You are eighteen months old now. I’m so sorry that I haven’t taken the time to properly acknowledge seventeen. It’s totally my fault. The days are getting shorter in more ways than just the one, but trust me, we’ve been having an awesome time together!
When Michael started school, I looked forward to spending my days with you, just us. But I’m afraid that I didn’t do a very good job of giving you the time and attention you really needed at first. There were always lists of things to get done, and while I would often include you in my daily rounds of chores, sometimes you got shorted. I’m working on doing better, now that we’re more familiar with this new normal, though. And you do take it upon yourself to help me pay attention, too. Like when I do the dishes and you need some fun, you press yourself into my legs and shove your way through them and around and around.
We’ve begun taking an almost daily walk together. The weather has been cooperating beautifully lately, and it is one of your favorite things to do with me when we’re outside. In fact, if you realize that we’re not heading right to the car, you will reach for my hand when we hit the sidewalk and tug me in the direction you wish to go. Those first few weeks of school were kind of crazy, but now that we’ve settled into the new pattern of our days, I look forward to meandering around the block, picking up sticks and stones and noticing bushes and dogs and planes in the sky, almost as much as you do. You lead me. You hang onto my hand as you crouch down to examine a rock or a twig. Or hit a leaf with a stick or a rock. You’re enjoying the way the fallen leaves crunch underfoot or in your hands. And your favorite stop along our daily path is the sewer grate at the end of our alley. You could spend all day dropping stones, leaves or dirt down to see what happens when each object hits the water below.
You miss your brother when he’s at school. Nearly every time we leave the house, you ask for, “Ki-chael?” And you occasionally say the same thing when we’re just hanging around. And honestly, because of your grandma, I can’t always tell if you’re asking for Michael or a “cocktail,” which is just your way of asking for something to drink. It’s beginning to become clearer, now that you’re forming more and more words every day, and you have been doing very well repeating what you hear. Which means we’re getting closer to the point of needing to turn off certain media while you’re in a conscious state. You have always been an astute observer of your world, and you mimic us and your brother with sometimes surprising accuracy. The other day, he was bragging about his muscles, and you insisted that yours were just as amazing to behold.
I’ve taken to making myself a smoothie for the main part of my lunch. It’s easy and quick, not to mention delicious. And lucky for me, your nap sometimes coincides with lunch, so I can enjoy my smoothie as I do whatever it is that’s on my list to do without your “helping” hands. Because you love smoothies. Which is great, because as I said, they are quick and easy and full of healthy deliciousness, but they are also very pink and messy, which you don’t seem to mind as much as I do.
You still get very upset anytime the vacuum comes out, so we’ve tried to make it so you can be out of the house when that needs to get done. Unfortunately, your aversion to it is one more reason that particular chore may not get done as much as it probably should. However, you do love to help with whatever else needs doing. You were beyond thrilled when I let you scrub the toilets. If I hand you the duster, you’ll follow my movements through the house exactly. You wipe the table. You sweep the floor. You push my grocery cart. You are just so enthusiastic about doing everything just like the big kids do. You would cook dinner yourself every night if I would just lift you up and let you get your hands on that spoon.
You have started to sing along with your Rock ‘n Roll Elmo, and you really seem to like music. You even dance and clap a little bit, and it’s quite fun to sit down and sing along with you. You also like to count and recite the alphabet. You can’t really say any of the actual numbers or letters, aside from maybe “a” or “c,” but you’ve got the right inflection, and it brings a big smile to your face when we figure out that you’re counting and we count along with you. You like to play ball, and your form is… interesting. It used to be the way you danced, and now has become the way you pitch. You lean way over to one side before letting the ball fly from your hand. sometimes you tip so much that you fall right to the floor. You always let us know right where you want us to be, too, whether it’s to receive your perfect pitch or to sit down for snuggles or a favorite show for screen time.
You sit on the potty every day at least once at bedtime and sometimes other times. And most nights, I can even get you to do your business there. It’s a great accomplishment for one your age, and lately, you have gotten as happy with your successful toilet visits as I am. You flush and clap your hands and shout, “Yay!” and run through the house naked as the day you were born. Maybe I shouldn’t write about that here, but since the potty has been a familiar thing to you pretty much your whole life, now that you’re starting to really understand the concept, cause and effect of things, it’s pretty neat to see how you’re making the routine your own.
You are still quite the daredevil and can’t resist the stairs. Any stairs. And you’ve taken to following your brother’s lead when he climbs the furniture. You can now officially reach (and pull your body onto) the kitchen counter. I had to remove one of the glass shelves from the entertainment center because you had hoisted your body onto the shelf below and knocked it off the supports with your head, thinking you could then use that shelf as a ladder to reach the very top, where the best toys, like picture frames and DVDs, are kept. You have been practicing your climbing on the playground at Michael’s school when we drop him off or pick him up. You can hold your own, now, even when the place is teaming with wild and crazy elementary students. You follow them up and over and around and through, and you will rage if any of the kids dare to offer a helping hand or stand in your way. You have no fear and seem to have no idea that you are still so much smaller than they are. You can do anything. You truly believe that, and it’s one of the many things I absolutely adore about you.
You finally say “mama” on a regular basis, although I’m not entirely sure you’ve connected it with me beyond the contents of my bra. When we sit down or I pick you up, you pat or point to my chest and say, “mama,” and I will nurse you because as much as I laugh about it or roll my eyes that all I am is a pair of breasts to you, I know it’s not true. And after all, it is a pretty sweet way to ask. And at least you say it more often for me now, which I never thought would happen. And even when you refused to say that very special word to me, I never doubted you knew exactly who I was and precisely where you belonged. Right there, curled up in close proximity to this mama’s heart.