Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Letter to Swee'pea: 19 months

Dear Swee'pea:

Today you are 19 months old. It's been a year since I started writing these letters to you and I still haven't gotten sick of them, of pausing to consider the ways you've changed in the past month and catalogue your current interests.

Granny's Hat

Over the past year, you've learned to climb up (and eventually down) stairs, walk and run. You've learned to chew real food and feed yourself. You've learned to use signs, body language and vocal utterances to bring our attention to things that interest you and make your wishes known. For example, just yesterday when I dropped you off for your second day at the new daycare centre, you wrapped all your limbs around me but one arm, which you extended towards the exit, index finger outstretched insistently, and repeated plaintively, "Bye bye bye bye," with increasing cadence and pitch. Your message was clear: "Let's get the hell outta Dodge, Mama!" It broke my heart that I couldn't just do as you wished and leave. I worry it might have broken yours just a bit too. I cried all the way to work, noticing only the dark and nasty parts of the world, like the dead squirrel flattened to the tarmac, its still-fluffy tail flapping around helplessly in the backdraft of all the cars passing it by. But enough of that nastiness.


Your vocabulary is growing so fast and furiously, I can barely keep up. Indeed, sometimes, I just have no idea what you're trying to tell me; your enunciation can occasionally be just a teensy bit... ambiguous. For example, "bebe" can mean any one of: baby (meaning anyone under 12), airplane, playground, sleepy or sleeping, sweeping, strawberry, raspberry (the whoopie cushion variety not the fruit, which you don't like), grapes, chickpea, green bean, or, as I discovered other day, ice cream.

(Do I need to state that you are a hearty eater? Or is it already obvious from the epicurean evolution of your vocabulary?)


You are very friendly, calling out hello to every person we encounter on our walks. Sadly, it comes out as "whoawhoa" and not everyone realizes that a) you're talking to them or b) you're saying hello. I try to translate for you, and usually people then reciprocate, which makes you happy. I think your friendliness brings warmth and a bright spot to the day of everyone you encounter. (Of course I'm your mom, so I could be a little biased. Who knows? Maybe you annoy the heck out of them.)


Our friend, Warren, who helps us in the garden, is one of your favourite people. You call him Na and talk about him all the time. Needless to say, Na loves his new name (mostly) and that you think so highly of him. You love being in our backyard and digging in the dirt with him.

Another word/concept you've discovered this month is rain. One day when it was raining and we were going stircrazy in the house with no car to go somewhere more fun, I took you out on the porch and held your hand out to feel the cold raindrops. "It's raining," I said, and you repeated, "naynay." Intriguingly, you've expanded the word from the water drops that fell from the sky that day to puddles, both indoors and out, condensation on windows, dew on flowers, and even teardrops rolling down my cheeks once.

You're still kind of boring on the playground, collecting sticks, leaves, and/or pine cones, exclaiming, "ah nana" (which could mean another one, lasagne, banana, or Granny, depending on the context) with each one. If you're not collecting sticks then you'll be climbing stairs and sitting down on them with a contented sigh or grunt of exertion like an old person. I can't think where you've learned that. Except for yesterday, when I took the camera to the playground with us to take pictures of your "play," and you decided to try climbing up some monkey bars, and barely sat on any of the stairs, which just goes to show me -- you will not be pigeonholed.


This month has seen some less than stellar moments from me, leaving me remorseful and drained: tears (the double whammy came when you, frightened, pointed at my tears and said, "naynay," piercing my already sad heart like a knife), loss of patience, even yelling at you once or twice (like when you grabbed a colander of freshly washed and trimmed green beans from the sink and dumped them all over our dirty floor -- what if it had been a knife handle that you grabbed?). Now that I'm trying to make dinner every night before your daddy comes home, the dinner hour -- when we're both tired and hungry -- can be a bit fraught to say the least. But I think things are getting better now that we're adjusting to our new routine (thank goodness!).

This month you also went through a hydrophobic phase when you refused to sit down in the tub and just wailed at the injustice of bathtime. Most times we just gave up and put you in your pajamas, but once or twice you were a bit whiffy and in desperate need of a some cleansing so we washed you standing up while you made your misery clear. Eventually I figured out that you would tolerate a "raining bath" where I let you stand in the tub with the water running. Finally, I bought you some new bath toys. Ever since you saw the new bath toys -- a basketball hoop (or boo as you call it) that sticks to the tub and three colourful balls to put in it and a little waterwheel that also sticks to the tub that you can pour water over to make it spin -- you've been back to your hydrophilic self, once again crying when we take you out. Only the promise that you can play with the bath toys again tomorrow night and the distraction of your toothbrush will quiet you.

This morning you have little purple half-moons under your poor little eyes, the result of too much crying over the last two days of adjusting to your new daycare centre. I hope things get easier for you soon. I don't know how much more I can handle. If I had the power, I would choose a life of sunshine and light for you, a life with no unhappiness. But I don't have that power, and life isn't like that anyways. I've resigned myself now to just trying to offer what comfort I can, and to foster resilience and for when I can't.


Love always and forever,


niobe said...

I'm sure that others have made similar comments on earlier letters (I dunno, maybe it was me who said something like this before), but it's nonetheless absolutely true: Swee'pea is very lucky to have a mom who is recording his baby and toddlerhood so vividly and beautifully in both words and pictures.

Mimi said...

Ah yes. He's getting bigger, and developing, and being his own little self. I love his ambiguous words and his old-man grunting.

I know the purple half moons, and the crying, and the fraught supper hour, the heartbreak at daycare. But it does all come together sometimes, eventually, ususally. It'll be okay.

Beautiful photos, of a beautiful boy.

slouching mom said...

The second and the fourth photographs -- my God, woman. Gorgeous.

This month's letter, as always, is breathtaking.

Kyla said...

Oh my, the photos this time, GASP. Pure beauty. Or rugged handsomeness, I mean. ;) The photos, like Swee'Pea, are just breathtaking!

And what a little boy he is becoming. I love it.

Mad Hatter said...

Look at little SD looking out of SP's face. His resemblance to his father is, at times, uncanny.

Beautiful, as always, and the line, "the epicurean evolution of your vocabulary" is delicious.

Suz said...

I am constantly amazed at the beauty of the pictures that you take of Swee'pea. I can see the visible love in each and every one.

flutter said...

if he said "whoawhoa!" to me, I would be thrilled.

Beck said...

He's a cutie!
The Boy was scared of the tub too at that age. It lasted for A YEAR. I don't think he sat down in water for A YEAR.

Bon said...

such a beautiful expressive series of photos, especially the watchful, puffed up little man at the end.

i love these.

thirtysomething said...

Such a touching letter to your little one. He is so wonderfully cute!
My youngest also rebelled at bathtime a couple months ago--out of nowhere. Like one day she loved it and the next HATED the very idea. These times can be very trying, but the precious times when they talk to you, look into your eyes, hug you, those moments last forever!
I also keep written journals for my four kids, began them during each pregnancy, but no longer have the time to write each month. Now the journals are more a record of special accomplishments and high moments...what you are doing for your little guy is something to cherish for sure.

Christine said...

oh the injustice of bathtime! what a great phrase...

and i am coming to so love these letters to see'pea. they are beautiful.

Aliki2006 said...

I'm so sorry things have been tough...

What a beautiful letter--again. I always find them so touching.

Jennifer said...

This is so sweet and tender and the mama love is so beautifully expressed. This sentence of yours: I cried all the way to work, noticing only the dark and nasty parts of the world... completely captured how I have felt, many times, when I've had a difficult morning with my kid(s)... *sigh*.

Swee'pea sounds like such a fun and happy little guy. And I adore that photo of him attempting to climb the big "ladder" with his little legs trying to stretch tall. That's an award-winner!

Lisa b said...

Aww what a sweet little man.