When I met Cricket, I thought this was the most advanced 2.5-year-old I'd ever met as far as verbal skills, motor skills, and general independence. It made it easy to treat her like an older child and talk to her that way. I have to consciously remind myself that she is only two.
Then over time, I've had to remind myself that emotionally, she is a baby. Yes, I read the training materials about an 8-year-old being emotionally stuck at 2, sexually at 12, educationally at 5, etc. But it still surprised me when this fiercely independent girl showed more of her baby side. Some of it has always been there, like rocking or carrying her to sleep at times. I tried babywearing early on in her placement with us, and currently it's a morning routine for the 15 minutes or so that I'm getting breakfast ready.
Some of it has intensified, as she did ask me to carry her and hold her often early on, but it has grown to probably 30-40 requests to carry her every day, or "hold me like a baby." I carry her for five seconds most of the time, but say yes as much as I can. Rhinoceros often chimes in to be carried, too. It's exhausting. I have found it to make life easier at transition times, like leaving places, especially leaving places that someone else was caring for her and I came back to pick her up, like church nursery and the community center where I exercise.
But it took a new turn a little while ago when Cricket asked me to "tuck her in." It wasn't bedtime, but it was clear she wanted to pretend it was, and she started with baby talk and crawling around. I played along and tucked her in on the couch, and as I walked away, she intentionally rolled off the couch and cried. A cry that I've never heard in a child her age, not a pretend baby cry, not a sincere toddler cry, but somehow a sincere baby cry. I comforted her and asked her what Baby Cricket needed, etc. I asked at one point if she was hungry, and we went to the table and she clearly and seriously asked me to feed her. I did, and she was content with it, not acting silly at all. She also crawled around and would suddenly lie down, crying as if she was trying to crawl but couldn't.
We've had a couple other "playing baby" sessions since. It is intense. I feel like I should have the education of a therapist, and maybe a strong cup of coffee before it all starts. Especially because Rhinoceros parallels the play and also needs picked up, also needs attended to when he cries.
It is very directed by Cricket and I know and sense that this is something she needs. It's a strange honor to provide it for her. I just hope I can somehow become superhuman and have the energy for this along with the rest of daily life.