Tomorrow you will be 21 months old. Right now you are supposed to be napping, but you aren't, despite my best efforts, and I must confess to feeling just a bit peeved about this state of affairs. Especially since last night you woke in the middle of the night (many times) with a fever, and I awoke to small hands scrabbling under my shirt. Small hands that scrabbled under my shirt all night long. A cuddle-monkey at the best of times, your need for parental closeness multiplies exponentially when you're sick.
Sadly, you have already had one nasty nasty bug just a couple of weeks ago, which caused five days of fever and seven days and nights of parents who could not put you down asleep, not even on the couch, our usual standby when you're sick. I don't mean to sound callous or anything, I do feel sorry for you when you're miserable, but I'm merely trying to point out the whole chain reaction.
At this moment, it has just started to snow, big, fat, heavy flakes, the first snowfall of the season, and really your first snowfall (of course you've already experienced two winters but not in a really aware sort of way). You have become very aware of the weather lately, always commenting whether it's raining, windy or sunny ("naynay," "neenee" or "neenee") when we go outside. And now you keep looking out the window and saying, "No!" (snow).
We just had Hallowe'en, and we dressed you up in a store-bought zebra costume. (I started to feel guilty that I'm not talented enough to make you a costume, but then I remembered that I would have loved the luxury of a store-bought costume when I was a kid, so it's probably ok.) You enjoyed being a zebra, but at first refused to wear the hood portion on your head. We went to our next-door neighbour's house first ("Meee") and I suggested that putting the hood up would make for a better zebra effect. You said, "Oh," nodded once, and wore the hood up for the rest of the night. You kept saying, "Baba," then pointing at your chest. You loved being out at night and seeing all the other kids all dressed up. We didn't exactly trick or treat, since I felt guilty that you wouldn't actually eat any of the candy and it would all be for me and your dad, but we visited a few friends and neighbours. A few times I asked if you were ready to go home, and you kept saying, "Mo!" (more) so we kept walking. It was a surprisingly mild night for Hallowe'en and we enjoyed ourselves too.
You enjoyed seeing the pumpkins ("Deedee" for some reason - you continue to have some idiosyncratic pronunciations like "bobo" for sweater and "poo" for soup), but you weren't so keen on helping clean the pumpking out a few days earlier. You refused to touch the slimy, seedy bits, which I'd thought you might enjoy, since you enjoy helping out so much, but you would only use a large spoon, which wasn't terribly effective. So I separated out the seeds from the slimy bits myself and roasted the seeds, while your dad carved a black widow spider and you coloured with crayons on the newspaper underneath the pumpkin. It was an entirely pleasant family activity, with the Shins playing what seemed like the perfect Canadian autumn music, a band that you probably haven't heard of or if you have is so old I'm showing my age. Whatever. It was a nice afternoon is all I'm trying to say.
Earlier in the month we picked out the pumpkin at a local pumpkin farm and I took lots of pictures of you with your pumpkin-coloured hair among all the pumpkins, big and small. Your favourite part of that day was riding a wagon begin a real, live tractor, your first tractor ride. You also enjoyed riding in a smaller wagon that your dad pulled. You remain obsessed with all things wheeled.
With the cold weather, we have discovered you have a near-phobia of mittens, and a love of toques ("tu"). So far the fall's been so mild, we've been able to get away with having you tuck your hands under your legs to keep them warm, and if you take them out, I just ask if you want to wear mittens and you quickly tuck them back under. But today it is very cold so soon we will have to have some sort of confrontation. I think we'll try socks up to your elbows underneath your coat first.
One of your favourite games at the moment is "Snack!" Every time you utter the word "Naaaa!", you draw it out with such unbridled enthusiasm that in my mind it's always capitalized and followed by at least one exclamation mark. Anyways, the game. There are two versions, one where you take your small, bright orange toy plates and place a block or other small item on each one and sort of pass it around to some imaginary tablemates, or to whoever's actually in the room. The other version involves using pots, either real or toy, to cook the snack on a stove, either toy or imaginary. You put some small item in each pot, put the lid on, rattle it around the stove, and if it's an imaginary stove, you say, "Doh," then remove the lid and announce, "Naaaa!"
Thanksgiving dinner was the first time you used the word, or the first time I recognized your usage. We came into your grandparents' dining room and the moment you laid eyes on the table overflowing with food and place settings, you yelled with glee, "Naaaa!!!" I think you must have been quite hungry. Speaking of food, since I last wrote I've taken action on the food-throwing front. Now, when you throw food on the floor deliberately, I get you to pick it all up yourself and throw it out. I think you mostly enjoy it, although you often lose focus before the task is complete, and we have had at least one confrontation when you refused to pick them up, shaking your head and wearing an expression on your face exactly like I wore when I was 16 and my mom was asking me to do something I deemed beneath me. The standoff went on long enough that I was forced to drop my expectations and eventually settled for just having you pick up one piece, which you did, grudgingly. This scares me, a bit.
Overall, this month has seen a lot of laughter in our house, despite the illness and sleep deprivation. You just make me laugh so much right now, with your occasional short "Oh"'s to indicate you understand what I just said and stand corrected from what you'd previously thought, with your passion for sweeping and excitement for laundry, with the connections you make between things, and a million other small things I can't think of right now. You give us lots of hugs, often spontaneously, during which you say, "Awwwww." I'm not sure if it's your word for hug or an imitation of your dad's and my responses to your spontaneous hugs and cuddles.
Whatever mistakes await us down the road, the love your dad and I share for you is the biggest love either of us has ever experienced, a love that squeezes my chest and punches me in the gut with its expanding magnitude. Our futures are filled with uncertainty, but I believe you will never doubt that we love you always, unconditionally. Or at least that's my one major hope for you, that above all else, you will know you are loved.