Jacob: 11 Months

Dear Jacob,

This month saw a bit more normal in our lives. Lots of routine days playing at home, lots of good time with Daddy, and a weeklong visit from your auntie Grace, who adores you passionately. We’ve been making a conscious effort to have people over more often because I realized one day that it was a strange phenomenon to you, and that we’d fallen out of the practice. You seem to enjoy the visitors and last night as we sat around the living room chatting with old buddies from college past your bedtime you seemed so satisfied to be hangin’ with the grown-ups.

I am delighting in witnessing your mind growing these days. What an amazing journey! Your understanding of language is advancing fast. You stop and look around whenever I say “Where’s Daddy?” and you know to stand by the door and watch for his bike. You know when he goes out the door to watch to the right while he gets on his bike and watch to the left till he’s out of sight down the hill. Tonight I coaxed you to the stairs by asking “Where’s Daddy?” and this afternoon when you came upstairs from your nap you seemed to be on a mission, heading to the second staircase. As soon as you were at its top you didn’t waste a minute with the usually-enticing bookshelf, but you headed right around the corner, clearly intent on finding Daddy in his office. Also, today you were fussing at me because you wanted to help me write this letter by smacking the computer keys so I just said, “Jacob! Where’s your ball?” Instantly you stopped fussing, looked around, and went down on your little paws to get it.

When you are hungry you are fond of coming into the kitchen where I’m cooking and just sitting there and clapping your hands together. (Duh, Mom, that means food please.) You are beginning to learn a few other signs and waving Bye-Bye has been the most successful thusfar. “All done,” is basically the same as “More please” to your muscles and brain, but I can tell you meant “All done” when you respond to the approaching washcloth with outstretched palms.

Your own verbal skills are too cute. You yammer all day and it’s especially cute just after you wake and you’re all alone in your crib. Your inflection is so fun to hear and you ask yourself lots and lots of questions. You say “Daah daah daah?” all the time and I have a suspicion it might be your way of imitating my “Where’s Daddy?”

You’ve also grown in grasping the concept “No.” You know how to obey and you are usually pretty obliging if I remind you you’re not supposed to touch this or that. I am enjoying a new understanding of the simple concept of “No” that has allowed me to start saying no to things that aren’t always against the rules. I used to carefully reserve “No” for only putting the phone in your mouth or touching the stereo speaker or toilet paper. Now when I’ve just cleaned up your books for the millionth time and I want you to be done pulling them off I can tell you “No” and you desist after a bit and move on to a new game.

Your body is growing, too. You’re down to only about 5 outfits that fit you and they are mostly 18mo sizes. You’re getting good at helping the getting dressed process, stuffing your arms into your jacket or holding up your foot for a sock. You were sitting at the piano the other day and I wondered to notice that your palm, resting on the keys, spans a 5th. What are you, the next Rachmaninoff? I love those hands, tiny perfect replica of the hands I fell in love with four years ago. Your hair is growing fast and it looks more and more each day like the very unfortunate ‘do of a geek from the ’80s. I am beginning to see for-real tooth signs, but my money’s still on you getting your first haircut before your first tooth.

You are very satisfied with crawling and it gets you around with crazy speed. Sometimes you get your sight fixed on something and you take off like a bat out of hell. Sometimes you are being goofy and with every stride you raise your straight arm, elbow locked, parallel to the floor, and smack your palm down with determination. But you’ve also figured out that cruising upright is great when there is furniture to hold, or better yet, Mom’s legs. Consequently it is sometimes very difficult to get dinner made. Just today you’ve made big progress in gaining confidence to let go and stand on your own. It’s going to come any day now and you’ll seem like an old pro. You love to climb and I am not exactly doing you a favor in instilling a fear of gravity in you. I routinely let you just “climb” over the edge of couches and chairs and beds, holding your ankles till you’ve planted your hands on the floor and are ready to crawl away. Rude awakening waiting to happen. Lately when we go sit in Daddy’s office while he’s practicing you like to scramble up my body and perch on my shoulder to look out the window. You monkey.

You have a positively wild sense of humor. You think everything is funny and sometimes out of a long silence in the car you will break out cackling with glee. You love to laugh with me and it’s fun to provoke you to it. Today you were up to something and your laugh said as clear as day, “Watch Mom, this is going to be the funniest thing you’ve ever seen.” You also love to laugh with Svana, your two year old sister-of-sorts who spends most days with us. It is precious to see you two engaging each other on your own little baby level. You love to play games and two of your favorites lately are to grab my nose in your fist and wag my head back and forth. This mysteriously always elicits the concerned response “Oh dear” from me and you think that is hilarious. The other game you are fond of is dropping things, and we’ve gotten several amusing videos recently of an object or two getting gleefully chucked over the edge of the crib, Daddy’s leg, the high chair tray. It cracks you up.

This past week we transitioned to one nap a day and I am pretty sure the entire universe is feeling a little more well-being. Things are as they should be. You also get to stay up till 8:00 now instead of 6:30 or 7:00 and the combination of these two factors means you have stopped protesting naps and stopped waking up to babble and fuss at 4:00 a.m. each day. Now you sleep till about 7:00 and then babble happily till I get you at 8:00. Your pregnant mommy is enjoying the slower mornings and the predictable afternoon quiet time.

Your favorite past-times are climbing stairs, rolling balls, running your fist or finger back and forth over your mouth while you talk, and smacking two objects together. (Any two objects at all will do.) You are apparently scared of grass and the other day when you accidentally landed on your tummy halfway off the picnic blanket you got all scared and flexed your back so your hands stayed off the ground. Your auntie and I, of course, laughed awhile before we rescued you. Grandma Powell sent us a singing card the other day that plays a goofy rendition of the hamster dance when you open it. This has given you many happy moments of dancing. You stand at the coffee table and bounce on your knees to the beat.

You love to help me with the laundry and by help I mean chuck everything out of the basket as fast as possible. You have this down to a science. You stand at the basket holding on with one hand while the other grabs objects and with a strong swing of the shoulder, flings them behind you. Until the basket is empty. By that point you have successfully located all of your socks and then you occupy yourself for the entire time it takes me to retrieve and fold all that flying laundry by playing with them. Yes, your socks are your new all-time favorite object. All I can say is, they bring you crazy, crazy joy and satisfaction.

And while we’re on the topic of joy and satisfaction, I have to thank you for what you bring to my life. Not just that you are a joy and satisfaction to me, even though you certainly are, but it’s something more. Tonight as you climbed the stairs to your bath with me behind you, you paused and looked up to catch my eye and giggle. I think your happiness was because you were climbing the stairs, and that made you happy just because you were doing what you do. You were made to, you are capable of it, and you spend every waking moment doing what you are made to do. Right now that is all play and silliness. As we climbed the stairs tonight it made me stop and think: How am I going to teach you to take joy and satisfaction in doing what you do all your life, even when it’s emptying wastebaskets and learning to spell and sending in college applications? You reminded me that God made us for this and it is my job to model for you what you’re unconsciously so good at right now, so that you never grow out of it or forget when the world rubs you the wrong way and invites you to get cynical or disinterested. So keep panting for those lung-fulls of air and giggling them back into the tired, jaded world.



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