(The set of 5 park photos are thanks to the talented Scott Scheetz, one of Mike’s colleagues.)
Please forgive my procrastination, for that’s all that it’s been. On May 3 I didn’t write because I was too absorbed with getting the errands run and garden planted, and then nearly a week went by, and I keep finding other things I’d rather do in my free moments. And next month’s letter will most likely be late, too, since we get back from our vacation on the 4th.
When I think over this month the first three words that come to mind are Exhausting, Blur, and Ugh. You and I were both sick so much this month, complete with your first real fever. It made for several long nights for me that were reminiscent of those early weeks when I’d finally reach the state of Sleep Coma by sunrise after too much night adventuring. But it has been precious to rock you and hold you and bring you the nectar of life that your sippy cup of water is to you when you are having a 3 a.m. coughing fit. I should probably reserve that title, though, for the tylenol and benadryl that you were treated to a few times. Many a pout there was the morning after when you’d see the bottles on the changing table and sweetly clap “More please” and be cruelly denied.
Everyone who sees you comments on your growth. You are like my garden weeds! I almost can’t see anything baby left in you. You’re just a goofy, energetic, thrill-seeking boy. Some of your recent thrills have included throwing all your toys over the gate onto the back deck, or better yet, throwing them over the deck railing into the basement window well. That is some fun stuff. Also, eating potting soil. Mmmm…
You understand us so well and it is a joy to our hearts to see you learning what it means to obey. You love to teeter down the walkway towards the parking lot and when you get to the mailboxes I call out from the garden “Jacob, stop!” and you freeze dead in your tracks. Then I call “Stay here!” and you turn 90 degrees, and head for your friend the fire hydrant, where you impishly scattered half my bean seeds one day when I wasn’t watching closely enough.
Speaking of teetering, that is the best word to describe your new mode of travel. It has developed over the last couple weeks and now you are quite capable of remaining upright for about as long as you choose, and the involuntary plops onto your resilient little backside are growing less frequent. But still, it is not quite a walk, with all the confidence and fluidity that word suggests. It is a teeter, and your left foot tends to do most of the advancing, while your right one does the stabilizing, which makes it something of a crab walk sometimes, too. But how you love to cross back and forth through the house, your whole body fully engaged in the shuffle, carrying this or that to some new spot you’ve picked out. When you get tired of teetering or need to get somewhere in a bigger hurry you will occasionally regress to an old-fashioned crawl, but mostly your secondary mode of travel is what we refer to as the Mowgli Walk, hands and feet on the ground, butt high in the air. You can cover some serious ground that way, and it always makes me laugh.
Your impishness has only grown, and the “kkkk” laugh has matured even more. It is one of my favorite sounds in the world, when you get that twinkle in your eye because you know you’re about to be silly. I am afraid you get that from me, and that’s not what I would’ve suspected before I became a mom, back when my little brother’s compliment to me upon the completion of my first semester away in college was “You got funny!” Yes, I used to be all seriousness, but now I am the one carrying on ridiculously at bedtime every night, and you are learning my ways. Sorry in advance to your wife.
Your sweetness and shyness is growing too, and your possessiveness and your irrational little fears. Tonight your pout melted when I gave you your stuffed puppy from your crib to replace the toy car I’d put away in preparation for bed. We watched in amazement as you took that puppy and snuggled your head right onto it, like you were giving it a hug. Where did you learn that?! (It’s not like we ever hug you or anything.) You act shy around most non-parents, and only occasionally will you warm to a grin and a wave, though there’s always a little smile lurking where you’ve buried your head in my neck, you little faker. You don’t like it when I leave and you pitch a fit for a bit when I drop you off at childcare at the Tuesday morning moms’ group. The other night in church I walked out to blow my sorry nose and Daddy had to get up and leave with you because you burst into full-on weeping. You are afraid of several random things, including elevators, vacuum cleaners, and the dumpster in our parking lot. Please believe me when I say that I’m not serious when I say I’m going to throw you in the garbage can.
You are slowly expanding your food horizons, though you seem to get even more fickle as time marches on. Some days you will eat an entire banana in 17 seconds. Some days it has to be in its peel, looking like the real deal, for you to touch it. Some days you completely pass it over in favor of bread and peanut butter. You eat a ton of peanut butter, and your new craze is mangoes, which we were happy to find for $0.50 each last week. We have been feasting on them, and you are not afraid to pick up that core and sink your face into it. The other day it slipped out of your grasp and ended up behind your neck. You were confused, to say the least. Today you got your first kiwi and your initial pucker and scowl was quickly replaced with happy clapping for “More please!” until you’d devoured the whole thing. Your willingness to try different textures is growing and Sunday you devoured the fried rice I whipped up after church. That’s gonna come in handy.
You’ve lost your “sister,” since my work as a nanny has come to an end with the end of the school year. I’m sorry that you don’t have that sweet companion to love on and pick on anymore, but I’m also so glad I have a few special months alone with you before your for-real sister is born. We are going to live these days as full as we can.
You love to climb stairs and you’ve now learned to go backwards down them, too, always prompted by the reminder “Feet first!” You love anything with wheels including the giant double stroller and the tiny green John Deere tractor you got for your birthday. You love that I can fix it when the back pops off, too, while you’re busily scrubbing it across the floor, back and forth as fast as your shoulder can go. You love to hold up anything that strikes your fancy and you look so satisfied when I respond by naming the object. You still love to chuck everything out of your crib and jump your heart out. You also love to sit and page through cardboard books, and as you go you “read” each page, mumbling in single syllables as you go. One of my favorite developments this month is that your love for the open dishwasher has developed into an eagerness to “help,” and so you take each piece of silverware out one at a time and give it to me to put in the drawer, and you don’t quit till the whole job is done.
And finally, you love to talk. You babble at the top of your lungs when the mood strikes, though just as often you will play in silence for an hour at a time. You proved on Sunday that you can spend the entire hour-long drive to church conversing with yourself so loudly that Daddy and I have to turn our sermon up to full volume to hear it over your din. You have said your first word, and there is no doubt about that. This word is: “A.” It is a simple word, and yet it is anything but simple. It is pronounced like the A in “Hat,” and it is begun with a glottal stroke, and there is no doubt about the fact that the period is included as part of the word. It is also always accompanied with deliberate eye contact and all the intentionality that you can muster. It is, most definitely, your word. And when you say it, we can tell that you are satisfied that you have spoken your mind. To this point, we still have no idea what this means, but we are glad that you feel you can tell us exactly what you think…
Sweet Jacob, there are no words for the amount of joy you bring to your daddy and me. If you only knew how much of our kid-free grown-up time we spend just talking about you, and I don’t even mean the time we spend figuring you out or problem solving, I mean the times we sit around and say “Did you see that?” “Did you notice how…?” You are a feast for our souls and we couldn’t possibly love you more.