Your age now sounds like I’m over-counting. Eighteen, and even nineteen, sounded like you were still close enough to new that counting in months was to be expected. But here we are at twenty, and it somehow seems too much. You’re not so new at this game of life anymore. And you’re out to prove it, too.
You still surprise me every day with how much you have been paying attention. Fortunately, your daddy and I have been doing our best since you were born to curb our potty mouths, so with a bit of luck, that won’t be an issue. At least not for awhile. You pick up new words every day. Words that we don’t always realize how much we say. You tattle on yourself when you’re doing something to which we’ve previously said “no,” by saying “no” to yourself mid-act and until one of us realizes what you’re up to. Most of your current “no-nos” involve climbing.
You climb onto the backs of the couches to reach previously unreachable objects. You climb up into your high chair if the tray’s off, and you say “eat,” and “chair,” to alert us to your current state of hunger (or to let us know that you noticed your high chair sitting there and when you notice it there, it obviously must be time to eat). You climb the small bookshelf in your room to reach the fish bank and the lamp on top of your dresser. You climb up onto your changing table after diapering is through in order to finish whatever you were doing with the safety belt.
You are still enthralled by anything that fastens. And you’re learning how things fasten. You love walking around with Mommy’s or Daddy’s belts, and you hate getting out of chairs that have buckles. There was a time when you would even cry and throw a fit if we dared to separate your body from the safety restraints in your high chair or stroller. However, you have since matured enough that you understand there’s a time for everything, and it’s not always going to be time to sit in your seat and play with the buckles.
You are learning many words that have allowed you to ask for various things throughout the day. But my favorite request of yours remains wordless for now. You love music. And most of the time, if we have the stereo playing, you only occasionally glance up at it and notice it’s on. However, if it’s not playing, you want to play it. So you point and make a little noise, you look at me, and you start to dance. The best part is that you now know exactly which button to push on the stereo to start the music, and you can climb up to the back of the couch to reach it and everything, but you still point and dance. And I pretend that I don’t understand right away so that you will “ask” me again.
You jump on the bed. You run. You are beginning to grasp the magic of the fort. Since you were a tiny little infant, I knew that this day would come. Since that very first game of blanket peek-a-boo, I knew there would come a time when we would sit together in the dappled light underneath the hand made afghan like two halves of a secret, giggling and playing. I like forts, too, and I hope that if you ever feel the need to post a sign outside one of your blanket and furniture constructions that says “no girls allowed,” you might make an exception for your mommy.
You love the pool, and I know I should take you swimming more often, but as much as I like to go with you to the pool, I am torn between water fun time and my adult household responsibilities like grocery shopping, dishes, laundry and the occasional inspiration to organize and clean a little deeper some days. I’m also in the process of taking on some extra hours of work, which seems to have already begun to affect your mood. You cling to me. You climb on me. You cry “Mommy” when I try to put you down after rocking you to sleep.
Some days, you assert your will in such a way and demand so much of me that I find myself wound tight, easily agitated, impatient and crabby. Those days make it difficult to appreciate the truly amazing person that is emerging in you. I love that you have mastered so many things that have frustrated you in the past. And I love encouraging your attempts to master the activities and objects that continue to thwart you at this developmental stage. I try not to get upset with you, because outside the heat of the moment, I realize that you’re only doing the best you know how. That as perceptive and intuitive and intelligent as you are, there are still a lot of things you simply cannot grasp yet. So I try to correct my own mistakes, to shift my attitude so that instead of letting a single tantrum or the lack of an afternoon nap completely ruin my day, I can treat it as an opportunity to learn more about my son, my relationship to you, and even myself.
I’m having a great time helping you learn all sorts of new things. Thanks for teaching me some stuff along the way, too.