I’m typing this on your six-month birthday – the last half hour of it to be exact. The flat is perfectly quiet because I am the only night owl who resides here. At night I usually completely waste my time. You would not believe how often I hit the refresh button on Google News Entertainment. It’s like I am convinced that in the last millisecond, a celebrity might have a juicy scandal surface and it would be terrible if I didn’t know until morning.
But on this night I am just pensive. I want to say so much about you being six months old and what you’re like and what it means to me, to all of us. But I really just don’t have a way with words. Oh, there are people who will beg to differ. Kindly people like some of our close family members and a couple of big-hearted fans. You will one day know the type: people who are always positive and supportive and who cheerlead as habit. But the reality is that I write the way I do most things: so-so. And I don’t mind this at all until these moments. These moments when I want so badly to say what I am thinking. I want to be able to type the explosions.
These days you are the closest human being in my whole life. It’s a statement about physicality but it necessarily morphs into emotion. I spend every day with you, most waking moments of those days. To share too much information, I am still breastfeeding and not very good at storing it for later so you and I are pretty well joined. That coupled with the fact that you really like being right around another human means that we spend a lot of time in each other’s very teeny personal space solar systems. Every now and then I stop and remind myself to actually feel what it feels like to be living this. To have this utterly beautiful boy with brown soft-swept hair, heartachingly clear blue eyes smiling at me in that perfectly pure way that only a baby who is all gums can smile. My babies have been my life’s whole lesson on why smiles matter. Why nonprofits are created to give them to children who need them, why some parents of some autistic children mourn their absence. Your smile slays me. As I often say. It means you’re happy and dayenu, Simon. Dayenu. Dayenu dayenu dayenu.
You as six months feels like a turning point, as I knew it would. The day you were born I think I thought ahead to this. Babies live two baby lives. Before six months, and after. I told your Daddy today that this was true and then he needed more clarification as to whether I was insinuating you were toddler-like. Hardly. For starters, you’re still nothing but nice. No, it’s more that you’re a Big Boy Baby now, I said.
You’re eating solids. It always feels so silly to me to call purees solids. But I don’t make the rules. Oh wait, for your purposes I do. Anyway, I should have started you on solid food weeks and weeks and weeks ago. I was lazy because we had so much family visiting over the course of a month and starting solids takes concentration. There’s the healthy buying and the peeling and chopping and steaming and pureeing and storing and freezing and defrosting and checking and nutritional algorithms to consider. Also, it’s messy. I had to rummage around for bibs. Also, what if you didn’t like it? I didn’t want to be in the middle of the Baltics fighting with you over mushed peas.
Well, I was jolted into baby cuisine when a routine check-up before Christmas showed that you had not gained weight in many weeks. Your weight chart from birth was a perfectly consistent curve on the 91st percentile trajectory until all of a sudden you plateaued. I should have known but your mostly happy disposition and very chipmunky cheeks led me astray. So after tests proved everything else was just fine, the doctor looked at me squarely in the eyes and said something to the effect that I was starving you. Simon, I am a food pusher. To be accused of starving someone really hits below the belt. I went into action immediately.
Now just a few weeks later I am amazed at how much you eat. I feel like I am living with a teenager. Even after I have defrosted and fed you what feels like an absurd amount of food for someone who weighs 16 pounds and has a stomach the size of a grape or something, you grab around indiscriminately with wide searching eyes. And I, every single time, frantically seize the nearest blending device and create some kind of make-shift fourth course of your meal. Just tonight I asked your father to hold you at bay while I scrambled an egg and opened an avocado and honestly, it’s ridiculous. How hungry are you?
The additional food has meant you’re sleeping better. Well, not through the night. Because that would be crazy. I am a benevolent dictator and therefore I am giving you until a very generous seven months to still wake at night. That is the line in the sand of my brain. Your brother smartened up at seven months and you will too, if not before. I like to say there is no alternative.
Which is why you, overnight, have turned into a really great and reliable daytime napper. Simon, this feat will go on my headstone one day. Figuratively speaking. Because obviously I want to be cremated and have my ashes spread at several specific meaningful gps coordinates. It will be like a reverse scavenger hunt of ash-spreading. Something to look forward to. Honestly, it’s not right for me to take credit for the nap victory. All babies are different and have minds of their owns. No wait, that’s what people say when a baby does something undesirable. When babies fall in line we take all the credit. And so it is. You finally figured out that it feels good to sleep for several peaceful daytime hours in the solitudinous quiet of your own sweet bedroom. And I 100% am patting myself on the back.
You LOVE being on your tummy. I am still surprised every day by this. I try so hard not to compare your milestones with those of your brother’s but it’s inevitable, isn’t it? And holy shrieking, he did NOT like to be on his tummy. He even found a way to crawl that did not involve crawling. And then here you are every day in our newish flat, absolutely taking advantage of the wall-to-wall carpeting that we so reluctantly signed on for (who has wall-to-wall carpeting?! really!) by loving being on your tummy. You just grab for toys and roll over and look around and drool and repeat.
You blow bubbles into liquid. You coo. Every now and then your hair looks like a crazy Donald Trump toupee. You still go serene when stretched out in the bath. You stare at your brother with total and utter admiration and devotion. You cry harder when you’re tired and you see me but I don’t take it personally. You were wearing the wrong sized diapers for months apparently (oops). You have that hilarious uncontrollable baby giggle when one of us finally amuses you. Your skin is flawless. You like to lay in the orange bean bag chair Daddy took from work. You’re easygoing about me cutting your nails, the nails you inherited directly from what I assume to be 25 generations of people on your dad’s side who had flat nails. You definitely have an ugly cry and I can’t help it, it makes me laugh.
But by a mile my favorite new thing about you is what I call the Mad Grabber. I have never quite seen anything like it. Daddy agrees. It’s like you have Go-Go-Gadget arms every time we’re not looking. I might be holding you while pondering the contents of the fridge and all of a sudden you are lifting the soy sauce out of the side door. Today at brunch with friends you started brandishing a butter knife that I had definitely moved far, far away. You manage, mysteriously, to locate and seize objects that are nowhere near the vicinity of your wingspan. And your Mad Grabbing has only one purpose and one ultimate destination: your mouth.
Now I know that babies put things in their mouths, blah blah blah, that’s what babies do. No, I am telling you: not like this. You are consumed by it. Baby-inappropriate objects are the human blood of your insatiable Go-Go-Grabbing vampire. You cannot be parted from whatever it is. Daddy and I still go through the motions of reading to you before bed, for no other reason than to laugh. You rip the books out of our hands and gnaw on them like I haven’t just made you your third meal of the day involving no less than four distinct and variable courses using no less than 15 total ingredients. You chew on the laptop, on dinner plates, on placemats and menus and noses and socks and your own feet and the day’s mail. You could be working on a future magician’s act, or maybe you’re teething. I don’t know, Simon. But just keep going for yours.
You make me happy when skies are gray.