Dear Baby Ike,
this last week you are 21 months old, and hurtling headfirst toward your third year. I’m not sure you completely grasp the concept of a birthday, but we do often have a little rote-memorization conversation geared around it:
“How old will you be on your next birthday?”
“Right. And how old are you now?”
“None.” [holds up one finger]
“Yes, one year old. What happens on a birthday?”
So we’re definitely looking forward to that.
I rarely capture a decent photo or video of you when you are anywhere but trapped in your highchair these days, so I try to get at least one video every weekend. The rate of language acquisition for this stage is still a bit mind-blowing to me. You can name all the letters of the alphabet, can count to ten (and then to twenty, sort of – you’re clearly a bigger fan of some numbers than others), name almost all of the shapes in your shape-sorter toy, and are much more confident about identifying colors than even a month ago. It’s crazy to me. I don’t know why, but every time you display a new bit of knowledge, I’m all, WHAT IS THIS TODDLER SORCERY?!?
A few weekends ago it was actually warm enough to play out in the backyard for more than a few minutes, and as you ran around throwing a tennis ball for the dog, offering him sticks, and sniffing/hand-mulching last summer’s dead black-eyed Susans, you started chanting “GOOD ENOUGH.” For several minutes I wondered how I’d already set the bar so low…then I also heard a refrain of COOKIE, COOKIE, COOKIE and was thankful you were only quoting that particular monster’s most famous song. Phew.
Your assertion of independence is showing up right on schedule. Every task or activity is a split between HELP ME (still sounds more like HOLD ME at this point, but I definitely know better) and NO! IKE DO IT! Your love of books continues unabated, and your affection for Sesame Street has morphed mostly into a constant begging for TEEVEE ON so you can watch the ‘songs.’ One awful-weather weekend of this never-ending winter I made the (genius?) mistake of searching for Sesame Street songs on the You.Tube app on the X.BOX rather than just pulling up full episodes on Net.flix. There have been more cold, gross weekend days this winter than I would like to admit during which we went through the loop of these favorites more times than we should have:
But it’s hard to have many regrets about it yet. When TEEVEE ON is not an option (which is way more often than you’d prefer – screen time what?), you’ll quickly resort to requesting MOMMY SING, and hahahaaaaaaa mommy is no vocalist, but you still get a kick out of my Bruno Mars or Elvis Costello. I’m particularly proud of my Usher, frankly. We’ve also watched some of the new Cosmos series with you – while it’s not entirely age-appropriate, it’s definitely Mama-approved TEEVEE. I think you’ve picked up on that, because when we won’t let you have YYYOOOO-TOOOB, you’ll inquire about second-best NEIL? It’s hard for me not to give in to that!
Lately you also love asking for TUMMY (tickles) and CHASE IKE and most recently ZERBITS (belly raspberries). Sometimes a combination of the three is the only way to get a clean diaper on your butt. We recently introduced potty chairs, but you rarely have any interest other than disassembling them or perhaps sitting on them fully clothed. You’re much more interested in the BIG POTTY (until you slam the seat or lid down on your own fingers, of course – that seems to be a lesson you need to learn the hard way more than once, somehow). We’re in no hurry yet, but I remain hopeful that some extended naked time this summer will change your mind about the whole deal – probably famous last words on my part, but we shall see.
Some of the things I end up putting in these letters are more to remind myself, years from now when I can’t believe I’ve forgotten when you first did this or that or stopped doing the other thing, than things you’ll probably ever care about: you still nurse here and there, pretty much only before sleep, on evenings when I am home for bedtime and/or weekend naps. Your separation anxiety seems to come and go and take on different forms these days. This past weekend I spent Saturday night out of town, and your father reported that you were pretty pissed I wasn’t there on Sunday morning, even asking him to NURSE (just wouldn’t have been the same, I know, but I applaud your sense of egalitarianism, young man). If you wake up in the middle of the night, which isn’t often anymore, you’ll usually ask for CUDDLE these days rather than to nurse. So while I don’t have any particular cutoff point of weaning in mind (yet), I think we may be nearing the end, an idea which is bittersweet for me. I never thought we’d go much past a year, but there doesn’t seem to be any pressing reason to wean, either (I quit pumping at work around 16 months). I’ve been making a fairly conscious effort to give you plenty of Daddy-time lately (to not gatekeep, since there has never been any need nor any benefit – though I’ve seen lots of families do that, I didn’t always have a name for it), since when we are both home he sort of gets the cold shoulder from you at times, me being the “anchor parent” for now. I think it’s helping, though it may just that we’re nearing the end of the phase, or at least the worst of it – you spend Wednesdays with him rather than with Grandma now, and this morning when I left for work there were no tears, just kisses. But you do still have a canine-like dislike of ‘strangers’ on your home turf(s). When an appraiser came to Grandma’s house one day, you were terrified, and when a friend of your father’s stopped by this weekend while I was gone, the same reaction. FREAKED OUT. But you love to go out and see other PEOPLE! And CHILDREN! If we had
more any money to spare I’d start you in preschool now, but sadly it’s going to have to wait a bit. I recently found out that a local children’s museum also operates a preschool, and can’t quite stop lusting after the idea, despite the tuition being RIDICULOUS not exactly affordable for us. It would be SO COOL to send you there, even for a short period of time. Right now it doesn’t seem possible, but…a few years ago, neither did YOU, and that worked out pretty well, didn’t it? (YES, YES IT DID.)