Your turning 17 months old means one thing to me: in 1 month you'll be old enough to go to nursery during church. Wandering around with you in the halls for three hours while you ransack other people's diaper bags and tear the fake grass out of potted plants is great and all, but I think it will be nice to put you into a soundproof room with four walls, other small children, and lots of supervision-- and just walk away. (I think you'll enjoy being there too, actually, but that's not what's important here.)
Words you now say on a regular basis include: "Uh-oh" (usually before you intentionally throw something off your food tray or down the stairs), "No" (pronounced "oh" and said in a very forlorn tone), "Ow" (generally accompanied by hair-pulling), and "Meow" (upon seeing a cat, of course). You have also said "shoes" on a couple of occasions and your Uncle Sue swears that you recently whispered "horse." Also, it would seem that you frequently up and out with an "Oh shit," but I'm pretty sure that you're saying something else, like, "What's this?" and it's just coming out all wrong.
Earlier this month you and I walked to a park and you pushed your umbrella stroller around in the grass like it was a plow and you a little plowboy. Then we went down the spiral slide together, you giggling every time, until my calves couldn't stand the thought of climbing to the top again. Instead I talked you into playing in the playground's wood chips, an activity that amused us together for quite a while. Later we drove to Auntie Collette's house, where you were passed from child to child while we sat around a campfire and roasted weenies.
You are the family darling, and generally loved and adored by all. Your Grandma Hanson, for example, insists on referring to you as her baby, and when you spend time together, she'll periodically burst out with, "I love Sorenelli! I love Sorenelli!" Grandpa Hanson is always happy to take you outside or roughhouse with you on the carpet. Auntie Collette calls you "Little Nephew," and practically begs me to let her babysit you. When we visited Yellowstone National Park this week with the Smiths, Little Marty insisted on riding in our car so that you could play with the K'Nex airplane he had made that morning. Tessa also had to take a turn riding with you. Calysta pushed your stroller along the boardwalks. And when the kids made a teeter-totter out of a felled tree, Arielle pulled you onto it and helped you ride. It was quite a sight: five kids on one side, Big Marty on the other.
Even Auntie Loriann and Uncle Sue, neither of whom would consider themselves big "kid people," and who do not take to just any old child, delight in your presence.
Today, however, you had a sad initiation experience into the Real World. Your dad took you to the park and-- because school is out now--it was full of other children. He sat down on a bench and let you wander off on your own. Pretty soon you were approached by a sour-looking little boy of about 5, who leaned down and pointed his fingers in your face menacingly. You stared at him blankly, then turned around and toddled off. The mean little boy then proceeded to shout at and kick you. At this point, your dad intervened, yelled at the kid to back off, and scooped you up into the safety of his arms. Your were shocked and saddened but recovered quickly, as you always do. I think I cried more about the incident than you did. At first I contemplated hunting down that kid and kicking his butt, but then I realized that a kid like that doesn't come from nowhere. I imagined his big brother or dad kicking or hitting him for no apparent reason. And I felt worse for him than I did for you. You had a pair of strong arms to protect and comfort you; what did that little boy have? So tonight when we helped you say your bedtime prayer, we asked that the mean little boy from the park feel loved and safe.
I frequently make lists of things that I hope to instill in you as you slowly grow into manhood. They vary, but a few things stay the same. I hope that I give you a sense that you are loved and lovable. I hope that I help you develop a sense of competence and courage. I hope that you learn to be compassionate, kind, respectful, and reverent towards every living being you encounter. I hope that you become self-disciplined and self-controlled, that you won't let what you want now keep you from what you want most. I hope that you develop the capability of thinking for yourself; I particularly hope that you will be able to think through the consequences of your actions. I hope that you will enjoy life and be happy.
Anyway, sweetie, I love you. I'm so glad we've got to spend another month of life together. You are my sunshine.