Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Letter to Lucia: 16 Months

Dear Little One,

Happy sixteen-month birthday, little toddler. Every day brings something new right now, and it’s almost hard to keep up with all the changes. Some things are easy to record: you love apples, you’re getting two molars, you love your noise-making toy phone, you walk with authority. Others are harder. Words, for example—you repeat like a little parrot, often very precisely, but what to count as new words? Only those you offer on your own, I think, in the right situation or in reference to the right object. Your new ones are socks, shoes, and more.

You are still the cutest baby ever. But you are also becoming a bit of a wild card on some days, spurred—I hope—by teething. Some days nothing pleases you, or you become fixated on something forbidden—a wine cork, a pencil, Andrew’s computer—and cannot be distracted, becoming more and more angry. But you are also very often giggly and squealing—as we look at each other over and under the coffee table, which thrills you; as I hide behind a tall tower of big blocks and peek at you, which you find hilarious; as I use funny voices to say funny things in your favorite books. Voices please you, and you seem to understand when I’m saying something in a silly way, even if it’s something completely strange, like “Shrimps for sale!” (an actual line from a current favorite book).

You are not a very big fan of large groups of children, but with one other baby around you seem to have fun, as long as that child is your size and not too boisterous. Otherwise you keep to my side, or stay at the edges of the group. I’m seeing this same thing now that the weather is milder, mild enough, at least, to go to the playground for a bit. Though you walk rapidly and confidently all around the house—down the hallway, in and out of all the rooms, everywhere—as soon as we put you down outside, you squirm and hold your arms up and say “Up!”, refusing to take a step. At the playground today you stood by my side and ate Cheerios, opting out of exploring. I don’t know if you’re intimidated by the prospect of getting hurt or by other children or what, but I’m determined to change this. I need you to like the playground, because once it’s nice outside, I need you to play hard and take good naps.

Because you’re not taking good naps right now. You’ve steadily dwindled from one hour to forty minutes to thirty minutes, and this just cannot be. You need more rest; I need work time. I’ve blamed it on teething, on the winter, but who knows. So I’m holding out hope that good outdoor play in the spring will get your nap back on track. And so, dear one, I need you to like going outside. Hopefully you just need a bit of time to adjust to the outdoors. You certainly loved the playground in Mountain View—we spent hours there, and you weren’t even walking yet! Once it’s warmer perhaps you’ll come around.

Every now and then you do something that completely shocks me. Like yesterday, on Valentine’s Day, I made a butterfly by crossing my wrists and hooking my thumbs, something I do often when we see pictures of butterflies—and you did it yourself, with the wrist-cross and everything. And last night, when I was picking up some of your toys and suggested you bring some books to the bookshelf, you did—carefully carrying over a small stack and placing them on the shelf. You understand absolutely everything we’re saying right now, which is kind of a marvel.

Exactly two years ago (well, two years ago from the 14th), we found out we were expecting you. Now you’re here, and how!

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