Holy shit Henry. How has it been 11 months since I’ve written about you, our sweet sweet 17 month old boy? I’ll save most of the cliches to myself, but you’ve heard the one about kids growing up before and it’s not getting any less true. Don’t blink, they said.
So, let’s see… where do I start?
I remember the distinct moment that I felt like my role changed from “keeping you, my sweet baby alive” to “raising an actual human”. You were sitting in your high chair, mostly feeding yourself banana puffs, and you reached your innocent little hand out past the side of your tray, and dropped a puff to our eagerly waiting dog. Cute. Then you did it again.
“What are you supposed to do?” I asked Jesse.
“I think you tell him No.” He replied.
Huh. Our first real life lesson in parenting. It seems like a simple thing, but until it smacked me in the face, I didn’t realize how foreign that little thing would be. All of a sudden, I had to think about how I act and react, and how you’re probably learning a lot from me and your dad and that we’d like for you not to be an asshole someday.
It quickly got easier. Telling you “No” became a natural thing, even though the reactions and emotions we sometimes get from you would indicate that we’re breaking your tiny heart on a daily basis.
The other day, you were heading straight for the un-screened pellet stove with your arm out-stretched. Your Dad and I both saw it at the same time and raised our voices at you with a quick HENRY NO! You took one side step to the nearest piece of furniture, bottom lip quivering, crossed your arms on the chair seat and buried your face as the tears started to roll. It broke our hearts too, so I guess we’re even.
For the longest time, we weren’t sure you were going to crawl. You have always been adorably top heavy (90 something percentile in head circumference, compared to your consistently 10th or less in height and weight). You always hated tummy time. And then one day at 10 and a half months old, you decided you really wanted that empty water bottle that we put just out of your reach, and after whimpering a few times to see if we would get it, you leaned forward off of your butt, and crawled half-bear style on your hands, one knee and one foot to get it.
It wasn’t long before you were up on your feet, pulling yourself up on the coffee table or couch, and then on our legs, grabbing our fingers tight and insisting that we do 9 or 10 laps with you from the kitchen to the front door.
Fast-forward a few months, and you are nearly running around the house, and DOING STUFF.
You mostly keep busy taking things out of things and putting them into other things. Sometimes you’re like a tiny tornado, destroying and scattering everything in your wake. On the other hand, last week you legitimately helped me unload a big bag of food into the refrigerator, picking each item up and handing it to me to put away.
You’ve learned how to pet the dog nicely (rather than pulling fistfulls of hair as hard as you can as she walks by). You wave goodbye and blow kisses to people and animals alike – sometimes on request, sometimes as a delayed response or randomly if you hear someone mention a kiss.
Ever since you turned 1, you’ve developed quite the (inconsistent) opinions on food. One day you’re stuffing all of the torn up pieces of turkey that you can pick up into your mouth at once until you realize that you might have over-done it and you spew half of them back out onto your tray. The next day you take one taste, decide it’s awful and throw it on the floor. For awhile you would judge everything I tried to give you just by staring at it in front of your face with slightly crossed eyes, until you were able to tell that you’d probably rather die than try a bite. You have never, however, met a string cheese you didn’t like.
You’ve also, more recently, made it apparent that you DO in fact understand what we’re saying to you and you are sometimes able to communicate back.
When I ask you if you’re hungry, you nod your head somehow slowly and enthusiastically at the same time, all the way up and then back down. You’ll shake your head “no” wildly if I offer you something that you don’t want.
You learned the sign for “more”, and promptly figured out how to use it in the cutest god-damned way along with a sweet little high pitched “nah?” that I CANNOT RESIST. More M&M’s? Have as many as you would like, sweet child. What else can I get you? Cookies? Money? DAMMIT YOU’RE ADORABLE.
You still won’t call me “mama” and just recently started calling Jesse “da”. You know that a lion says “rawrrrr” and a cow says “bvvoooo”. You say “HI” when your dad comes in from another room, and when we get to daycare to pick you up and you spot us through the vestibule window.
You laugh hysterically before bed, when I lean in with puckered lips, and try to give you a kiss on the mouth. You wake up in the morning and stand up in your crib, pointing at things around the room (your mobile, your Lovey, the dog, the succulents printed on your crib sheet) and telling us about each one.
We’re having a really hard time transitioning from the bottle to a sippy cup (something the Doctor told us we should start way back at your 12 month appointment), and it makes me feel a little bit like a failure. You’ll happily drink water out of your sippys (sippies?) throwing your head back and your arms up on the handles, gulping it down and finishing with an “AHH” to let us know just how refreshing it was. We’ve tried milk out of 3 different kinds of sippies, but 95% of the time you swat it away and kick and cry because I’m depriving you of your bottle and I’m probably the meanest mom in the history of ever.
You got REALLY sick once and it lasted a week and a half. You projectile-vomited on the couch, in the bathroom, and ON the dog. You were so weak for an entire day that you could hardly pull yourself up from your lounger pillow on the floor. I secretly enjoyed staying home with you while you tried to sleep off the sick, just holding you in my lap and kissing your feverish little forehead.
You LOVED all of the Christmas trees. Everywhere we went, you immediately noticed that OMG, THEY HAVE A TREE TOO. Just LOOK at how pretty the lights and ornaments are! Can we look at it and touch it PLEASE? Every day at home, you would point at our tree and ask us to pick you up so you could reach and you’d (mostly) touch each ornament gently and name it with a “bwuh”.
You’re so good at sharing that you got me in trouble on our flight back from Phoenix over Thanksgiving.
It was a completely full 8:30 p.m. departure flight, and not only did we get split up from your dad, but we were assigned a middle seat. I was sure that you were going to sleep, since it was way past your bedtime and you had maybe napped for a total of 15 minutes that day. Of course you had a different plan in mind. You squirmed, tried to climb the seat in front of you, turned around in my lap and did things like stick your fingers in my mouth to fishhook me while giggling, every time you were at risk of nodding off. The woman sitting in the window seat next to us was an extremely sweet, off-duty flight attendant who explained to me that she loved children (thank god) as I was apologizing for your wandering hands and feet.
The passenger that joined us in the aisle seat was a young person (maybe early 20s) with a puffer vest and sleeveless shirt, athletic shorts and sneakers, smooth hairless legs, a side shave Macklemore-ish haircut, and a full face of makeup. I am pretty sure this person was a male, biologically speaking. He brought his Starbucks coffee on board with its red lipstick stained lid, and some sort of danish treat. The second he took his snack out of its green and brown paper bag, you sat up in my lap and held your hand out eagerly, asking him to share with an “eh?”.
“That’s not yours” I said, and I dug into my bag to get you some veggie straws. You grabbed a couple in each hand, and ate a couple before offering some to our neighbors. You reached over to our left across our younger friend’s lap, and I caught your arm and said, “No, he doesn’t want any”. The second it came out of my mouth I realized, OH GOD, I should not have assumed this person is a “he”! Should I have said “they”? WHAT KIND OF A WORLD ARE WE LIVING IN?
They didn’t respond, but they did not look pleased. When I apologized for you throwing a torn up (clean) wipe in their lap later on in the flight, they did not even acknowledge or look back at me.
This experience reminded me that
1. I have no idea what I’m doing, how do you raise a human in this world? and
2. You are the sweetest little boy I could ask for and I do not really care what other people think, I’ll just continue to cuddle you and enjoy you and we’ll just do our best. ok?
OK. Love you, Henry Boy.