The twentieth month

Dear E.,

I must admit I took another look at the title of this post when I finally sat down to write it. Twenty months! Not only are we now closer to your second birthday than your first, we are out of the ‘teens. You seem to have done a lot of growing up this month. I think you’ve probably shot up, as I’ve pulled out a bunch of pants in 2T and put away the last of the 12-18 months that were still (just) fitting, and even some of the straight 18 months as well. But more than that, it’s your face that looks different. At the very end of this month I was away for a couple of days helping a friend move, and I couldn’t believe it the afternoon I arrived home when I climbed the stairs to our porch and saw the little boy standing on the couch looking out the window at me! It lifted my heart to hear you shout, “Mama!” and then to see you scramble down from the couch and make a beeline for the front door, calling out my name as you ran.

Speaking of running, my son, have you ever become FAST this month. You are so confident on your feet, and you’ll sprint around the top floor of the house when we’re getting your bath ready, giggling wildly and encouraging me to chase you. When there’s no snow on the sidewalks (which has happened more often than not thus far this winter) we’ll go out for a walk in the neighbourhood, and while I don’t yet have to break into a run to keep up with you when you take off, I’m definitely having to stretch out my walking stride to its maximum.

This month marked your second Christmas, and you definitely took a lot more notice of it than last year. You loved the Christmas lights in our neighbourhood, and the ones we strung up on our tree and around our living room. Your favourite part of the afternoon was coming down from your nap and asking me to plug the lights in. You also loved our Christmas tree. We just have a little artificial one that we’ve had since I first moved in with your Daddy, but it was the perfect size for you. You helped me to decorate it, and once it was up, we only had to ask you once not to touch the ornaments or take them off the tree, and you treated it so nicely and with so much respect all month. You and your Daddy both got a new ornament in your stockings on Christmas morning and you knew immediately where they were supposed to go- nothing else would do until you put them both on the tree! And when it was finally time to take the tree down you helped me take the ornaments off and put them in their boxes.

You also really got the hang of opening presents. We spent Christmas in our own house, so it was just you and Mummy and Daddy and the cats, but even so there were enough gifts under the tree that you came close to getting present fatigure (your Daddy’s family had sent you quite a few). But you managed to power on through and open all of them. You were also happy to take each present from under the tree and hand it to me or to Daddy depending on what we told you the tag said. And you were an expert at opening presents by the time we travelled after Christmas Day to see your grandparents and aunts and uncle. You had new Christmas pajamas to wear on Christmas Eve, and while you may have been a bit confused as to why we were leaving out cookies and beer for Santa, and carrots for his reindeer, on Christmas morning you knew you were supposed to stay in your pjs and you became most distraught when I took off your pj pants to change your diaper.

It was a wonderful Christmas. After your nap we went out for a walk in the ravine near our house to watch the skaters at the open-air rink (which is your all-time favourite activity right now), and we were so proud of you as you trundled along next to us for well over a kilometre. You certainly had adjusted quickly to your snow boots (when we’d put them on you the day before for the very first time you were horrified to find such heavy bulky things on your feet and you spent quite a long time trying to convince us you couldn’t possibly walk in them). We had pork schnitzel for Christmas dinner because we knew you would love it, and you ate almost as much as your father. You also enjoyed the self-saucing chocolate pudding we had for dessert.

While we were visiting our relatives you got to really play in the snow for the first time. You went tobogganing and LOVED it, and built a snowfort with your Daddy and your Grandpa. You loved walking on the snow and hearing it squeak under your boots, and you were so patient every time we had to get you into all of your winter weather gear before heading out the door. You were also incredibly patient with the long drives. You didn’t even want to read your books- most of the time you just looked out the back window and sang to yourself. Occasionally you’d fall asleep for a short time, or you’d chat to us, but for the most part you were happy to just watch the kilometres roll by, and your Daddy and I were so appreciative of this, especially when he had to do the final leg of the journey back home without me. You have become such a good traveller- we’re both so impressed by how well you adapt to being in a new environment, and how happy you are in the car. We kept reminding ourselves of the first long drive we did with you to a friend’s wedding when  you were not quite two months old, and you just screamed and cried for most of the way, especially when we got caught in a traffic jam.

We’ve started going to some of the other drop-in programs during the week in our neighbourhood, and you really like them. You don’t enjoy circle time very much, especially if there are too many other kids and it gets too chaotic, but you love exploring the rooms and seeing what new toys are available. The craft table and the toy kitchen at one location are your favourites. You don’t take much notice of the other kids yet, and you don’t stand up for yourself if they take your toys away- you tend to just look at me with an outraged expression on your face, or you just get a different toy, depending on how attached you were to whatever they grabbed. The facilitators often comment on how mellow and laid back you are. On the days when I’ve been at the library and you’ve been with your Daddy, the moment I get home you start telling me about your day by pointing at the towers you’ve built with your Megabloks, imitating sweeping and dancing, and chatting up a storm. I love that you want me to feel included in what’s happened while I’ve been gone. When we go for walks in the neighbourhood you point out all the mail boxes, fire hydrants and stop signs that we see. Now I find myself noticing them when I’m out by myself, and realizing that they turn up in all sorts of places! You still love vehicles of all sorts, and if we ask you “What does green mean?” when we see a traffic light you will gleefully shout out “Go!”.

You really are such a happy, easy going little guy these days. Very little seems to bother you, and I don’t know that I’d say we’ve had even one outburst that could classify as a tantrum in the last month. Right at the very end of the month you started to show increasing frustration when you wanted to communicate something that was more complicated than your limited vocabulary would allow, but for the most part we understand each other and we can usually figure out what it is that you’d like. You will get out your hat and mittens before a walk, choose your own socks from your closet, find your boots and try to put them on your feet, take off your own shirt if I’ve pulled your arms through the sleeves, put your dirty washing in the laundry basket, offer arms and legs to help me get you dressed, put away hat, mitts, boots, and socks after a walk and take your own shoes and socks off if I help you get started by undoing the velcro. You always brush your own teeth first at night and then I finish up. You will carry your own snack plate so carefully to your table. You ask for your washcloth at the table so you can clean up your spills and wipe your hands if you feel they’ve become too messy. You still love sweeping and vacuuming and helping me clean the house.  You continue to put your toys away, often without even being asked, and you will place all your books back on your shelves. You love emptying out your entire container of Megabloks all over the floor, but you’re also happy to pick them all up again once you’re finished playing with them. One night at supper you had got down from your chair and became very agitated when you found a lone Megablok lurking under the couch that hadn’t been put away. You weren’t satisfied until I helped you open the lid to put it where it belonged.

Christmas meant you now have a new selection of toys to play with. I’m still rotating your toys around every week (or twice a week if I get organized), and it’s fun to see what you first choose when a new group appears. You love the wooden farm and animals that Santa brought as well as the three pocket-sized cars. You love your new xylophone and your wooden train set. You love trains so much you tend to line up your cars, your blocks, or anything else you can find into a line and then proudly announce to us “deet deet”, which is your way of saying “choo choo”. You have adored the ride-on fire/dump truck your Granny bought you from the moment you first laid eyes on it on Christmas morning. You are still very fond of your Megabloks and your books. I’ve recently rearranged your shelves and brought out your “real” books and you are always so careful when turning the pages. In the Town All Year Round is proving to be as big of a hit as I was hoping for, and has given us all a break from Cars and Trucks and Things that Go.  You’re also now interested in the text on the pages, and not just the illustrations and you’ll often point to particular words or sentences and ask me to read them out again. You are becoming much more interested in crafts- earlier in the month it was crayons and colouring but at the end of the month you were showing more interest in Playdoh. And you still love dancing to music, looking at your photos on the fridge, and helping us in the kitchen. You love rough housing with your Daddy or your Grandpa. This month you also learned how to pet the cats ever so gently rather than grab their fur, which has meant they aren’t quite as quick to vanish when you appear.

Routine wise we had a worrying two days at the start of the month where you went on a nap strike and your Daddy and I feared for our (much needed) work time. Luckily you seem to have decided that wasn’t a good idea, and you’ve been napping pretty well ever since. You did go through a phase of getting up for the day much much too early, but that has settled down again. I suspect it’s been related to the changes in your speech- the sleep disruptions were a result of your brain working on solidifying the changes right before you started coming out with new words. It is funny to think about how much I stressed about your routine (or lack thereof) when you were younger. We’re in such a good groove now. Even if you don’t go to sleep right away, we have no problems putting you in your crib somewhere between 7 and 7:30, and you’ll eventually just drift off. Sometimes you’ll be chatting away to yourself really loudly and then you will suddenly fall silent- we think you must fall asleep mid-sentence! Meals are always unpredictable: you were in a growth spurt earlier in the month when we couldn’t seem to produce enough food, but you’re out of that now, so we’re having to adjust our expectations yet again as to how much you’re likely to eat at any one meal. You have developed an intense love for vanilla ice cream, and it was a bit of a shock to be home again after our travelling and discover that daily cookies were no longer on offer.

You’ve been quietly coming out with the occasional new word all month. It started with “out” (ouw), and then you came out with a whole series that sound like “I did it”, “I see”, and “I do”. You use them in the right context, and if we ask you a question that you think deserves a negative answer, you’ll always answer with the sharp “ah!” you use to mean “no”, so we’re pretty sure you’re not just parroting us. You also now have a word for cheese (“dee”). If I ask you if you’re cold, you’ll say “brrm brrm”, which I think has come from my saying “brr” for being cold, and you love calling out “boo!” (boom) if something has fallen over. You now make an elephant noise as well as raising your arm to be its trunk (which you’ve been doing for months).  And right at the very end of the month you came out with teeth (“teef”) and big (“bee”), which I suspect means we might be on the cusp of a language explosion.

It’s hard to put into words just how much of a joy you have become. I feel grateful each and every day that this funny, happy, kind, calm, quiet, self-assured, mellow, easy going, contented toddler who gives beautiful kisses and hugs is my son.  We have so much fun together.

Love you ever so much,

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Filed under E.- the second year, Letters to E.

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