You turned 17 months this past Saturday and this post being more than a little overdue says less about my level of excitement at your newest milestone (I am VERY excited) and more about the state of affairs around these parts – parts being the working mum and the tired mum and the very messy flat. The flat has been so messy, in fact, that just the other day Daddy and I were convinced we had lost your shoe to the great big, bad world outside and we were lamenting that we would have to spend another arm and leg on a new one, when just this morning, lo and behold, I found it under a pile of dirty clothes. Daddy calls all my piles of dirty clothes The Clothes Monster. And now that the beast has such an affectionate name, I have come to think of him as family and am reluctant to put him away. And that is a lesson in: backfiring.
So shoes. You got your very first pair of big boy shoes. Nursery had been telling me for some time that you needed a pair, that it would help you be comfortable learning to walk. I was skeptical because of all those tribal babies that walk just fine barefoot. But in the cold of Central London this time of year, I gave in and you and I had a little date at Clark’s. I didn’t know that for baby feet you also have to measure the top. But it makes sense with all that extra chubbiness there. You wanted so badly to play with the foot measuring contraption and I was laughing and we were probably misbehaving a little bit, the two of us. But ultimately you got a beautiful pair of brown and blue shoes out of the experience and you proudly cruise around in them every day. Those little big boy shoes always sit on the floor in the living room long after you have gone to bed for the night. And I catch glimpses of them at the most unexpected moments and they make my heart swoon from here to the moon. And back.
I think you’re an awesome cruiser / aided-walker. You are so fast holding my hands, you basically lead me. Daddy and I finally did that thing this month where we each held one of your hands and then we walked all three in a row. Like a storybook. Like a movie. Like a dream. I know you will get the confidence to walk on your own soon enough. But you know I’m not rushing you. There are moments when it’s hard to carry 30+ pounds around but how can I trade anything for hand-holding with my buddy.
You still don’t see any need to say very many English words at all. I have gone back and forth on how this makes me feel. At first I was momentarily seized with panic when the Pediatrician insisted on a hearing test and OT. And I knew that was all a crock because it’s pretty obvious how good your hearing is (you start dancing even when the phone rings) and kids starting speaking at all different ages. But I played along and tried very hard to teach you CAT, Jonah CAT. Look at the nice CAT. It goes MEOW. CAT CAT CAT. And then 5 seconds later I was bored and we were playing with wooden kitchen spoons and I realized I would make a totally rubbish teacher. Note to self: no home schooling. And besides, I know you understand every word we say to you. In the mornings, you hand me each specified stuffed animal from your crib as I ask for them by name. When I say Where’s Daddy? you turn and look at the front door. Jonah, people like to worry about things. But we don’t have to if we don’t want to.
You babble and string sentences together incessantly. They are highly developed and elaborate and sometimes I wonder if you’re not overstating your point. When you see me pulling your milk out of the refrigerator, you have so many comments on the matter I say to you, “Oh, you want this milk? Keep it simple, son.” But then, look at your model.
You can imitate a monkey and you have used your monkey sounds and applied them to many other animals. So that a pig and a cow also now go oo oo ee ee ah ah. You love imitating the things people do- with their faces especially. You once entertained a Russian family at the table next to us in a restaurant for the entire meal by nodding your head every time they nodded theirs. You say “whoaaaaa” for everything and get huge saucer-eyes and an astounded expression. Sometimes the Whoas fit the scene like when you spy a colorful balloon or a dog comes and licks your hand. Other times, you will Whoaaaaaa something as mundane as a cracker. But that cracker isn’t really mundane, is it? Your whole world is mesmerizing and I fall in love with it again every day just trying to see it the way you do.
You have your moments though where things are no longer astounding and delighting you. Those are happening more and more because: you’re a toddler (and I was warned). You can change on a dime and I am not good yet at always knowing what triggered you. But usually there is some hint of fatigue and then I will commit some other transgression (eg wipe your nose) and off you go- red face, no decibel zone pause before the cry or you just give me or someone else a death stare while you hit. The way you hit is so cute and I know I am not supposed to think that, but you have to imagine it from my perspective. Your hand is the size of a puppy paw and your fingers are teeny tiny and your fingernails are miniscule. Your arms are perfectly flawless and smooth and covered on every inch with layers upon layers of baby fat. Fat that is so enthusiastic to be there, it is still pushing right up against the wrist trying to get let in to the hand. And there it is: The chubby miniature arm waving back and forth with chubby-doll-like hand with fingers splayed, trying to teach me a lesson about when not to try to change your diaper.
You are fearless and while I hate gender stereotypes, I can’t help but think every day how much of a boy you are. You climb up the kitchen stepladder and contort your body and reach for things on the counter. You try to stick your whole body into the washing machine or the dishwasher and when I am taking a shower, you stand so close to it that you basically take one too. I should add that this is a European thing. In America people use shower curtains and water is relegated to the tub only. But that’s not how we do things in this country. Water from the shower is free to roam. And you like it spraying on you too.
I have been very pleased to see what you designate for weeks on end as your favorite toy. Forever it was a pink plastic beach shovel that your Poppy gave you in Florida and probably cost about 20 cents. It was far and away the best thing you could ever think of to be holding. And when it met its untimely demise in a crazy, overcrowded department store, you didn’t so much as raise an eyebrow and seamlessly switched to one of the wooden mixing spoons from the kitchen.
One of my favorite things we do together is cook in the kitchen. This is how I know how much you love wooden spoons. Sometimes I sit on the floor with a bowl of something and you help me stir. Usually it’s some kind of cake or cookie batter and then you keep taking bites and I let you because kids should eat batter out of bowls. I just hope the whole raw egg thing won’t be a problem. I like you as a sous chef and need you in full health. And as always, you don’t just enjoy helping me make food- you really enjoy eating it too. You still, fingers crossed, eat almost anything. And Jonah, I am very impressed with your dexterity with the spoon and fork. I am saying that in all seriousness. I mean, I don’t really know milestones but I think you might be a cutlery savant. You like to have one in each hand so usually I have to bring three to each meal. One for your left hand. One for your right hand. And one for me to sometimes help get errant food items back in your mouth. There’s a lot of utensils. Next month we might move on to the butter knife and oyster fork. The Prince is engaged to be married and as British residents we should probably brush up on our table manners.
You build the most impressive towers of blocks I have ever seen and you are incredibly proud of each and every one before you give the tower the backhand it so deserves for not falling on command. You shake and dance at the slightest hint of music- on a toy, on the tv, your mama warbling something or when Daddy and I belt out showtunes when you’re crying. I think the sheer cacophony of it surprised you enough that one day in the bath so that you forgot that you were in a bad mood. I know, our duets are a showstopper. Lately, it even seems like you sing yourself. I catch you doing it and you hum a lot too. Especially when you’re sleepy.
I’ve been surprised that you finally seem to have a little separation anxiety. I thought that was impossible for you, the king of all social situations. But lately more and more you want one of us over anyone else. It will be short-lived, and I hate to see you sad. But there is ego in it my son and I hope I can always be the one to make you safe some way. And Daddy too. In fact, in the mornings you prefer Daddy much more. I have seen my hair in the mirror and I can’t say I blame you.
Most of all, the thing that has really taken off is your spot-on sense of humor. You are hilarious. Uproarious. Ridiculous. You might now be the funniest person I know. And I am a tough audience. I don’t emit audible laughter very often. But you can somehow get it out of me. Plus I am not biased at all. Just the other day we were having a lazy morning together and you were sitting on our bed playing and I was distracted blow-drying my hair or something. And a few minutes passed and you were being quiet. And I turned and looked at you and you were just sitting on the bed in your pajamas with one of my headband wraps perfectly wrapped around your head. And I busted a gut. And you knew you were being hilarious. And so you started hamming it up, taking the hairband off, lunging at me while laughing and then retracting and putting it on again. All with great dramatic effect. And I was laughing so hard and egging you on and we did that over and over and over. And we were happy.