Dear Baby Ike,
This month you had your second half-birthday. Eighteen months! This holiday season has been quite a whirlwind, and you have reached such a fun stage in your development. I apparently didn’t use much of my vacation time all year, so I ended up being done with work for the year a week and a half before Christmas; having all these days to spend with you has been ridiculously fun thanks especially to the explosion in your speech. So many new words, many of them quite hilarious (to me, anyway).
To back up, we traveled to your paternal grandparents’ home in Alabama for Thanskgiving last month. This was your second trip down there, but this time we drove during the daytime instead of overnight. I was skeptical that you’d be able to handle that much time restrained in your car seat, as you are normally very busybusybusyalldaylong exploring and playing and being generally on the move, but you actually did great. We only stopped a few times each way, and you were fairly content to babble to your stuffed buddies or snooze or whatever you were doing back there for such long stretches of time. I was amazed (and grateful). Your grandparents of course had a ball playing with you and letting you show off all your new words and skills.
Christmas was, well, everything a toddler could want, I think. You love the trees, pointing them out to me each morning anew and waiting for them to be lit up. Only a couple of ornaments have been obliterated, one of which appeared to have been gifted to the dog (I’m sure he thanks you). We didn’t go see Santa this year. I couldn’t bear the idea of paying money to subject you to an almost certainly upsetting stranger-hairy-dude’s-lap situation for a photo op. You are fairly adept at opening presents, though, so perhaps next year you’ll be game. I don’t plan to push it; we’ll just have to see what you think at the time. Your favorite gifts have probably been the various basketballs, baseballs, footballs, etc. Every time you come across one (we really need to sort through and weed out our toy collection!) you exclaim BAW!! as if it’s the first time you every saw it. If it’s a basketball you pick it up and request a lift to the ‘hoop,’ which we try to oblige whenever possible.
I had been trying to keep a list of particularly amusing words as you started using them, but I’m sure this will be woefully incomplete, as your language has taken off at lightning speed. Most start off as a bit of a puzzle, of course, until I hear them a few times at least in the right context, at which point I usually catch on. Like BECK-OHH. That one stumped me for a bit; at first I thought you’d picked a favorite piece of heavy equipment from one of your books at my parents’ house, but then you said it as we were getting ready to drive home, and it dawned on me: ohhhh, BUCKLE, not backhoe. Yes, we have to buckle up! Before we can drive HOOOMMME. You always say, ‘Home, Mama.’ Yes, drive home with Mama. So it goes like that. You say something a couple of times, I scratch my head and ask what that means, I eventually get it, and then we add to the conversations we’re now able to have. I love both being able to understand you and how you relish being understood.
The Sesame Street obsession is in full swing. Your favorites seem to be Bert and Ernie, plus Elmo and now Murray. At the end of every episode when he reviews the letter and number of the day, you are usually jumping the gun to beat him to saying PEACE! We are working on the accompanying hand gesture, but I admit that I find it a little too charming for your own good. Too often I let it convince me to allow one more episode, especially since you now can ask so politely, tacking ‘please’ (peathe) on to your request for ‘more’ (mow). Huzzah, we have rudimentary manners! Including ‘thank you,’ though it sounds like little more than ‘tee too’ at this point. Context means a lot right now, certainly. I even got a ‘sorry’ (sowwy) after you chucked your Bert and Ernie figures at the floor instead of putting them back on the coffee table as requested. You gave Bert a smooch and apologized to him. I died. Anyway, yes, Sesame Street is your thing right now, and I admit to loving it, too. You get super excited for Abby Cadabby (Abby-da), Oscar (Otter), Big Bird (Bird), and Mr. Noodle (Doo). I get super excited to see you so excited. And so chatty.
Let’s see…what else do you like to talk about these days? You’re quite good at identifying many body parts (eyes, ears, nose, mouth, cheeks, chin, head, hair, knee, feet/tootsies, toes/piggies), my favorite of which right now has to be elbow (EHW-BOWWW). I’m not even sure where you picked that one up, other than perhaps me lamenting that you have peanut butter or applesauce or yogurt or some unholy mixture of two or more all over them after a high chair session. In addition you enjoy identifying the dogs’ tails and paws. Also…animal noises! You know the doggie (BOW WOW WOW), kitty cat (meeowww), sheep and goat (baaa), horse (neeeiiighh), donkey (eee-awww), cow (merrrr/mooo), etc., etc., etc. It blows my mind daily how much you now know and can communicate. Even a few non-concrete concepts, like empty (eee-pee-tee) are popping up. I may be easily impressed at this point, but I am impressed nonetheless. Some of it is so silly, like how you call milk ‘moo juice’ (thanks to Grandma for that one). When I say that it’s cold outside, you say ‘brrrrr,’ and you know that if we go outside you have to wear a hoodie (perfect prononciation on that one – hoo-dee – ridiculously cute). I would swear that today you were telling me I was boring (burring?), but hopefully that will turn out to have a better translation soon! Maybe even tomorrow (mowwow), in the morning (mooorning), when you wake up ‘HAPPY!’
Food continues to be fun. You name almost everything you eat anymore, and haven’t gotten too picky yet. Weirdly I can hear a difference between the word berry when you use it for blueberries (buwwy) and strawberries (bawwy), which reminds me – you can pretty much recite The Very Hungry Caterpillar: all the fruits, most of the Saturday foods, including pickle as of today, and you seemingly randomly interject POP! (out of the egg came a tiny and very hungry caterpillar) on most pages. Where was I? Oh yes, food. Thanksgiving proved you love turkey, though strangely you do NOT like mashed potatoes. No tragedy; perhaps you just need to learn more about gravy first. You like all kinds of pasta (pat-a, or as Grandma calls them, ‘ronis), every fruit we’ve tried (we should plant an apple tree, you run to the fridge screaming for apples at least five times a day), and more vegetables than I’d hoped, including sweet bell peppers of late. When a blob of applesauce hits the high chair tray rather than your mouth, we say SPLAT (bat) and you giggle because what’s more fun than making a mess? Maybe only feeding the dog (ugh, we are working on that). When you’re done you rip off your bib (beeb). Well, if I’m lucky you wait until you’re done, toss your leftovers to the dog, and start chanting NONONONONOOOO, DOGGIE. Mixed messages, much.
You’ve started recognizing some letters, some colors (orange, in particular), and several shapes, which we practice while we crayon scribble. It’s surely only exactly age appropriate, but it still freaks me out a little. You are getting so big, so fast, something I ask you to explain every time I pick you up (how did you GET so big??). Before long you’re going to be reading to me instead of the other way around. You started saying your own name in the past couple of weeks (EYE-DAC/EYYYDE), along with all the other things I meant to remember. You LOVE taking a bath, and demand bubbles every time you see running water. Brushing your teeth is still a struggle, but your Uncle Jim built you a learning tower for Christmas, which has helped a lot already – we still have to finish and paint it but are already using it in the bathroom in the meantime, and you love it, and ask for LEARNING! every time you pass the bathroom. Sometimes you just chant Mommy, mommy, mommy, and I can’t help but tell you yet again, Yes, I am your mommy. I LOVE being your mommy.