dear wren (1 yr)
I’m sat at a café across from a woman who is holding a little boy who can’t be more than two weeks old and he has those big eyes and that blank stare that you used to have when you were that young and you couldn’t quite focus yet. Were you ever really that tiny? God, I miss you being small and squishy and all the bits that have happened since. Part of me wants to press rewind and start all over again so I can relive it all, really be in it. But then, I’d miss out on what’s to come and I have a feeling that life with you is about to get even better.
You’ve been very busy this past month. Let’s talk about your stair obsession. If left to your own devices, you would spend the entire day going up and down the damn stairs. You’re not walking yet, except for the few tentative steps you’ve taken over the last couple of weeks. The stairs, however, you have mastered. When you’re not climbing up the stairs, you’re throwing things down the stairs. The other day, you threw an entire laundry basket’s worth of clothes down the stairs, one item at a time. Then clapped, chuffed with your hard day’s work.
You’re equally hooked on the slides at the park. As long as you’re barefoot (which is 98% of the time), you walk up the slide, holding on to the edges like a boss, then you let go at the top and slide backwards on your belly. Weeeeeeee! I have a vague memory of doing the same when I was a kid. Mom tells the story of when I was five or six and I came running into the house, squeals of excitement, “Mom, mom, come see what I can do,” and then I ran back outside, straight to the swing set and hoisted myself onto the central bar of the A frame, swung upside down, hung by my knees like a bat, and shouted “I’m Wonder Woman!”
Your other obsession: books. You love hanging out in your room and leafing trough all of your books. You even leaf through mine. I won’t deny that this pleases me so. These days, during your bedtime feed, just as you’re about to fall asleep, you sit bolt upright, point at your books, shout “ook” and I say, “yes, books” and you go back to nursing, reassured, I guess, that they are still right there where you left them. Your new favourite books are La chasse à l’ours and Is this my nose? Every time I ask if you can find your nose, eyes, ears, mouth, chin, you smash the palm of your hand into your forehead. You get the idea, kiddo. The dexterity will come soon enough.
Your favourite favourite thing is to hang outside, rain or shine. “Adide, adide”, you say, pretty much from the moment you wake up. As in, are we going outside now? Pleeeeeease can we go outside? You are by far the filthiest baby I’ve seen in all of London. Your knees are always dirty, your feet and toes too. And there is usually a splinter somewhere on your body. I don’t mind that you look like a wildling. I prefer that you explore your world, get dirty, get involved. Just be careful of dog shit. And cigarette butts. I draw the line at dog shit and cigarette butts. Otherwise, the world is your oyster.
You love to bang on things. With your hands, chopsticks, spoons, the horseshoe that sits by the door. You bang on the couch and chairs and upside down canisters and flowerpots and pans and glasses and the massive can of olive oil that should have gone into the recycling bin weeks ago but it sounds like steel drums when you tap on it and it just makes you so darn happy that I can’t bring myself to chuck it.
You also love to close what is open and open what it closed and put things back in their place (caps on bottles and lids on jars, especially). This makes you sound like a neat freak, which is miles from the truth. You only have to spend five minutes in the kitchen for it to look like a typhoon has hit London, destroying everything in sight.
You’ve started to imitate everything that I do. The other day, I was hanging laundry on the rack, and suddenly there you were at my feet, haphazardly draping clothes over it too. Last weekend, we moved the couch in preparation for your birthday party and you proceeded to push all the chairs towards the wall. And these days, when daddy runs your bath, you try to play with the faucets to adjust the temperature and then you swirl the water below to check that it’s just right.
You still love to suck on bunny’s ears to help you fall asleep or if you need soothing. You suck on one ear and use the other one to rub your eyes. It’s terribly cute but also disgusting (the smell, ugh) and I’m not sure what to do about it.
It’s amazing how much you understand now. When I point at something, you go get it. When I ask you to spit out whatever rank thing you just put in your mouth, you do. When I say bisous pour maman, you lean in and give me a big slobbery open-mouthed kiss. The other day, as I was sat on the toilet, you ripped a square of toilet paper off and handed it to me. This made me chuckle, but also look forward to the day when I can take a poo in peace.
You have six teeth now. Daddy says you look like a baby dinosaur.
Your favourite breakfast this month is porridge. And it now appears that you’ve gone off broccoli. Sigh! Although I know not to stress about it, naps and meal times are still the most challenging part of being a mom.
Your left eye is smaller than your right eye (my right eye is smaller than my left one) and when you get really tired, it starts to squint.
You’ve taken to twiddling your thumbs when you are in deep observation. I’d love to know what’s going on inside that head of yours.
Dancing. You’re really into music and dancing these days. You generally stay seated and fling your arms from side to side, like you’re warming up for Capoeira. And every single time I’m even near the record player, you start to sway.
You love to clap. You clap every time I finish singing a song to you (why, thank you very much, I’m here again in an hour) and every time you think you’ve done something clever. Sometimes you do it so that I notice the incredible thing you’ve done. Other times you do it all on your own. The other day, I caught you clapping at yourself for closing the door to your toy piggy bank.
Coming from someone who spends far too much time caring about what other people think, I love watching you stare at people unapologetically, or squawk excitedly on the tube. You haven’t learned yet how you are “supposed to act” in society. The other day, a lady sat on the bus next to you and daddy. She had the longest fingernails I’d ever seen and you spent the entire journey trying to play with them. Of course, we had to teach you that you can’t go around yanking on people’s fingernails, no matter how freakishly long they are, because that’s just weird. However, I couldn’t help but love your unabashed curiosity. There’s so much freedom in watching you just be, without a care in the world. Please hold onto that.
I am filled with so much pride for who you are and who you are becoming and what we’ve accomplished together, as a family, in the past year. And at the same time, I’m feeling nostalgic for the year that has just passed and how it went by too fast, so fast that I’m not even sure I’ve had a chance to register it. It all feels like a long fog now. But all those sleepless nights, all the worries, all the doubts pale in comparison to the love we feel for you. Here’s to another amazing year together, my little pork chop. I can’t wait to see what you have in store for us.