My dearest boy,
Before you were born, I would have inwardly scoffed at parents who told me their 18-month-old boy was fixated on vehicles. Gender stereotyping, I’d sigh. They probably only have “boy” toys in their house. How unfortunate.
Now I’d be eating my words because, boy, (see what I did there?), you’re obsessed with anything that moves! This fascination must spring from somewhere in the male DNA; our house contains no more cars, trucks, or buses than it does stuffed animals, necklaces, or other “girl” toys. Nor do we favor one type over another until you make your preference clear.
These days, you’re also in a major Mama phase (woooohooo!). I wake up in the morning to the wonderful sound of “Mama? Mama? Mama?” coming through the monitor. You get into moods where you only want me to hold you, and if I unexpectantly leave a room, you whimper until I return. I clutch my heart at the way your face lights up each time I return. I’m appreciating this now because I know there will come a time when you only want to hang out with Dad.
It’s tough for me at night, however. I’ve never been good at putting you to bed, especially when you’re desperately fighting sleep. There’s just something about the sound of your desperate cry and the way you struggle that really stresses me out. I know I’m supposed to be the parent and take charge, but it’s easier on all of us when your Dad puts you in bed. Whatever works for a family, right? Still, I feel awful as you lunge for me when I transfer you to his arms, shrieking “Mama…Maaamaaa” even after the door is closed.
You’re kind of a picky eater, which is hard to believe about a 29-lb dude. You recoil at vegetables and somehow know when I’ve hidden them in other types of food (how do you knooooow?!?!). And you refuse to let us feed you, though you haven’t mastered silverware. You like foods that you can dip into things. I’ve learned to bathe and dress you after you eat. We often have to force a bite of food in your mouth before you remember, “Oh hey! Food is good. Well, what are you waiting for? More?!”
We’re still working on hitting and throwing things when you’re frustrated. You’re too young for time-outs, so for now I’m trying to be consistent about firmly saying no, explaining in a simple way why the behavior is unacceptable, and removing you from the situation. You bonked my head really hard the other morning, so much that I started to cry. A teachable moment, I thought, and through tears told you why I was upset. You looked at me blankly, then raised your hand, and slapped my arm. But you looked up again. Either you were beginning to grasp the concept of cause and effect, or just acting like a brat. Hoping for Scenario #1.
Here’s a cool development – you’ve started to tell us when you’ve pooped by pointing to your diaper. You also understand that we need to change you immediately and you don’t struggle. Ah, sweet bliss! And you’ve started seeking more private places to do it, a human impulse I’m told. Potty training isn’t too far away, me hopes.
My favorite milestone, however: You’ve begun to nod and say “uhuh” if we ask whether you want something. This, combined with a head shake and “no,” has opened up a wonderful new world in which we can better meet your wants & needs without (major) breakdowns.
And, though it pains me to admit, you’ve lost interest in “Baby Signing Time.” That was our go-to/little-guilt indulgence when we needed 20 minutes to get something done. At desperate times I’ve ventured into some YouTube clips of Sesame Street (you call Elmo “Melmoh” – so freakin’ adorable), but haven’t gotten into the stronger stuff. Something in me revolts against the concept of toddlers glued to commercial TV. I’m so granola sometimes.d
Speaking of YouTube, we now have a playlist of Savannah videos, which you demand to see daily (“Nana?….Nana?….NANA?!?!). You two even had your first FaceTime date/call – chaperoned, of course. You blew each other kisses through the phone!!! Ashleigh and I about died.
Your Dad and I often talk about how amazing it is to be a parent. We think it’s because we don’t remember ourselves at this age, so we get to experience that time of our lives again. The look on your face when you solve a puzzle, how you learn a new word then use it 20 times in a row, the way your entire body trembles with excitement when you spot the playground – through you we get to share in the unadulterated joy of simply being alive.
And you, my son, are so alive. You love to sing, and clap, and laugh, and bow (a new trick learned from Savannah; you’re pretty proud of it). You smile endlessly, you flirt in public, you wiggle your booty every time you hear a song. You get joy not only from your own accomplishments, but from the knowledge that your actions have made others happy.
You are such a sweet, dear boy, and you have so much to teach us about living.