Ack! Today you are 17 months old. We are heading off to the cottage today, and I can't help but think about the last time we were there, about 11 months ago. Then, you were just beginning to perfect your inchworm crawl before you could even sit (in fact you sat up unsupported for the first time at the cottage). Now, you have discarded your newish walking skills in favour of running, arms straight out behind you like a ski jumper or sometimes like a penguin. Then, I was demented with the heat and a desperate, ultimately unsuccessful mission to get you to sleep in the crib. Now, you sleep in the crib sometimes and with us sometimes and I'm no longer stiff and sore when I wake in the morning. Then, I was too scared to let your skin see the sun, except for once at five in the afternoon when we took you for your first 'swim.' Now, I am just beginning to realize that the cottage will feature far scarier hazards than the sun for a boy of your age (like, 150 steps down to the lake, and the lake, and the deck that stands 15 feet above the ground, although I'm pretty sure Grandpa's railings are strong).
You remain a water creature, however, and I can't wait to see your joy splashing in the lake. This month, we have discovered in you a great love of sprinklers, and you have become an even bigger fan of your baths, if that were possible, crying when we take you out some nights.
You have experienced quite a few firsts this month: your first tractor 'ride,' your first time figuring out how to ride a toy motorbike thing. You have gotten really good with a wheelbarrow too. Last weekend you sat in a booster seat for the first time at our local greasy spoon, after indicating that you were having nothing to do with their high chair thank you very much. After seeing your cousin Z eat a banana with the peel, whole, instead of in unpeeled pieces, you have also indicated that you will no longer eat banana bits, only with the peel on. And I almost forgot, this month you slept through the night, and in your crib, for the first time. You did it again just last night for the second time.
These things may seem insignificant, but they aren't to us. It seems like you are driving your own growth. Left to our own devices, we would never let you reach new milestones; we would keep you forever in our arms and doing the safe things that we've adjusted to you doing. Yet you keep pushing and striving inorxorably towards what I don't know. The destination doesn't really matter anyways; we have no choice but to go along with the ride.
Up to this point, you haven't really had any interest in tv, and we haven't made any effort to cultivate an interest. But this month you have discovered the Teletubbies. In fact, you're watching it right now, touching the tv, laughing uproariously, and calling out. Your daddy also likes Teletubbies, and I find it remarkable that he remembers the time and channel for it every morning, when he can't remember times and channels for any other show he enjoys.
I'm sad to report that you are obsessed by cars and trucks and all things with wheels. Although it's adorable the way you point to trucks passing our car and every single parked car we pass in the stroller, and how excited you get when we pass construction zones with all their big yellow diggers and dump trucks, I confess I'm a little disappointed in your fascination. There's the gender conformity issue, not to mention the environmental impact of these vehicles. I guess we have lots of time to teach you about that though.
I think we should get you a doll, but the truth is I find a lot of dolls creepy: so many of them roll their eyes back in their head or just look out at the world vacuously in a possessed, horror movie kind of way. Nevertheless, yesterday at our local independent baby store, I handed you the doll they use for demonstrations for expectant parents who have no clue what most of the store's merchandise is for. You fell in love and cuddled that doll and when we had to leave and give it back, you wept. If we could have bought that doll we totally would have but they didn't sell any dolls that you liked; only that one demonstration model. When daddy explained that that doll lives there and we can come back and visit it you only sobbed more.
This month you have discovered nodding in the affirmative to go along with the shaking of your head in the negative that you've been doing for a couple of months now. The result is adorable if a bit inconsistent; I don't think you've quite grasped the nuances of some questions. So if I ask you if you've had enough, you'll nod your head once, emphatically with an equally emphatic and quick, "Ba!", but if I then ask if you've finished, you'll shake your head no. You may or may not eat any more at this point.
You have also started noticing the images on the shirts you wear. Your favourite is your pajama shirt with Tigger on it, the one your Grampa and Gramma Ps gave you for your first birthday in South Africa. Just in time for this new development, a new shirt arrived from South Africa, this one from your Great Auntie L and Great Uncle J. You love it.
I think my favourite part of your current age is the growing sophistication of your sense of humour. Not long ago, shortly after gettting out of bed, you discovered the hilarity of sitting on your sleeping leopard. Sadly, it took me so long to get the camera and its settings right for a barely sharp image that I missed the laughter.
Often, you will repeat endlessly, "Mama?" And I will respond, "Yes, honeypot?" And you will ask again, "Mama?" like one of those endless knock knock jokes. Sometimes it gets a bit tiresome, but I still get a thrill every time you utter that magic word Mama. Anyways, the other day in the car, you were playing your little game and I was playing along:
"I'm right here, darling."
And so on. You get the drift. Anyways, you were silent for a moment so I piped up: "[Swee'pea]? [Swee'pea]? " And you totally got the joke. You laughed every single time I said it, (and I rather went on because your laughter still induces an opiate-like euphoria). That same day you perfected your raspberry technique on my belly, with whoopee cushion-like results and even bigger belly laughs. Ahh, the toilet humour starts young I guess, and I can assure you it will be much needed in this family.
Ever since you have been starting the night in your crib, your daddy has been the one getting up with you in the night. But the other night you woke when I was still awake, though I was in bed, and your daddy was asleep. It's been a long time since I've seen you at night in your crib, and to my shock you nearly fill it. Last night you were sitting up when I got there, and I picked up the soother and put it in your mouth and you melted back into sleep, your sleepy fingers playing a gentle tune on my hands, no longer the suffocating octopus grip of earlier times. I savoured that moment in the dark, your big-boy sleeping body all fuzzy edges and softness without my glasses on. You stirred a bit when the floor creaked loudly under the weight of my departure, and in the end it was a short time before you woke again and I just brought you into bed. But you are growing up. Even when you sleep in our bed, you no longer need to cuddle me all night long, you sleep in your own space now.
That said, you are still a fabulous cuddle monkey, stopping your play to smile at me and come over for a hug, and you pat and stroke my arm or my back in the most delicious adult-like but unmistakably toddler way. You have your moments that make me pull my hair out, like when you run away in the midst of a poopy diaper change or refuse to sit in your high chair, kicking and screaming, but all this month I have mostly been struck, again and again, by what a lovely child you are, smart, sensitive and warm.