You have been seventeen months old for a little more than a week, and I have been avoiding writing this letter because you have also been sick for a little more than a week and there have been times this week that I have doubted whether all three of us would come out the other end with our sanity intact. Yesterday, your father had to go back to bed for an hour to try to rediscover a small amount of patience, and Mommy has needed to sample quite a bit of wine to the same end. I don't want to dwell too much in it, though, because I am not the most pleasant person to be around when I am sick, so I can sympathize, and also because it is definitely the exception that proves the rule. Almost every day with you right now is so wonderful and fun and exciting that I almost hate to describe our lives for fear people will think I am lying to make it seem better than it is. I am not lying, it really is that good.
You learned a lot of new signs and words this month, and also learned how to string them together into a series of detailed demands. You can tell me you want to sit in your chair and have cereal and water. You can tell me you want to put on your shoes, hat and coat and go bye-bye in Mommy's car. You can tell me you see a doggy or a monkey or a bear or a birdie. You favorite word by far is "ball." Your father and I could spend every waking moment throwing, fetching and bouncing your balls and it would still not be enough to satisfy you. You demand ball while you are eating, while we are reading, sometimes even while you are sleeping.
Your favorite games this month were Hide and Seek and Fanball. For Hide and Seek, you run into the powder room downstairs and wait for me to shut the door. Then I open the door and run like crazy to hide from you. You come barreling out of the bathroom and wander around searching until you find me, or until you are distracted by a stray soy chip you find on the floor. Then we do it again, for hours. I have been trying to teach you how to hide, but you don't quite get the point as it is not nearly as much fun as seeking. Fanball involves either throwing a small plastic ball at the fan in the kitchen and trying to get it caught on the light fixture, or, more often lately, lifting you up to the fan clutching the blue ball (always the blue ball) in your little fist and getting my face stomped on until you get the ball caught in the light. It's more fun than it sounds. Or at least it is more fun that a few hours of playing Buckles which involves, you guessed it, closing and opening various buckles.
This month you learned how to climb up on the kitchen chairs and the glider in your room and onto Mommy and Daddy's bed. You learned how to run, although it is still more of a rapid, barely-controlled stagger than an actual run. You are trying very hard to learn how to jump, and I can see you sometimes concentrating and just willing your little body to leave the floor. You have not, however, discovered that there is a physical component to jumping that must accompany the mental component, so I think you have a ways to go on that one.
You love to sing songs, and can request the ones you want by using the various signs you have invented to represent them. You love to be tickled, love to climb up on my bed and throw yourself down on the pillows, and love more than anything to do things yourself. You are still very particular. Doors that are usually closed must remain closed, and heaven forbid I leave one of the baby gates open because you will scream at me until I come running back to close it. Your hands and clothes must be clean at all times, but this does not extend to your hair, which frequently sports mashed banana or spaghetti after you used your head to wipe your hands. Out of sight, out of mind, I suppose.
You seem to learn new things by the minute lately, mostly by copying me which scares me a little bit. I suppose the best way to break my bad habits will to see the mini-me versions acted out over the next months and years.
The one thing I will say about this past week, is that even when you are driving me up the everloving wall with the whining and the tantrums and the refusing to eat solid food for four days purely out of spite, even when I want nothing more than to run out of the house just to get away from you for a few blessed, peaceful minutes, even then I love you more than anything in the world, more than I ever understood it was possible to love, so much that it is a physical presence, a weight that sits on my shoulders and chest and that I carry around with me all the time. I don't think you can fully understand it unless you have a child of your own, and if you do someday have a child I want you to know that the way you feel in those moments so distant and foreign that I can barely imagine them now, that is the way I feel about you. There is no other way to describe it, you will just have to wait and see.