Love of my life,
Today you are 16 months old. 16 months young. 16 months. And I hardly know where to begin.
All of the sudden you are showing us these bigger manifestations of your personality and your preferences and choices. Sure, sometimes the manifestations are in total meltdowns but, so far they still awe me. I know a day will come where tantrums, protestations, the repetitive nonononononononono of a child will make me want to weep in a corner with a box of wine. No wait, vodka. It gets into the bloodstream faster.
But for now, and I am amazed even by my own self, I am a force of calm around you. Every moment I am discovering who you are as my little boy, I am discovering who I am as your mom.
I know it shouldn’t absolutely rapturously delight me, but you have been doing this thing where you sternly tell me off, or Melissa at nursery, and I cannot help but secretly love it. You scrunch your face into serious disapproval and then rigidly pump your pointer finger up and down in a jerky motion and engage in this pursed-lips lecture that, without command of pretty much any English word, sounds like “Derderderderderderderderderder. Der. Der. DERDER.” It sort of comes out as a staccato growl. I can practically translate each individual Der as inevitably you tell me off right after I have motioned that you cannot suck on the computer wire or I am trying to give you another spoonful from a jar of Scrummy Tuna Penne. Seriously. That’s the baby food in this country.
But yeah, your acting out is still cute. I can’t help it. Even though now you hate having your diaper/nappy changed and manage to flip your body multiple times and climb the couch in the time that it takes me to reach a wipe. Before I gave birth, multiple people sent me an email forward about what having a child is like. The part I remember is getting a toddler dressed was likened to dressing an octopus. I can imagine. Albeit less slimy. Better smelling. Angrier though. I suppose from the vantage point of your 16 months, you might think the world has conspired to destroy you via narrow shirt neck openings pulled over the head.
We are still honing our love of animals and appreciation for what they do for us. You actually put up with my unintentional vegetarian tendencies and seriously, lately you have been liking tofu cubes more consistently than almost anything else I give you to eat. You’re also becoming more and more aware of and delighted by animals. We took you to the zoo and you pointed at everything with mouth agape. Trish brought a Maltese dog over to the flat one night, Coco, and you had us rolling on the floor between laughing and loving you with your reactions. You would squeal and lunge for Coco like you wanted to bear hug her and then the second your rapidly projectiling body was within millimeters of Coco’s wet dog noise, you smashed your eyes closed in a terrified long blink and recoiled. Repeat. Repeat. Lunge, shriek, close eyes, recoil, lunge. It was the Jonah Show.
Daddy and I feel like these past few weeks we have been witnessing your 11th hour before walking. You pull yourself up onto everything, cruise everywhere, stand, and practically run across a room when aided by the trusty blue Ikea walker (Jonah, this family supports Ikea, ok? Swedish people are good. You’re welcome for that lesson.). They just told me at nursery that I have to finally start putting shoes on you. I know this will sound funny to most parents of 16 month olds but shoes have not really been in our repertoire. I tried to squish your fat rolled hooves into 6 month old slippers the other day. Modern-day foot binding accidentally.
Nursery has been really nice in many respects. Those girls LOVE you. I am convinced you are the favorite. They tell me moony-eyed in the evenings how much they all are in love with you. And I love them in the way they are with children. The girls in the Baby Room don’t fake it. They love what they do. They wore pajamas one day last week for charity and all the kiddies got to also. Do you know what 20 babies and toddlers look like in jammies? Heaven. The girls report to parents each night on bottles of milk and poos and sleeps and slides and dancing and water play with wide eyes and energetic tones as though it all really matters. And it does. It totally matters and I am grateful you’re in their hands when you’re not in mine.
When we first looked at that nursery I was very hesitant, especially because the nursery is lined in frosted glass panels with cut outs of clear glass so that all passerby can see inside if they want. I asked myself then: what on earth would compel a nursery design to allow anyone to peek inside? But here is the thing… every single evening of every one of my working days, I rush by those windows and then stop and search for you. I scan the room with my mum-honing device. And then I spot you – all tow-headed and angel-faced engaged in the middle of some very important moment of play and it hits me that I am very lucky to catch those glimpses. To see who and what you are when you don’t know I am around. And I see that you are still fantastic. Still perfect. Still lighting up a room. And then sometimes, against my better judgment, I wave until you see me. And you beam. And then, always, in the 5 minutes it takes for me to actually walk in the building and unfold your stroller and enter the room you’re in, you have been reduced to frantic tears. Mommies shouldn’t pop up in windows and then disappear. I’ll work on that.
And sometimes, when Daddy is off on some around-the-world jaunt or is so busy selling to the world that he has an early morning meeting, I walk you to nursery. And now it unfolds in the reverse. After I say my good-byes and begin my rush to work, I stop short at those windows and peer inside. I am positive about one thing: if more people could see what it looks like when twenty 1 year-olds are gathered silently around two mini-semi circular tables sitting their little tushes in their mini little chairs while both chubby little hands clutch a piece of toast with all the energy in their whole beings expressed in their serious, quiet, concentrating faces, there would be no war. It’s true. It is a work of art what I get to see. It’s pure and it’s good.
Jonah, you love pointing. And you happen to possess my favorite pointer finger of all time. You hum when you wake up in the morning. You dance whenever you hear music. Even my sorry attempts at singing move your hips. You love my hairdryer and when one of us is showering, you lean your head and shoulders into the water while fully clothed.
A few weeks ago you and I were walking home from nursery as we always do. Off the busy road, onto a busy road that is slightly less busy. The rush hour masses move past us in every direction. People on bikes and in cars and taxis and bus riders and walkers and people trying to make decisions about where to go and where to eat and everyone in their suits and all the people gathered outside the pubs. In any season. And the days have gotten a little shorter for light and there is scaffolding that has creeped up our building facade. And on this particular night we had just rounded the high street in front of our local and it hit me out of the clear blue: I miss seeing your face as we do our little evening walk together – ever since we turned your stroller seat to be forward-facing. And I didn’t have this thought with despair or with anger at the march of time and growing up. I had it as a peaceful and happy melancholy. That all your newfound joys will probably always come at the loss of something else. As life demands. I didn’t think this thought for more than 10 seconds when I decided to just peek around the stroller and smile at you. And my son, you did the darndest thing. You reached out for my 34-year old hand with your chubby little flawless hand and you held on. And you wouldn’t let it go. You weren’t sad or mad or needed to be picked up. You just wanted to hold my hand. You were smiling and we walked the rest of the way on our journey home quietly with me walking alongside the stroller, contorting one arm behind it so I could push and steer over curbs and around corners while the other hand rested firmly clasped by yours. Three of the best minutes of my life.