Dear Baby A,
At this moment, you are strolling through the house holding a cordless phone backwards to your ear, and I can only assume it’s me you are imitating when you say in a soft voice “heeey” and then chuckle under your breath before you start to babble into the phone. A few minutes ago, while you were holding it the phone started to ring, so I walked toward you and asked you to hand it to me. Off you ran to your sister’s room, where once you were backed against the wall you threw the phone at me.
And so the last month has been filled with snapshots of what you will become. I blink, and you’ve learned how to work the gate latches that serve as doorknobs in this house. I turn my head, and when I look back at you, you’ve mastered the on/off switch on the television. There are kisses being blown left and right, and when you hear Leapfrog Lily say “hug me again!” you bring her to your chest and plant a big kiss on her head.
You can say “shhhhooe!” and “Thank you” and “MOM!” and “da-DA” and recently you added “nooooo” to your vocabulary. The answer to every question is “nooo” which you bleat out in a singsong voice because that’s the way your Dad reprimands you- softly, a gentle “Avery, nooooo” that makes a southern woman proud, as it ALMOST hits the 2 syllable mark. Now, I say the answer to every question, but of course I don’t mean that. If the word “Grandpa” is anywhere in the query, you almost give yourself a seizure shaking your head “YES!” and if he’s not here when we’re having this conversation, you immediately run to the window or the door and try to get out. I would be more depressed about your apparent lack of enthusiasm for being with us, except that my dad tells me that when you’re tired of hanging around over there, you go to the door and start blowing kisses at everyone.
Because we’re trendy like that, and because I bartered with the Kindermusik teacher, I signed us up for a sign language Kindermusik class. I totally dressed you to the nines when we went the first time because I just knew we’d be in class with a bunch of kids from the Other Side of the Tracks and their nannies, but as it turns out all the women there were parents, and the class was really fun with minimal comparison. Although there was a little girl there your age with pierced ears. Ouch! I promise I won’t allow holes anywhere in your body until you are old enough to ask.
Christmas with you was, as advertised, incredible. Your amiability and grace thorough countless dinners, brunches, present-opening sessions, and various disruptions to your routine delighted us, and everyone who visited. Having your dad home was fun for me, in that I was able to sleep late a lot and change very few dirty diapers-but for you the disruption of our day-to-day routine was harder, and you handled it beautifully. You suffered through three different Holiday outfits (with tights!) and several close-calls with various holiday germ-fests.
Speaking of germ-fests, we recently had to take the car to be serviced in Jacksonville. You and I were sent to the Mall to kill some time, where I promptly plucked down 4 bucks to rent a racecar stroller (AP all you want, my back is not all about carrying a 17 month old thorough the mall) which you loooved. There’s a play area at this mall, where parents can corral their children inside a little fence with other children in order to burn off some kid steam. You don’t interact with other kids much since you’re not in day care and we never leave the house, but you really took control of that situation! When the little boy walked up and pushed you, I saw you look around for a minute and then give him a laser look of death like “you pitiful little man, I must leave your presence before your insecurity rubs off on me” and then turn and quietly walk away. I was so proud of you at that moment, and for several moments after that, while I watched you try to share your milk with a few kids, and play chase with a few more. This twilight zone of parenting bliss was cut short when you took off thorough the doorway of the play area (why the hell isn’t there a gate on that thing?) and then, when you saw me walking after you, proceeded to SPRINT down the mall away from me.
It’s your father’s fault. To be fair, how was he to know that you’d want to play the chase game in parking lots and malls and fast food restaurants? You do, though, and you get a real kick out of running away from us, turning every once in a while to snicker as if we’ll NEVER catch up with you.
That day will come soon enough, whether you’re running from us on the back of a motorcycle or on a plane or behind the wheel of your first car…one day we will just have to watch you go, and hope that you stay safe. For now, I can catch up with you in three long strides and scoop you under my arm like a football. For now, I can keep you safe. I’ll always be your safe place, BabyA. Remember that you can always come home, and that we will always love you.