This letter is a bit late since we were away over the weekend celebrating Thanksgiving at your grandparents’ houses. I have so much to be thankful for, and that really came home to me on Thanksgiving Monday when I looked at you and realized that you were suddenly seventeen months old! Next month you will be a year and a half! I keep finding myself flipping through your baby journal and comparing what you were doing at this time last year to what you are doing now. I still find it hard to believe that at this time last year you couldn’t even sit up on your own, and now you putter all around our house, completely at ease on your feet.
This month was a month of consolidation. Learning to walk last month was a huge milestone, and it’s been interesting to watch you experiment with your balance and your feet as your confidence increased. I can’t remember the last time you crawled anywhere, even when on uneven ground at the park. You’re not running yet, but you can move at a pretty good pace when you get going, and you’re becoming more adept at going down stairs standing up and holding on to the bannister (you still exclusively crawl up the stairs). Now that you’re walking with confidence I’ve been trying to stand back and let you do more things yourself. You can wriggle out of your stroller without any difficulty, although you still need a bit of assistance to get in. You love walking to and from our front door. You are so careful as you go up (or down) the stairs that lead to our front porch, and you love to stop and point out the flowers in our front garden. You can drink from a glass without spilling, although you do still need me to hold it for you, and you’re becoming quite adept at using a spoon. You do still prefer to eat with your hands 90% of the time, even if you’re eating yoghurt. You offer me your arms and legs when I’m getting you dressed in the morning, and you can pull your own shirts off over your head.
Quite early in the month you decided you didn’t want to sit in your little red car anymore when going for walks in the neighbourhood- you wanted to push it yourself! For a couple of weeks it seemed we spent nearly every afternoon out on our street with you pushing your car up and down the sidewalk, pointing out flowers and collecting leaves and rocks and sticks and giving them to me for safekeeping. You were very upset when the car had to be put away because it was time to come in to make dinner, or if we got the stroller out instead. You’re definitely a toddler now, and you’ve been known to throw the old tantrum. I don’t think they’re anything like the scale some of your baby friends are producing, because you really are still remarkably easy going, but you’ve perfected your limp noodle impression (or alternatively your rigid board) and more than once you’ve ended up lying on the floor weeping with frustration. The worst tantrum we’ve had yet occurred on a day when we were outside watching the steam rollers on our street. Eventually they drove off, and you looked at me and requested “more” steamrollers. When I failed to produce them, it was as though your heart was breaking. I hate hearing you cry, but I know that you are old enough now to start to understand that you can’t always get what you want, exactly at the moment you want it. It’s a delicate balance, but we’re figuring it out.
You have very clear ideas about how you want your day to unfold. It is so clear to me that you’re currently in a phase where you love order and routine and you want things to be kept EXACTLY AS THEY ALWAYS ARE. You like choosing your own bedtime stories at night and will even point out the order in which you want me to read them. You love putting your toys away before bathtime and will sometimes even do this before your nap without being asked. You are the biggest fan of the vacuum and the broom and the dustpan and brush, and almost every afternoon I’ll find you standing by the broom closet signing “more” and waiting hopefully for me to agree to sweep. I’ll start with the broom while you carry around the dustpan and brush and then we’ll switch. You’ve pretty much preferred sweeping or watching me vacuum to playing with any of your toys all month. Our house has never been this clean! You decide when you would like to have a snack, and on more than one occasion your Daddy and I have turned around from doing something else to discover that you’ve opened the door to the pantry and were carrying around the tupperware container of crackers (I think you would eat crackers all day long if we let you. Occasionally the day starts off with tears if you’ve asked for crackers for breakfast and we’ve said no).
You really love being included in daily tasks. You’ll carefully hand me plates and bowls one at a time from the dishwasher, you’ll carry your plate into the kitchen and put it on the counter if asked, you get your shoes out of the cupboard before a walk and put them away afterwards, and you absolutely adore standing on a chair next to me in the kitchen and helping me make dinner. We made zucchini bread one day and you needed no prompting to know what to do with the wooden spoon covered in batter! Although I have to pay more attention to what I’m doing if I have you right next to me (especially if I’m chopping vegetables), I love watching you concentrate fiercely while putting chopped veggies in the mixing bowl, making sure to try three or four along the way. You eat all sorts of things while we’re making dinner that you refuse time and time again if they appear on your plate when you’re at the table. A couple of times you’ve actually been too full to eat dinner as you were so busy beforehand helping me cook and munching on chickpeas and red pepper and kale.
We did a bit of travelling this month and that really showed that you are old enough now both to recognize that your routine has been altered and to be disrupted by the changes. You and I flew down to Virginia for a weekend to visit one of my friends and her family. I was so proud of how you behaved at the airport and on the plane. You loved looking out the window, both before we took off and while we were in the air. You were content to sit on my lap, read your stories, eat your snack, and listen to the songs I was singing. It was harder for you to cope while we were visiting. I think you found my friend’s children overwhelming; I kept finding you heading downstairs to the basement where you could play by yourself in peace and quiet. It was a similar story when we were away over Thanksgiving at the very end of the month. You were ok for the first little while at your Grannie’s house, but once we were at Grandpa’s and you’d been away from home for close to a week it became clear that you were finding it all to be a bit too much. You were so happy the first day we were back at home. You unpacked all of your toys and took all of your books off the shelves- it looked to me like you were excited to see them all again. You did so well in the car- we experimented with driving during your night and both times you were happy enough to be loaded into your carseat in your pjs. You chatted to yourself until the sun went down and then cuddled your bunny and put yourself right to sleep. It wasn’t a great sleep, as we could tell it was quite shallow, but you didn’t wake up until the drive was over both times, and then you went right back to sleep as soon as we put you in your crib. We’re very excited about this development, as it will mean we can spend more time visiting your grandparents since we won’t have to leave early in the day to get home before your bedtime.
One side effect of the trip down south was you became even more attached to your bunny blanket. At the beginning of the month you’d started wanting to hold on to her and cuddle her while I sang you your lullabies right before I put you in the crib at night, but it was still rare for her to come out of the crib unless we were driving somewhere. While in Virginia, however, she basically never left your side. Your favourite part of the whole visit was the birthday party out at a farm- you loved the tractors and the donkeys and especially the wagon ride, and your bunny was your constant companion. It was a similar story over Thanksgiving- you wanted to bring her with you when you came down for breakfast, and she never went back to the crib until naptime. At home you clearly feel that you don’t need to rely as heavily on her, although you do sometimes request that we go upstairs and get her partway through the day, and we’ve had the odd meal where she’s been sitting up at the table as well. Your Daddy and I both had very special stuffed animals when we were little, so we’re glad you’ve decided she’s a good friend.
Your receptive vocabulary continues to astonish us. You can listen to and understand quite complex instructions now. You’re starting to get the idea of imaginative play, and you’ll hold the phone up to your ear, or pretend to munch on the play food at your Grandpa’s house. This month you’ve been especially excited by clocks, ladybugs, butterflies, and spiders. You’ll point to every clock you see, and you’ll fetch books that you want me to read that I suspect you’ve chosen solely because they have pictures of various bugs in them. You picked up a few words this month. You’re not all that interested in nouns yet, as we’re fairly certain you can say “up”, “done” or “all done”, “there” and “more” plus one more that means “dump truck” or “cement mixer” and is the verbal match to the sign you invented (you still love trucks). We think you have quite a few more words that you’re using and we just haven’t figured them out yet, as you’ll occasionally interrupt your babble and jargoning to tell us something with great deliberation that is clearly a word. You’re also just as clearly annoyed when you realize that silly Mummy and Daddy have failed, yet again, to understand what you have told us. We promise we’ll try harder to figure it out.
You are such a delight right now, my darling son. One of my favourite parts of the day is watching you rush around the top floor of our house after your bath, stark naked and shrieking with glee. We put on cds and dance around the kitchen and it never fails to make your Daddy and I laugh to watch you boogie and bounce up and down. I love taking our daily walks around the neighbourhood and watching you explore. It made my heart melt when we were at your Grannie’s house and your favourite thing to do each day was go outside to help her fill the bird feeders and then pick flowers from her garden that you would bring to me, one at a time, with a huge smile on your face. I never thought parenting a toddler could be so much fun!