In less than a week, you will be 22 months old. This isn’t normally a significant milestone age, but it is for us: for the last 9 months, we’ve been telling people that 22 months will be the age difference between you and your baby sister. Despite you being able to point to the baby in momma’s belly (and deny that there is a baby in your belly), you have no idea how radically your life is about to change. I hope and pray that you will adjust quickly to being a big brother, and that at the same time we will still be able to cherish our time with the delightful little boy you have become.
Because that is exactly what you are. Over the summer, you made a remarkably fast transition from toddler to little boy, both in appearance and in development. You hardly said 5 words in June and now you have a word or exclamation for nearly everything. You’ve nicknamed our dogs “Momo” and “Caca” (unfortunately appropriate), you call yourself “Titi” (said like “Tito”), and you have great, expansive exclamations for almost everything. Your dad taught you to put your hands in the air and yell “Goaaaalllllll” when you are excited, so times of fun are frequently punctuated by “Goalllllll!” This is only better when you can find something to stand on, like a tree stump or a couch.
The other night during naked time (a pre-bedtime tradition), we had a little family dance party to your two favorite songs, “La la la Lemon” and “Mahna Mahna” (by Cake, not the Muppets version). We listen to “La la la” sometimes 20 times per day and I’m surprised at how long it takes me to tire of it, perhaps because I wait anxiously for the line at the end, “La la la la la with me,” when you usually stand up, put both fists in the air and shout a remarkably on-pitch “MEEEEEEEEEEEE.”
We’ve had a balance bike for you since last Christmas and we’ve pushed you around on it since then, but your toes only really started being able to touch the ground in the last month, and I can’t tell you how much we’ve enjoyed watching you learn to love your bike. You and I often take a walk or a bike ride (me riding, you in the trailer) in the morning, and after we come home for the last few weeks, you get on your little red bike and cruise around in the dirt lot across the street from our house. In the span of a few days, you went from barely being able to balance, to riding up over curbs, loving bumps, picking up speed and coasting, and even coasting down sloped driveways (with only occasional crashes – your bike bears the scars, and we’re glad that you’re so compliant about wearing your helmet). Your dad is especially proud of your biking passion and prowess, but everybody who sees you agrees that it’s pretty stinkin’ cute. At Grandpa Jim’s sushi party last Saturday night, you were wearing your little Chinese outfit and your helmet, riding your bike in circles around their house shouting “Wheee!” What a sight.
These are all recent ways we’ve been enjoying you, but you should know that we had fun with you all summer as you were making the transition from toddler to little boy. We took a huge road trip from Billings to Northern California then up the coast to Portland and finally back home. So you spent almost two straight weeks with grandparents on both sides, as well as a week with Great Grandma Eileen, Uncle Pax and (now) soon-to-be Aunt Sue, and another week with Aunt Carrie and Uncle Mark and cousins Millie and Sophie and lots of other relatives. You were a champ for all that driving, although you did spend an awful lot of time mastering the iPad, and you had trouble falling asleep in the car. You got to experience the beach for the first time and loved getting your feet and hands and everything else covered in sand. You were patient for all the wine tasting and you continued to expand your already impressive culinary repertoire wherever we went.
After California and Oregon, we spent a lot of time with you at the cabin. Our usual morning routine was to take you outside after breakfast and just see where you went. You loved just heading up a road and would run for a quarter or half a mile, adding little skips or hops every couple of steps. You loved watching the dogs run and explore and trying to follow them over logs and into the trees. You loved picking up and throwing sticks and dirt clods and pine cones. You loved throwing sticks and rocks into the ponds for the dogs and watching the dogs swim. You loved playing naked in your makeshift pool (a Rubbermaid tub) on the porch. You loved mooing at the cows, and you learned to howl like a coyote. (You did not love the four-wheelers or the dune buggy, but I’m sure you will soon.) I love that you get to grow up spending so much time there. Your daddy and I both grew up a little bit wild, and it thrills our hearts to see you already loving the outdoors so much.
There are so many things that you do that make me wonder what you will be like when you grow up. Like today, I put on a new pair of shoes and you desperately wanted me to take them off; you followed me around the house whimpering, “All done.” Once you started to get used to the shoes, I pointed out that they lighted up when you took steps, and you cried for several minutes over that revelation. I think it’s because you just really like your comfort zone and new things take some getting used to. You have a toddler bed that you spent one night in, but now you insist on sleeping in your crib – again, maybe because of the safety of the boundaries in the crib. And yet, you love to play rough with your dad and you do love to run and adventure, and you get right back on your bike after a crash, so I don’t think you’re a total wimp. I do appreciate your caution when you’re going down stairs or jumping on a trampoline. Maybe you will be a calculated risk taker when you grow up. We’re a little afraid that your baby sister will turn out to be the one who does things with reckless abandon as she follows her big brother around.
Yes, I’m writing to you at 22 months, not a usual milestone. But I just want to bottle you up at this age and keep the memories of who you are right now forever, and this is the closest I can get before your little sister comes and the next few months of our lives disappear into a sleepless haze. I get sad when we sit in the green chair in your room reading books before and after your naps and I realize that our extended times of snuggling in that chair, of going to the park together after a run to Target, really of it just being me and my little buddy, are quickly drawing to a close. I know that life will be even richer and fuller as a family of four, but here is my final record of how much I love being our little family of three. You are, and always will be, the reason I fell in love with being a mom.