Dear Baby AB,
It’s hard to believe it’s already, and only, been a year since you came on the scene in person.
The night I laboured with you, so many people could hardly wait to for you to arrive. There were people scattered across the city, the province, the continent, who were thrilled to hear about you, but none more than your family. Your big brother E was so excited, but the waiting was hard for him – we’d been trying to get things going all weekend. Auntie Em stayed with him that night, reassuring him and answering all his questions, while Daddy and I were helping you out into the world.
Your healthy birth and your spirited presence were such a relief and such a joy – and a huge adjustment, too.
At twelve months of age, your personality is a force to be reckoned with, one that has changed and elevated all our lives. You’re like a shining rainbow balloon – apt to awe the world with your round, tranquil beauty one moment, and explode noisily the next.
People often comment on what a good-natured baby you are. You love people and engage with others readily, using your incredibly expressive (and deliciously kissable) face and hands to draw them in. No one could be hard-hearted upon hearing you laugh or seeing you play peekaboo.
Most people don’t witness you asserting your INALIENABLE RIGHT to have things EXACTLY AS YOU WANT THEM. That’s when you use your earsplitting shrieks, your most tragic expressions, your gymnastic writhing and arm-flailing. It’s quite a sight to witness. When you decide you’re being wronged, there is very little that will soothe you. And yet, your joy is palpable and contagious when things go your way.
So, at the first birthday mark, what matters to you? What takes you from agony to ecstasy and back?
Things you love:
- Your family: You love to nap in the crook of Daddy’s arm; seeing your brother in the mornings makes you wiggly and excited; you and I have wonderful snuggles; and you have so many doting grandparents and aunts and uncles you love to be with, too.
- Mama’s milk: there are still some situations that only nursing can soothe, and you’re very possessive of it. You clearly believe that my “milk jugs” are your territory.
- Kisses: you have recently learned to give kisses. We who receive them are so charmed by your “mmmah” that we always exclaim, “Thank you!” It was pretty much the cutest thing ever in the universe when you started giving kisses and then saying “Thank you!” yourself.
- Food: we’ve been encouraging you to try lots of things so you will have an easier time with food than your brother, and it seems to be working. You are happy eating practically everything we’ve given you so far, including curried lentils, quiche, lasagna, perogies, chili, tahini-mustard sauce, and most recently and voraciously, seaweed snacks. It’s awesome. (The other day at the park, along with your apple slices, you inadvertently also ate a wasp. That was NOT so awesome. Well, you didn’t actually eat it, but you certainly munched on it, in spite of my [apparently inadequate] vigilance – it was well dead when I scooped it from your mouth. Gah, heart attack for Mommy.)
- Music and dancing: we put on the tunes and you hold onto the table edge or someone’s knee and bop up and down. IT. IS. ADORABLE. We try to do lots of dancing with you.
- Cats: one of your first words was “GATTT!” They always make you smile. When you were still tiny and nursing all the time, and poor Nico would try to share my lap with you, you would just grab his ear and hold on. You are still learning to be gentle.
- Bonobo: there’s a picture in our kitchen of a bonobo with its simian mouth wide open – a picture that used to fascinate your brother, too. You love to point to it during meals and say, “Bobo!” with your big eyes and your ooo-mouth.
- Babies: whenever you see a baby’s face on anything, you get all grinny and pointy and say beebee a bunch of times. You immediately latched onto your brother’s baby doll the first time you saw it, and you lick her face whenever you get the chance.
- The bath: you seem to love being in the water, especially now that you get to share the bathtub with your brother and his toys. There’s drama when we remove you.
- Exploring: you are going to be a climber, I think. You would dive headfirst down the stairs if we let you. Although you haven’t started walking yet, you have experimented with no-hands standing and seem to find it exhilarating. Watch out, world.
- Tickles: you get lots of these because hearing you laugh is fantastic. And now you’ve learned to say “Tico tico tico!”
- Being a ham: it’s one of the funnest things about you. You love making silly faces, and putting your arms way up, or on your cheeks, for emphasis. Irresistible.
- Stuff you’re not supposed to play with: cat food, toilet paper, pencils, markers, small/sharp things, squishy balls you can take chunks out of with your teeth. You’re all over that stuff.
- Talking: you babble very expressively, especially when we read to you. And you’re learning new words so fast our minds are boggled (34 at last count). Yesterday you said something that sounded exactly like “It’s a ball!” (A sentence? Can that be real?? It’s a little freaky.) Also, I’m pretty sure you were speaking Parseltongue last evening when you were lulling yourself to sleep. I kind of expected snakes to emerge from the plumbing.
Things that elicit bloodcurdling screams:
- When I take your (my) milk away before you’re precisely, exactly ready.
- Too many kisses: you love them, but you do have a limit and DON’T CROSS IT, people.
- Diaper changes: wrestling! Flipping over! Unholy screeching! It’s impressive. And tiring.
- Sitting in your eating chair when you’re not precisely, exactly in the mood.
- Too much car time. We had a few dicey moments going to and from Cape Cod, but overall you were a trouper – especially considering that you used to scream through ANY car ride, particularly at stoplights.
- Getting out of the bath, as mentioned above.
- Having your face wiped. How dare we?
- Not enough snuggling, or too much snuggling, or putting you down, or picking you up, before you’re precisely, exactly ready.
So… you’re not the easiest baby in the world. But you are wonderful.
And actually, I’m glad for your toughness. For one thing, it has kept us from romanticizing (too much) your status as our Rainbow baby, so wished-for and worried-over… You being so forthright and determined and loud means that we live firmly in reality. No danger of over-idealizing or coddling this kid – which wouldn’t do you any favours anyway.
I hope you keep this, too – this knowing what you want and don’t want, and making no bones about it. I’m glad you object when someone crosses your personal boundaries in a way you don’t like. (Though I hope you will learn a bit of diplomacy someday.) You go right ahead and be a tough kid, and a flinty kind of woman. We are all proud of you.
I love the time we spend together. I love watching you and your brother being silly and making each other laugh. I love watching you get absorbed by a book or toy (or some other random item) on your own: the way your dimply little fingers handle things, the studious way you examine them. I love the kisses and snuggles, and I even love (on some level) the screams and thrashing, because that’s you being YOU.
And you are sensational, little girl. We love you beyond all description. Go get ’em.