Thirteen Months: Words are multiplying

Dear MZ,

You're all about talking these days. Walking is starting to cross your radar, but talking is key, and we finally have to modulate our truckdrivers' mouths, since there's no telling what you'll decide to repeat.

We marvel at the seeming randomness of your word choice. We've been saying Cheers and clinking glasses with you ever since you started on a sippy cup, but although you clearly know the drill, you do not say Cheers. You do say Ball, Bear, Baby, and Happy. You snatched the last two out of nowhere, suddenly these were your words. You flirt with Daddy and Mommy, almost always waking with a Hi, Daddy and resorting to Mommy, mommy, mommy when you really want me or something I'm holding. You say Hi to anyone who crosses your path, especially in restaurants at high volume. Yesterday as we were walking, I'd grab the toy that hangs from your carrier and say, "I got it!" And you started to exclaim right back I got! Last week you were working on Open, Close and No, and would say Again at the end of a book if you wanted Round 2. But this week we've returned to Up, Down and a vigorous head nod for all commands. It's fascinating to see the importance of repetition in making a word your own.

Eating is also totally random right now. You devoured pizza at playgroup, but turned up your nose when we went out with some other families on Saturday night. You go days without trying anything new, then surprise us by tearing into lamb patties and pita with minted yogurt sauce. Especially since you mostly eschew white food, which means dairy is pretty much out of the question. And you seem to get a kick out of putting too much in your mouth and spitting it back out again. At the end of meals, you take enormous gulps of water, then let it flow back down your chin. It's disgusting, but hilarious, and you laugh and laugh, and we can't help laughing, too. We realize that good discipline is all about consistency, and early reports find that we do not excel.

We all suffered through a nasty head cold in the last month, and you took the opportunity to self-wean. You pushed me away at nap time, and decided you'd rather have a sippy cup and be part of the action for main meals. We're down to first thing in the morning, which you show no sign of giving up, and last thing at night, which I am oddly afraid to give up. I keep thinking, "But what if I need some?" Breastfeeding has been the easiest way to nourish and comfort you for the last year, and although I'm enjoying wearing adult bras again, I'm going to miss this time with you when it finally draws to a close.

You also started putting yourself to sleep this month, which is a huge and strangely bittersweet development. For a few weeks, you seemed unable to settle down for naps and we assumed that you were transitioning to one nap per day. But it became clear that we were distracting you, silently offering to play Up/Down or "Hi!" just by being there, waiting targets for the toys you would toss from your crib. We tried leaving, and lo, you were asleep within minutes, sometimes without a whimper. People look at us like we're bonkers, but we miss rocking you to sleep, the read-a-few-books-kiss-kiss-close-the-door routine leaves us a little lonely. Not that we're complaining, we are grateful that the last we saw of Cry it Out was four months of trying to get you to take a bottle.

The one habit you show no sign of giving up is grabbing my nipples in public. You are swift and persistant, and when I gave up trying to keep you off the other day while trying to pay the guy at REI, he shook his finger and said, "No, no." I wasn't sure whether to laugh or to slug him, but was much closer to the latter. I've begun wearing turtle necks during the day, which does indeed slow you down, but isn't the most comfortable solution as we head into Spring.

You're starting to cruise more and more, and we're seeing signs of petulant frustration when you want to move from place to place. You shriek angrily, then shift to a crawl position to make your move. This is different from the shear anguish you displayed when learning to crawl, there's a note of toddler pissed-offedness that's totally new, and frankly, a bit disagreeable. I'm acutely aware, as I watch the toddlers snatch and hit and scream, that you are developing a will, and that my days with a mostly compliant companion are nearing an end. I remind myself that we wish a strong will for you as you move into a developmental stage that requires a lot more pushing of buttons.

So I'm enjoying these days with a bit of homesickness, as you race into a toddler mindset. At 13 months you're not such a baby anymore. But MZ, you're still good fun.



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