Lucy has discovered that ugliest of all pronouns. I don't know where she learned it, because we have made a sincere effort not to say it. I read some that pronouns are hard for babies to understand, and also, who wants to hear a baby saying this particular one over and over again? So we say things like "Mama's beer. Lucy's water."

But two weeks ago, she uttered her first piercing "My-een." Followed by about four or five more "my-eens," just in case we missed the first one, which we hadn't, nor had anyone else in the restaurant. In Lucy's world, mine translates to "gimme that." Or sometimes it just expresses general frustration. She has discovered sweeping, which involves pushing the broom around yelling "mine" every time she runs into something or encounters a corner she can't maneuver.

She has advanced to the "Buddy" room at school, moving ahead of a couple of other kids her age (losers!). While I'd like to attribute this to her intelligence and verbal skills, it's more about the fact that she is a) shifting to more of an 18-month-old schedule and proving a challenge during afternoon naptime and b) more than able to defend herself against the other children. Basically, she's a bossy and a bad napper.

They tell me in the Buddy room that "mine" is not a bad thing. It's an important tool in defining and expressing yourself. It's just so...irritating. I sense I will feel similarly about many of Lu's efforts to define and express herself.