As I write you are in your crib talking and bouncing up a storm. You seem to be on some sort of sleep strike. You wake up fussing frequently in the night, you wake up too early from your naps, you stay awake jabbering by yourself after bedtime, and you wake up way too early in the morning. I’m hoping this means Tooth #5 is soon to make a debut.
You are growing up so fast. First let me just admit that you need a hair cut in a very big way. We have plans to get that done next week. This week your Aunt Kilby & Uncle Paul are coming to visit and then your daddy is going to Kansas to meet up with his high school buddies for two days. So you get to rock the surfer ‘do a few more days. Then I promise we will go help you reclaim some of your little lost dignity.
As for the rest of your growth, it all seems to be happening on the inside of your head, though you have already broken in several outfits in the 24-month size and you no longer have a single pair of shoes that we can stuff your little toes into. Watching you learn to understand language is just mind-boggling these days and it is such a blessing to feel like we are successfully communicating things to you. You’ve learned what we mean when we say “Let’s Pray,” and you reach for our hands at the dinner table and then speak along with Daddy, saying “Nah” at intervals while he prays. You know the next order of business is food, and you know “Amen,” is the sign that it’s time. You’ve also learned to give sweet hugs and now and then you’ll reward me with a big open-mouthed kiss that is much more like a bonk on the face. That’s your other form of showing affection: bonks. You and daddy are especially good at this game, and it is quite entertaining. You just butt heads with each other over and over again, laughing while Daddy says “Bonk!”
You and your daddy are getting lots of goofing off time in this summer and it is such a treasure to watch you enjoy each other. Daddy is proudly claiming the position of The Silly Parent, enjoying the sense we get that you know when he’s around it’s time to hang out and mess around. Yesterday while we sat in the basement listening to a sermon, you climbed all over the couch, up the arm to peak out the high window, back down to throw a ball at daddy or climb over him as he lay there. You still get your ritual night-time bath out of daddy, and last night you started heading for the stairs with so much intention, even though we usually don’t give you a bath on Sunday nights. But that was not to be, and you had your bath and had a wildly good time at it, too.
Meanwhile you and I are spending lots of precious time together, too, and these sweet, quiet, leisurely summer days are such a treat. You help me get the chores done in the morning, and your particular favorite is the dishes, since I let you stand on a chair and play with the water while I work beside you. You are learning to be so helpful, cheerfully responding to requests like “put it back,” or “give it to Mommy” or “close it up for me!” After the house is picked up and laundry is caught up and plants are all watered in the mornings we just hang out in the basement to avoid the oppressive heat. I usually try to get a little work done on this or that project, but my first priority for those couple hours is you, and you enjoy screeching up to me with a book in hand to clamber up onto what little your sister has left you of my lap. Then I read and you turn the pages and sometimes we read the same book eight times in a row, especially if it’s Sandra Boynton’s Blue Hat, Green Hat, which we keep checked out of the library on a regular basis.
Daddy & I decided it was time for you to go cold turkey with the pacifier, which we affectionately refer to as “Baby Crack” so you won’t understand that we’re talking about it. You’ve handled it pretty well. In fact I think you’ve handled it better than I have. You only used it during church and in bed, for the most part, and when it was time for naps or bedtime you’d be so snuggly as we held you and sang to you. It calmed you down, and now there is none of that, just lots of wiggling and flailing and trying to keep the fun going, and confused frustration when we don’t play along. I miss my snuggler, so you have to promise to work through this issue and come back to snuggle with me within another month or two. I will need lots of Jacob snuggles while I sit on the couch and get over surgery after your sister is born.
Your favorite toys these days are balls, my mop and broom which you push tirelessly around the house, a little plastic frisbee, and as many little board books as you can get your hands on. Your favorite activity is without a doubt throwing things, and anything will do for the purpose. You also love to help me water the garden and you are fascinated by sticks, carrying them around the yard and hitting them on whatever you come across. You also love my keys a lot and understand that we use them to get the mail. You trot alongside me to the box, carrying my keys, and then hand them to me for me to open the box. You’ve discovered that the package box, always open whenever it’s empty, with a master key in its lock, is a fun little game, and you like to pull it open and put things inside. You’re become obsessed with animals, too, and most of the books we have from the library are about animals. You love the tiny puppy that lives in the next building over and it is precious to watch you follow each other around. You enjoyed watching the fish in their tanks at Walmart this morning, and you still have the most special place in your heart saved for the birdies that play outside. This morning we picked out your very own baby from the store so you can learn how to be gentle. Next month when I am busy holding my baby, you can sit right next to me and hold yours.
This month has been challenging for me because you are learning to assert your own will quite dramatically, and sometimes that’s led to full out raging screaming fits. We are trying to teach you and shepherd you into patience and self-control, and the last week has been much more peaceful than the week before. It is profound, watching your little soul grapple with the world. Gone are the simple, easy days when you could just be distracted away from something, or when any one good thing could replace another that you’d been enjoying. But now if you have a cookie, getting down to play doesn’t solve the sadness about the perplexing lack of more cookies. And if I say no to something that you desperately desire I can just see your soul churning on your face and in your sweet hands as you try to figure out whether it’s worth it to go your own way or whether you trust me enough to take me at my word. Little by little you are growing in that trust, and things that used to always end in a battle of will are becoming easy for you, like Don’t Touch the Toilet Paper and Don’t Touch Mommy’s Computer and Don’t Throw Food on the Floor. We are so proud of you as we watch you conquer one tiny mountain after another, and it’s been good to reflect on the nature of this growth. It’s sanctification, it’s God’s wonderful work in your heart, and it’s a process. The important thing is not that you attain perfection, and attain it now, it’s that you keep growing. It helps me to stay patient and sane instead of worrying about every little sin that you may be struggling with from one day to the next, as though we’d both be consumed by its power in our lives.