Seventeen Months: Another country heard from

Dear MZ:

Why, yes, that is a backwards baseball cap. You put it there yourself. In the last month, your independence and sense of style seem to be going hand in hand. You walk, you dance, you practice running in place. You touch fabric and jewelry and declare them pretty. You love to wear my baseball caps – backwards – and try on my shoes. In fact, you regularly lug our shoes from one room to another. I don't know if this has anything to do with style, if you are selecting or rejecting our wardrobes, but it is adorable, especially when they’re your Dad’s Size 12s in either hand.

You are also gracious, yet insistent. When the manager at TJs gave you a balloon, you said thank you and added a wee as we wheeled off into the aisles, and you bowled over the impossibly Goth checker by thanking him every time he dropped a bag into our cart. You occasionally attempt You’re welcome, and when you really, really want something, we hear a Please, or MoreAgain, a fusion of More and Again that expresses your urgency perfectly. And today at the park, you picked up a colorful ball that belonged to another toddler, and I told you it was Not ours. Ours you said with conviction, thrusting it at me to hold while you explored the slide.

Now that you’re more mobile, you demonstrate that you know how to work a room: when we have people over, especially family, you go from one to the other, offering your cheek for kisses, your forehead for bumps, throwing your arms around knees before moving to the next conquest. While you’re still shy with your peers, I’m learning that the turtle wins the race. At the park, the children’s zoo, the playgroup, there is inevitably a toy that everyone wants, and you will not be among those who march up and take it. But frequently, in the mêlée that is a playground, you emerge with the toy after all, and are getting smart about not giving it up. You spent a good 20 minutes on this tractor after stepping nimbly in to capture it from squabbling sibs. And you’re more and more interested in other children, toddling up to say Hi or announcing Emmett or Henry at likely suspects.

Your verbal skills have catapulted you from the baby of the family to a voting member, albeit with some constraints. When I give you a choice between egg and cheese toast, turkey and tofu, you make your call. I no longer throw away sippies of milk, because you tell me when you want one and when you don’t. You ask for the park, and when you’re done, you say Home. And every morning you ask for coffee, every evening you ask for wine, with an optimism that confounds us but does little to lessen our resolve. Some day you’ll understand...

You still take in everything around you, sometimes to your detriment, it seems. While there've been no more night terrors, you show clear signs of overstimulation when we thrust you into too many new situations consecutively. I've learned that you will enjoy almost anything if we do just one major activity between naps and sleep, and as a result I enjoy our time together tremendously. I am learning to move more slowly, to take in more of each moment, to accept that life is not my To Do list, finally. You are continuing to teach me what is important rather than what is urgent. And while at first I was utterly exhausted by your energy and short attention span, I am now beguiled by your urge to move, and by your sometimes incomprehensible agenda as you arrange your world with utter seriousness.

Miriam, thank you for the laughter and warmth you bring into our lives. We love you more than we can say.

Your Mom
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