If you're counting, you'll see that I missed the chance to write you a letter on your sixteen-month birthday. Here you are, seventeen months old, and your mother didn't write you a monthly letter last month! I hope you're not ruined for life. (I really do feel badly, so I'm sorry, buddy. I'll make this one twice as ... whatever these are.)
Up until about three weeks ago, I was pretty good about not letting you watch TV. But one day I needed 12 minutes to take a shower and voila! Sesame Street was on! And I remembered how much I loved it as a child, how I adored Ernie and Bert and Cookie Monster, and thought maybe it would amuse you for the few desperate minutes I needed to feel like a human being again. Lo and behold, you fell for it just as I had years (decades!) ago, and now you look for every opportunity to watch it. Your interest isn't so much in the whole show, though, as it is in one particular Muppet. As anyone close to you knows, you've developed a deep and constant friendship with Elmo. Your Ellie and Uncle J found an Elmo for you and when they presented it to you, your face lit up as if someone had just told you that you'd never have to suffer the indignity of being fed a meal again (more on that another time). Not only do you tuck Elmo beneath your arm when you nurse before bedtime, you say his name every time you see a computer, TV screen or iPhone, since various people have shown you clips of Elmo on each of those devices. And as I've noted before, you can be very persistent. "Elmo!" you announce. Or demand. "Elmo, Elmo, Elmo, Elmo, ELMO, ELMO ..." You always keep saying it until someone has acknowledged you in some way, preferably one involving YouTube.
What else is new this month? You're chattier than ever, which delights me. Most days, you actually wake up saying a word. This word has ranged from "No" to "Pool" to "Mom" to "Elmo!" The other day, just for kicks, I made a list of all the words you knew and could communicate, whether it was through sign language, gesture, tone or with actual words. And I finally stopped at about 90, convinced I was forgetting some. It's astounding what you can get people to understand. (Although to be fair, I would say that 85% of the time, you're asking for a remote, a phone, or Elmo. So maybe statistically it's not hard to believe that yes, we GET it.)
Here you are, demonstrating that should a skunk appear, you would know how to handle it. I was also simultaneously demonstrating that 1) it's always laundry day around here and 2) I am really good at folding towels.
You're quite the little ham these days, puppy, and the face below is one of my current favorites of yours. You don't really have a name for it, but you will paste this expression on the front of your head every time you sense that you're about to be in trouble. It never fails to crack me up.
We've had some success lately with you feeding yourself -- you certainly know what to do with a toddler spoon, following along with my "Scoop and eat!" chant with perfectly accompanying actions. However, you're much more interested in the process of biting food off to chew -- it's only been within the last month that you have realized that if someone hands you a large piece of food, you are not obligated to cram it into your mouth whole. The process of biting off manageable nibbles enchants you, and you demand lots of crackers for practicing. Here you are with your first cheese quesadilla.
Just last night, you gave me a tremendous gift. When you cried in your crib at 3:30 in the morning, your dad went to get you, and he brought you downstairs to snuggle up with us (our normal routine at some point in each night). Once you'd arrived, though, you seemed to have "lost your sleepy," and so after listening to you chatter quietly for 20 minutes, I accepted the inevitable and took you out into the family room so your dad could catch some more Zs. However, you really didn't want to play -- you wouldn't let me put you down. All you wanted to do was cuddle close to me in the lowly-lighted living room, and say, "Mom?" from time to time. I'd answer, "Yes, buddy?" and you'd tell me something in the unique and seemingly complex language you employ. I followed along as best I could, responding as accurately as possible, and we passed the most perfect 45 minutes in my recent memory, your warm weight a blanket around my heart. I will never forget that magical time with you in the wee hours, talking to my son as he lay with his head tucked beneath my chin. It was the first of many heart-to-heart mom-and-son conversations I hope we'll have, my boy, and it was special to me not just because you wanted a rare cuddle, or because your softly scented hair was right beneath my nose, but because you wanted nothing more than to talk to me, to have me listen to you, and to say, "Mom?" and know that I was there.
I always will be. Always.