My Sweet Little Boy,
You are now 18 months old. Eighteen months! All at once eighteen months seems enormously long (weren't you born just yesterday?) and tremendously short (could I ever have not known and loved you?)
Last month I wrote about how excited I was about taking you to nursery. I was so excited, in fact, that early in the month, after a particularly trying sacrament meeting, I cornered the Primary president and held you toward her. "He's seventeen and a half months old!" I begged. Without hesitation she jerked her thumb over her shoulder, toward the nursery door. "Send 'im in!" After curtsying gratefully, I took you to the nursery, told them your name, and left you happily digging through the toy closet, throwing balls and trucks and dolls over your shoulders. "Bye honey!" I said. You didn't even look up.
It seems that every newsletter needs to include a park story. This is not intentional; it's just that I take you to the park several times a week. It seems like a good way to pass the time and it gives us both some much-needed sunshine and exercise. But my park story this month isn't really a story at all; it's just a moment that my mommy heart's internal camera captured, and wants to relate to you. We were at Goodsell Elementary, climbing around on the playground toys (incidentally the very same playground toys I played on when I was a student there), and I sat down on a swing while you ran off to play. Looking out across the paved portion of the playground, I reflected on those years of running across that blacktop-- the skinned knees, the double-dutch jump rope contests, the games of kiss tag, the huddles of half-frozen children, the alliances formed, the enemies established--when I looked up and saw you. There you were, running in your bumpy toddler way across the blacktop yourself, swinging your arms up to clap in the front, and then in back, a little rooster tail of soft hair poking up on the back of your head. You looked so little. And so grown-up. And so vulnerable. And so brave.
This past month you've discovered your mother's Achilles' Heel. You've found that if she's busy and you want attention, whining at her legs might gain you a sympathetic look and a pat on the head--but holding a book and whining at her legs will cause her to involuntary stop whatever she's doing, sit down, cuddle you in her lap, and read to you. You've also noticed know that you can push back your bedtime by a good fifteen minutes by begging for more stories.
Also, it turns out that I've been letting my politics infiltrate my parenting style. I discovered this one evening when Uncle Sue brought a politically active friend, Nathan, to documentary night. At some point during the dinner-making process, you got whiny, so I put you in your high chair and handed you some graham crackers, then turning my attention to other matters. Auntie Loriann, however, was watching you quite closely. "He's eating those crackers all wrong!" she exclaimed. "Look at him! He's shoving them all into his mouth! He just wedged one in sideways! Somebody needs to stop him!" I glanced over, saw that you were still breathing, and said, "He'll gag if the crackers get pushed back too far. He's fine." Nathan immediately pointed at Loriann and declared, "Liberal," then at me and assessed, "Libertarian." And he was dead right.
On that same evening, surrounded by a group of adults all terrified that you might touch the oven, you learned one of your now-favorite words: "Hot." It being summertime, this is a word you use a great deal. "Hot," you'll say when you step outside onto the balcony. "Hot," you'll repeat when you take another step. That puts your daily vocabulary up to: "Yes," "No," "Don't," "Meow," "Hot, and "Shoes." There are other words you might be saying (including the perennial "shit"), but we're not sure that you mean them yet. And I promise you didn't hear the s-word from me. Honest.
Your life's greatest comfort right now is hair. When you get tired or sad, you stroke the hair on the back of your head. If I'm holding you and you feel uncomfortable, you stroke my hair. You stroke Grandma's hair, you stroke Daddy's hair, you stroke Grandma's kitty's hair. The Relief Society president held you at church a couple weeks ago, and you stroked her hair. I'm really a short-haired person, but I have to keep my hair long because you love it so much.
The following is an excerpt from a note I left for your dad the other evening:
"Soren was so darling this afternoon. He slept until 3:30. When he awoke, my visiting teacher was here with her two children. Soren ignored Sydney, who's a year older than him, but was fascinated by Corbin, aged 7 months, who has a gigantic head and enormous blue eyes just like Soren's. At one point Corbin, who was lying on his belly on the floor, started to cry. Soren walked over, laid on the floor next to him, and smiled into his face. He also stroked his hair very gently. Then he tried to sit on Corbin's head. All of this--except for the head-sitting--served to lift Corbin's spirits. I was proud of Soren for responding to Corbin with (what at least looked like) compassion."
Speaking of your dad, I hope you know how much he, too, loves you. On Wednesday this week, the day that work takes him away from 8 in the morning until 11 at night, he commented to me over the telephone how much he was missing his "little toad." Later that night you woke up and I went into your room to comfort you. Your daddy, however, followed me in, hoping for a chance to cuddle you. He cuddled you in his arms and rocked you back to sleep.