fine,” I’d think to myself, and then swap the puzzles. That did not cut it. At the exact moment property changed hands, the animal puzzle lost a bit of its luster and the alphabet puzzle became the best puzzle ever. “Mine!” Fiona would declare, and then pivot to get back to her original toy. This went on for two days.

Clearly, there were only two solutions to this problem. Fiona wasn’t going to be happy until or unless we had exact duplicates of each toy (a strategy my mother employed when she had two boys 22 months apart in age) or we had to leave.

It wasn’t just material goods that put Fiona in a proprietary mood, either. One day Matt looked at Simon and mentioned something about his mama. As in me. But to Fiona, “mama” means only one person, Cindy, and she just about had a fit at the notion that she’d be expected to share Cindy, too. So she screamed “mine” louder than ever, cried, and rushed to encircle her arms around Cindy, the universal toddler mode of laying claim to a person.

I know Simon is cruising into this phase himself. I know its developmentally normal and expected. But boy is it tedious and annoying. As his babyhood winds down, I’m going to try extra hard to relish these last few weeks of innocence before his ego and id are let loose on the world.

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