I’ve enjoyed you so much this month. You are full of fun and smiles and full of fire. It’s so obvious that you got my big personality. There is nothing halfway about you. (Except maybe your progress in the area of hair growth, but then I think you get that from me, too.) I hope that I will be able to teach you to use that big personality well, and I hope I will get to learn a thing or two about my own along the way. It’s weird, seeing yourself in your child. I know you hear this all the time from one of your favorite story books, but it’s true: “I love you more each day.”
You’ve grown a lot this month. You’re outgrowing 12mo clothes and beginning to fill out the most darling purple coat I’ve ever seen. I borrowed it for you from a friend who has a little girl Jacob’s age, and you and I both fell in love with it. You are always pleased to wear it and sometimes you grab it and hand it to me. You’re not so sure about the hood, but it kinda still falls down over your eyes, so that’s not surprising. Anyway, you’ve grown. You’re sporting a big round belly now and you are slowly, slowly beginning to have hair on your pretty little head. You’ve gotten a lot taller, too. But you still seem like my tiny little lady, and seeing you reach all the developmental milestones Jacob reached, but at a much smaller size, just makes everything that much cuter. I was reading you a story today and remembering how I’d read to Jacob at 15 months, his big self perched on the arm of my rocking chair since you were occupying my lap.
Now you occupy my lap in a whole new way, and I don’t think you are very clear on the difference between it and a chair. One of your favorite sports these days is to clamber onto a sitting object and sit. There’s the pint-sized rocking chair in the basement that you climb like a stair, stand to your feet, turn around, and then work your legs back out to point forward. Then you look immensely satisfied and start to rock and sometimes, if you brought a book and the book didn’t fall off onto the floor during your sitting process, you’ll begin to read all by yourself. There’s the beanbag by the bookshelf in your room where the process is a little more immediate. You do this little launch-and-spin and there you are, ready to start reading. (I think in your mind sitting is technically only a means to reading.) And then there’s me. You barrel toward me on your speedy, eager legs holding a book in an outstretched arm. You pause with the silent assumption that I will do my part and take the book from you. Then you climb me just like your rocking chair, turn around, and plop down. Once today when this happened I was already in the middle of studying Richard Scarry with your brother, so I tried what has usually worked in the past: quietly turn pages for you while you amuse yourself. But at each page you’d look up at my face like “C’mon woman, what’s your problem?” until I recited the appropriate text.
Books are a pretty huge obsession with you. The one book you’re not so excited about is my Bible, which we’ve begun the custom of reading together on the couch each morning after breakfast. You spend most of those brief 90 seconds squawking and squirming. Anything else, though, is fine with you. You especially love reading a couple books together when we’re snuggling on my bed before naptime, and you hardly even notice when I put you in your crib and say goodbye because you’re nose is still in one of your books. Naptime, as far as you are ever consciously aware of it, is “Everybody go away now so Meredith can read books” time. But above all other books has emerged the ultimate prize: The Tale of the Three Little Pigs. You literally giggle about it. I use a big, gruff voice for the wolf and rub my cheek up against your hair when I say “BLOW your house in!” and you completely go nuts. You and your brother happen to agree on the superiority of this particular book, and between the two of you, your Daddy and I have been fulfilling at least five requests a day for it.
The other thing that gets you excited these days is the Doxology. You recognize it now and when it comes on in the car you start to coo along with it. When we sing it in the morning you get very excited and you always join in with the “Amen” by saying a big wide-mouthed “Ah.” You say this when we finish a prayer, too, and sometimes you jump the gun if you are particularly impatient to get on with the eating part of mealtime.
You are doing so well at meals. You shovel in anything I offer with your fists. You don’t seem picky at all except now and then there’ll be something that doesn’t suit your fancy at the moment, like the cranberry bread with cream cheese I offered you a few days ago, and you give me this face like “Get that away from me. That’s gross.” (However, you still routinely eat dirt from the garden.) I love how when I stick you in your high chair and put the tray on you hand me your bib like a perfectly trained puppy. You know the drill. And I love how you seem to know it’s special on the occasions when I push your chair up to the table instead of putting on the tray. It’s special for me, too. There we sit, our family of four. Across from me is Daddy and beside him, Jacob. And there you are right beside me, looking across at your brother silently working out the details of who’s going to initiate this evening’s round of giggles.
You and your brother are besties. Best friends and best enemies. He loves you like crazy and misses you when you’re not around. He hates you, also. He can’t stop saying “Baby not play cars! Baby not get books. Baby not… Baby not.” But sometimes as soon as the stressful moment has subsided he’ll be looking for you. You love him to death. He seems to be the first thing on your mind every day when you wake up from your nap and start to say “Buh-bub.” You love to play with him even when it gets rough and crazy, but sometimes when he tackles you to the ground and you have had it you just yell with all the capacity of your Broadway singer lungs. Of course then he yells, too. Basically, it’s just very, very loud when you guys aren’t getting along. I’m trying to figure out how to teach you to respect his stuff and not get all up in his business so he has the freedom to do his big kid things, but I love that you are so curious about him. When you are both awake it is a full-time job to keep you playing nicely with each other. But yesterday the most amazing thing happened: You were both in your room after lunch and I was confused by the silence. I peeked in to see you both sitting on the floor, side by side, reading books. You looked so happy together. You played with almost no intervention from me for an hour after that, and it was one of the loveliest things I’ve ever seen.
A few of your favorite activities need to be mentioned. Outside, you love to climb up and down the steps of the porch, holding onto the metal rails. If I’m sitting on the stairs all the better: you reach out your hand officiously, confident I will do my duty and offer you mine. Inside, you love to climb the stairs, and you are finally predictably safe going down them, which is a big relief to me. You like to help me empty the dishwasher, and this is often one of our special ways of hanging out after you wake up from your nap, and you stand there and hand me each piece of silverware, one at a time, while I say “thank you” for each one, just like your brother did before you were born. Your favorite activity of all is brushing your teeth. Every time Daddy goes upstairs you start to say “Brshhhh” because you are accustomed to seeing him brush his teeth after meals. Sometimes you just say “Brshhhh” for no reason. Daddy is a huge pushover, and sometimes brushes your teeth twice a day. You take ownership of this activity and know just where to find your toothpaste and toothbrush as you stand there on the counter with his arm around your belly.
Your language is developing quickly and you have words for Daddy, Mommy, Jacob, Brush, Puppy, Uh-Oh, and Ball (which is always said at maximum volume with big wide eyes). And of course the old standard, Basketball, your second official word after Daddy. You also love to say “Hi” at every possible appropriate opportunity, unless prompted, in which case sometimes you feign shyness. Besides your words, you have signs, and you’ve got a few new ones besides Thank You and All Done and Bye-Bye. Now you sign Milk and Jesus and Sorry and you still rely on your own unique wrist wiggle when I tell you to stop yelling for more food and say “More please.” What’s cute and endlessly fun for me is that you will attempt to say anything I ask of you. Sometimes it comes out quite well, like when you say “Stinky” when you’re getting a new diaper. Sometimes this long mush of tongue-tied syllables pours out involving lots of L sound. The problem with this tendency to imitate is that you also like to imitate me when I say “Shh,” complete with the finger motion. You’re not really catching the spirit there. The other cute thing is that I’ve said “No touch” while pointing to an object so many times that you now have a sign for “No touch.” You poke your belly with your finger whenever I tell you something is “No touch.” The first time you did this it completely sabotaged my attempt at teaching you because it was so cute. Your other big communication standard is your propensity to just yell like a crazy banshee when you feel the need to defend yourself or assert yourself for any reason. And finally, there is Bap. I don’t know why you say this or when it started, but it gets cuter and cuter. It is your word, and it is often said at very inappropriate times, like when I’m trying to get you to sit and listen to the Bible, and it is always said at full volume. What’s been melting my heart about it is your face when you finish saying it: your lower lip is sealed tight over your top lip, your chin is all dimply, and you could just not possibly find a sassier look for a one-year-old. I am increasingly certain that this look is expressing the true meaning of the word. You are just a sass, up and down.
Nothing terribly extraordinary has happened this month. Just lots of peaceful, plain days. You get lots of time hanging out with Daddy, who gives me a morning off on Tuesdays and an hour alone on Saturday mornings, too. Whenever he dresses you in the morning you look completely fabulous. (You’re a lucky girl.) You get lots of girl time with your Mommy since you usually get up from nap time before Jacob. I love those quiet moments, just the two of us. You’ve got two new friends exactly your age, too. Annabelle, who we met several months ago, is becoming your BFF. Asa we just met a couple days ago, but I’m so excited to have another buddy for you just your age. I think he’s five days younger than you.
I love you, baby girl. I love how you tramp all over the house on your confident feet. I love how persistently you attempt to climb anything and everything to achieve whatever your current mission is. I love your darling wide-mouthed kisses and the tender hugs you give out both to people and to toys. I love how you squeeze your monkey and your dolly, one under each arm, when you get ready to go to sleep. I love how you hold my phone to your head and say “Hi!” a million times and how you try to brush your hair with my hairbrush. I love your automatic, generous willingness to give me anything if I hold out my hand and ask. I am so glad I have your endless sunshine and adventure and craziness. And your sass. I love your sass a lot.