The letter I wrote to you two nights ago I intended as your journal for this month. I felt a little regret that it would mean leaving out the usual highlights and funnies and random observations so I’ve been doubting my choice. Tonight you settled the question at the dinner table. This has to get written down.
I made a creamy soup of roasted garlic and potatoes with some beef thrown in. It wasn’t one of my best creations. You eagerly climbed to see inside the pot before we ate and I offered you a taste. Just the whiff of it and you literally gagged. I winced, imagining the dinner ordeal we’d face.
Dinner came and we lit the candle as we almost always do at your begging. We sat down to bowls of warm soup graced with some fresh parmesan. I thought carefully about the presentation of the cookies: Hide them till the soup was gone, or play the card now because I knew I wasn’t going to make you get far with your bowl of it and the cookie’d had your name on it all along.
I put the cookies on the table in plain sight. One for Daddy, one for Mommy, one for Jacob. We prayed and dug in and you ate a bite or two before you realized you didn’t like it and then you tried to push my hand back to the bowl. You were ready for your cookie.
“Jacob, sweetie, you can’t eat a cookie unless you eat soup first.” I carefully didn’t say “All your soup.” We could almost see inside your head as the gears turned and you popped a bite in and gulped it down. We all but cheered, praising you for making a wise choice. “Welp, the multi-step logic is kicking in,” said Daddy.
This scene repeated half a dozen times until I was satisfied with the foray you’d made into soup-eating. Baby steps is all I want. I was completely impressed with your calm, submissive, cheerful wisdom. You weren’t even whining for the cookie. You understood. Daddy and I finished our soup and we showed you our empty bowls and proclaimed it time for cookies.
Your delight could barely be contained and you made quick work of your first couple bites. Then, forgetting yourself, you brought Daddy and me back to a more realistic estimation of the heights of wisdom you’ve attained already: You dipped your cookie in the soup and licked it off, then dipped it again, undeterred by the flavor of the soup.
You dipped and dipped, and we laughed and laughed to each other with our eyes and our silent faces, delighting in your babyish silliness. You have so many preconceptions about what’s good and what’s not, and chief among these is that anything presented as “dip” is good, and whatever you’re dipping is important only as a vehicle.
This month has been so intense for me, the first full month on my own as your mommy since Meredith was born. We have had incredible days and disaster days, and very few days that fall near the middle of that spectrum. You had good times with Mommy. You discovered the joy of autumn leaves and I discovered the joy of introducing my child to one of my favorite things. We raod-tripped together with Meredith to visit my Aunt Sarah and Uncle Bill and you got to spend lots of time with Hershey, their chocolate lab.
You had good times with Daddy. He couldn’t bear how much he was missing your company amidst all the stress of school a couple weeks ago so he took you out to the local children’s museum for an hour of exploring and then bought you chicken nuggets at Arby’s for dinner. After dinner you spent happy moments in one of your favorite pastimes, sitting up in the driver’s seat of the car and doing your worst. A week ago we went hiking and Daddy strapped you to himself in the Moby wrap and carried you all the way, and when we reached the riverbed along the trail we stopped and Daddy taught you how to throw rocks into the river.
You are going through separation anxiety in a big way and two weeks ago the childcare workers at my mom’s group came to fetch me after 20 minutes of weeping and no comfort in sight. You won’t step across any threshold unless I’m a step ahead of you and then you worry beside me for awhile before you trust that I’m not leaving. You are ever more obsessed with trucks, diggers, and flags and this month you saw endless trucks on our road trip, sat up in a digger parked down the street, and gazed awestruck at the big flag hanging by Aunt Sarah’s front door. And last but not least, you stayed up till almost 11:00 p.m. at a babysitter’s house last night. Don’t get any ideas because I’m not budging on that 7:00 p.m. bedtime until you’re in high school, and even then, only if you’re good.
I love you.