Today you are twenty-three months old. And I find you fascinating. We just returned from another Wisconsin visit, and it seems like you brought home a whole bunch of new talents and new words. For example, you can kick a ball, or hit it with a bat while it’s moving (on the ground, not so much in the air just yet). When you ask for something, now, and we interpret you correctly, repeat the right word, you nod with that light in your eye and say, “Okay.”
Because when you ask for something and we figure it’s a reasonable enough request, we rarely say “yes,” or “sure,” or even “you betcha.” We say, simply, “Okay.”
You are such a happy kid. You like to run and jump and dance. You have been working on some new moves, adding a little bit of arm work to the old bounce or sway motions. Your musical tastes are really starting to emerge. The two albums of kid’s music that you’ve had the longest are permanent residents in our five-disc changer, but recently, you stumbled across one of your dad’s Weezer albums, and I think you were pleasantly surprised with what came out of the stereo when I put that disc in it. We danced and jumped and spun all around together. We drummed. We laughed. And laughed.
You have a smile for everyone, though sometimes it takes you a minute to warm up. I’ve noticed this in you, and I see myself in you in those minutes. Most people don’t remember the very first time they meet your mother. Often, the memory stuck in their head is an encounter well past that initial meeting. And in those memories of me, I tend to look pretty outgoing or fearless, completely wacko or a little risque. Before that, though, there’s hesitation. If I’ve opened up in a big or surprising way, it’s usually because I’ve gotten comfortable. Comfortable with the person, the relationship or the setting as a whole. And maybe no one else notices that hesitation, those few nanoseconds it takes before you become comfortable enough to turn on the charm, but I can’t help seeing it, knowing it all too well, and hoping that you always come out true to yourself in the end.
When we walk anywhere, you prefer to hop or run instead. And as long as you’re holding hands through the parking lots or across streets, I think it’s pretty fun. And I’m starting to see in you a love of making music and an emerging imagination. Every ball needs a bat, whether it’s a chopstick or a telephone or an actual toy bat. And anything can be an instrument. We have a shape sorting barrel for a drum, its hollow blocks serving as trumpets or clarinets. The chopsticks, too, take on a musical identity as both drumsticks and the occasional flute. The empty toilet paper or paper towel roll that were once merely telescopes or trash, have become a type of wind instrument like none I’ve ever heard, playing a sweet melody of “buh buh buh buh buh.”
You love food. It doesn’t really matter what we serve, you will try it. And even though dairy is still on the no-no list, you found yourself in a little bit of heaven when we were in the Midwest. It wasn’t necessarily the regional flavors, but rather the fact that grandparents are always more than happy to provide anything and everything a hungry little tummy could desire. Your Grandma D was making dinner one night, steak and corn on the cob with a side of beefsteak tomato and cucumber slices. She set the veggies on the table and was also preparing a special dish of peas, carrots, beans and corn vegetable medley just for you, and turned around to find you swiping a cucumber from the table as one might sneak a cookie or a piece of contraband candy from under a parent’s or grandparent’s nose. We had to stop you from stealing the food before mealtime, but do you know how hard it is to discipline a kid even just a little bit for eating vegetables? I’m pretty sure none of us could do it with a straight face, anyway.
The other day I was changing your diaper. It was a good day. I called you my sweetheart. You smiled up at me, pointed to your chest and said, “heart.”
Yes, I said, that’s exactly right.