How to summarize the past year? Angst over breastfeeding has given way to angst/certainty that you will never give up the bottle (now at some 35 oz/day!) for inefficient solid foods, although the occasional banana chip or cheddar bunny gives us hope. You transformed from a needy sack of potatoes into a wriggly upright-sitter and now into a busy crawler, stair-climber, and cat-chaser. We’re starting to feel like all this ever-changing novelty is a normal part of our lives, though there are times when your new demandingness (ENH!!) can drain us dry. Still, we’re crazy about our and your emerging personality---from the affectionate head-butt (endearing to parents, if alarming to cats) to your obsession with music of all kinds (sadly, we have yet to catch you on film "rocking out" to rock tunes and ABC’s), love of the bath (now with buckets!), and pranksterish grin as you hide behind the bathroom door or get into a game of doing something minor you know you shouldn’t. You helped us out by having a semi-regular schedule from the beginning (expect to feed me every 2.5 hours!), sleep-training yourself at nine weeks, and still being relatively predictable in eating and sleeping habits. However, taking only two half-hour naps per day can be tough on your caretakers, even with a bedtime around 6:30pm, which gives us a little adult time to eat, watch TV, and do our computer-using or mail-sorting silliness before collapsing into bed between 9:00 and 10:00pm (those 6am wake-ups have slain our night-owlish ways!) Recently, Gammy has started having you over overnight a few Friday nights per month, which lets your parents grab a few drinks, sleep in, and generally recharge for your next onslaught of energy.
Your temperment can catch us by surprise. You will launch yourself down a slide head-first, scamper through a tunnel, and walk the length of the couch to reach something appealing, but nothing will induce you to sit on the rocking-horse giraffe that your grandparents sent for your birthday. Similarly, when at a gathering of other kids and parents, you might grab some toys and watch your peers intently, or you might get overwhelmed by all the input and wail for rescue. Your dad tried taking you to a weekly tumbling class for a while, but a fair number of the activities made you cry; we hope that you’ll see the merits of such things eventually, but only time will tell.
What does engage you unreservedly?
- Things that are blue. You always end up with one hand tightly gripping the blue block/ball/shape/car while the other hand plays with other pieces or pulls you jerkily across the floor. Apparently your father had a similar color preference as a child, so this is just the first expression of the many ways in which you will enjoy the benefits of your warped genetic heritage. Sorry, kid!
- Manual manipulation. You love to handle and work things, and can focus on such activities for remarkable stretches of time. Some favorite pastimes include opening and closing our bedroom door (or our magical closet pocket door), poking buttons of your own "keychain" and "remote" (and resetting our humidfier), and, most of all, playing with toys like the house that allow you to drop balls, deliver mail, turn numbers, open and close a window, press a doorbell, flick a lightswitch, play a radio tune, and spin and handle other things---I think the first time you were introduced to this toy, you worked so hard pushing, flipping, crawling around, and exploring (for some 45 minutes!) that you nearly needed defibrillators afterward. Two other faves in this category are a simple set of stacking buckets (which can be infinitely put into and out of each other, stacked upside-down or towers knocked over, and rattled and banged) and a music table where motions of levers, sliders, and keys are rewarded with jammin’ tunes or instructional chat. You’re still figuring things out---shape sorters are still mostly for inserting the circle-shape over and over, and wooden puzzle pieces more for removing than putting back---but you attack these activities with an intensity that is fascinating to see (and probably portends a geeky future in the math, science, and engineering fields like your folks; you can blame thank us later).
- And I suppose it would be silly to overlook love of cameras. We never get out our still or video cameras without weathering a series of assaults, as you interrupt whatever cute thing you were doing to grin and approach, hand out, to say, "can I have that? surely I can have that!" resulting in a host of unpresentable, if lovable, shots.
What else? You got two teeth at six months and apparently decided that that was enough---hints of the upper pair have been coming and going for a month or more. Similarly, your hair has at last become three-dimensional, but only faintly so, sparing us (or your grandma) any temptation toward clips or bows (or, really, any need for brushing). No idea how you’ll look when you have real Kid Hair, but we look forward to finding out.
On the speech front, you’ve replaced your early hits "ging ging" and "dye dye dye dye" with lots of conversationally inflected jabber along the lines of "enh? Enhh!" although we do recognize a multi-note "hi!" and you can be induced to say "mama" while looking at pictures. (Your mom anticipates her heart melting the first time it’s directed at her!) Even more, we have become aware in recent weeks of how many words you recognize and understand---light, bottle, music, nap, books, kitty, and stairs are just the most obvious (as well as "potty" over at Gammy’s house), but you respond to a wide variety of suggestions and questions that indicate that you probably have hundreds of words in context. Your mom is trying to introduce some sign-language signs that might help you communicate until your words come together, but Dad and Gammy have enough else going on that they don’t always do likewise, so this effort may or may not succeed---if not, then you’ll have to be strategic rather than sentimental about your choice of early words to learn so that we aren’t stuck watching you sob with a finger pointing adamantly off into the distance . . .
Well, that’s about it, Pook. (One of us sometimes calls you "pook," short for the embarrassing "pookie-poo"---the other favors "Gaster," derived from the real-name-homophonic "Melanogaster," a species of fruit fly (don’t argue).) At one year you’re poised on the cusp of many things---walking, speech, a blossoming of opinions and desires---that will change your life and ours again to an unforeseeable degree. But nothing can match having you arrive on our doorstep and rewire our lives from top to bottom so that we could watch your little self unfold (and try to stay out of the way). Am reminded of my attempts to teach you the game of Chase---you’re not sure about why you should run away, especially since you like being scooped up and snuggled/tickled whenever a chase ends, but you love to play anything silly. Thanks for coming along and bringing us your giggles, and thanks for reminding us that sometimes the best part of the game is being caught. None of the rest really matters.