I read this great article once that said to write a letter to your child for each year/milestone in their lives. I did great for 6 months, and have no idea what happened to your 1 year letter. I can always blame some random space/time issue, but more than likely it had something to do with my profound ineptitude.
Anyhow, as you may already realize, Mommy is all about research. What I lack in confidence I make up for in factoids. I dove into this whole Mommy business with my “What to Expect When You’re Expecting/In the First Year” and a mulitude of other tomes gar-en-teed to make me the best mother possible. (I even have “Secrets of the Baby Whisperer” – that one probably won’t make much sense to you, but it was all the rage at the time.)
A quick comment on these books and to their authors: you should be ashamed of yourselves, preying on the hormone induced, sleep-deprived panic that is early childhood parenting. Implying this little person is moldable to ANY whim other than thier own is just plain dumb, and makes us even more miserable because you sound so certain. For shame! (That goes for you, too, Happiest Baby on the Block guy. Swaddling was met with howls of torture, not the coos of contentment promised. OK, the swing thing was a gift from Heaven. STILL.)
What all these books failed to tell me is that there isn’t one sweet thing that I (or your Dad, for that matter) could or can do that will make you who you are. In the days after your birth, it was pretty clear that you had everything covered; we just needed to catch up and figure it out, not the other way around. I remember one instance where a co-worker inquiring about your nap times, was clearly horrified at my response of “pretty much when he wants”. “You need to put that boy on a schedule,” she said. I didn’t know if I should laugh hysterically or burst into tears. I think I may have done a little of both.
Lately, though, you pose more of a mental challenge than a physical (or endurance-based) one. Trying to keep a straight face during a time out is an Oscar-worthy performance (your Dad is REALLY bad at it – so much for that acting training – and he ALWAYS brings me down with him). Your lower lip comes out so far it looks like you were stung by a bee. You employ the chin quiver when you’re REALLY looking to do some damage. The big guns, though, is when you open your arms to me and say “HUGS” when you’re in time out. Boy, do you know your adversary.
As for more of your latest milestones, you’re showing serious understanding of abstract concepts. Case in point: we often stop by work on my day off, and sometimes see one of the department assistants who just HAPPENS to have giant jar of animal crackers. Miss Beth is, I pointed out to you on a number of occasions as you stuck your less than clean arm deep into the jar, a nice lady. (You always say please and thank you, which I guess is one area where I can ask for a little credit.)
Anyway, we were out to dinner at a steakhouse a few months ago, and one of the waiters (dressed in lab coats, don’t ask), stops by and starts talking to you and telling you a few jokes. He leaves, and you turn to me to tell me he also was a “nice lady”. While I’m not at all concerned at the moment for gender misidentification (we’ll have that talk LATER, thanks) what made me get all googly is that you understood “nice”. And lab coat guy didn’t even give you anything.
Since then, you have decided when things are silly (“Turtle driving car? That SILLY), scary (Diesel on Thomas the Tank engine scares you, so you tell me “HUG, Mommy”), or just plain irritating (“No, Mommy/Daddy – I don’t LIKE it”). Its not that you’re more opinionated, just more opinionated with a better vocab.
You also have a wicked sense of humor – I have to apologize in advance, though, because neither your Dad nor I are known for our sophisticated humor. It all started months ago when you had your pacifier in your mouth when you were trying to tell me what you wanted to eat. “Pizza boots?” I said. “Yuck!” To which you dissolved into hysterical belly laughter. Me being one to beat the joke into the ground, this led to cupcake shoes, sushi socks, and all other manner of irreverent footwear in the coming weeks. In each intstance you would just crack up.
We were driving home from daycare a couple of weeks ago, when I asked you what you did that day. I usually ask what you had for lunch, to which, on this day, you replied “Stop Sign Soup”, promptly cracking yourself up. (I’m afraid you get that from me too – the ability to amuse yourself). I found it so funny I had tears in my eyes and nearly needed to pull over. Since then, you’ve come with my personal favorite, sock sandwich.
There are other times when I have absolutely no idea where you get stuff. Our dogs, Yogi and BooBoo, tend to go a little nuts at the window sometimes (the UPS guy really sets them off), barking and carrying on. Lately, when they do, you yell “FIRE!” at the top of your lungs. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do with this one, but suffice it to say, we’re not going to any movie theaters any time soon.
(READER WARNING: SENTIMENT AHEAD)
Mostly, though, I just really like to watch you. I can look at you and see the synapses being burned – when you’re trying to come up with the words, I almost expect to see smoke coming out of your ears. I look at you and see your Daddy – which is so cool, even though I would have liked to contribute SOMETHING besides sensitive skin and hair color (oh, wait – there’s the dairy thing. Go, Mom!) I even look at you and notice you no longer “toddle”, you walk, shuffle, amble, and even saunter. But there’s nary a wobble, or really, any sign of babyhood still lingering. That part makes me a little sad, but all the new stuff happening with you makes up for it. I’ll miss the armpit/sumo baby rolls, though.
I also love to watch you when you sleep – not for the normal, schmaltzy reasons, though those are good too, but becuase you vacillate so easily between baby and little boy. You go from curling up fetal style (baby), to spread eagled and snoring (little boy). You talk in your sleep occassionally, too. The BEST, though, is when you giggle in your sleep. That’s definitely in my Mommy’s top ten. (I’m guessing by the time you’re about four or so, I may be out of the habit of referring to myself in the third person).
You’re showing that you have an exceptional gift for empathy: since you were about eight months old, you would get upset when you would see someone else upset, whether you knew them or not. While you’ve outgrown becoming upset yourself, you still hone in on someone who’s out of sorts as if you have it on radar.
Case in point: Before you could really tell me about your day, you would just repeat things that you had overheard that day at daycare. Between the “Matthew, don’t TOUCH it” and the “Stephen, get DOWN”, it gave me a pretty good idea of the day, or at least the highlights. Right around this time, in reply to my asking how your day was, you said, “Don’t cry, Andreas”, at which point you came up to me and patted my shoulder. A strong woman would crumble under such circumstances, and I’m no exception. Which I’m sure confused the heck out of you.
What I wanted to get to (albiet in a roundabout way) is that you do so many things that amaze and astound me, and its all you. I can’t take credit for your kind heart, your easygoing and happy nature (though I really have to THANK YOU for that), your smarts, your startlingly extensive vocabulary (though if you find yourself using “CRAP” a lot, that was all me), your fashion sense (“I don’t WEAR that, Mommy”), your strange food tastes (all manner of fruit, bean salad, licorice, hamburgers, of course, and pretty much anything covered in mayonnaise), your current train obsession (you’ve spent literally MINUTES on the floor studying and learning all the different characters in Thomas the Tank Engine), your smarts (did I mention smart? I may need to start studying to stay ahead), or your fabulous sense of humor. Okay, maybe I can take a little credit for that last one. After all, I did come up with “Pizza Boots”.
I love you, my sweet little/big boy. Happy Two.