To Miles on your 24th month of life,
December 12, 2006
This morning I woke up to your arms hugging my neck, your 28 lb body draped across my chest. I kissed your neck until you laughed and kicked me in the stomach a few times. This is fairly typical of our mornings, with you snuggled in between me and your father, having joined us in bed at some point in the middle of the night. Many mornings your sister will be in bed with us too. And I love the way you two will greet each other when you wake up, as if you are long lost friends who have been apart for a long time.
Every day you become more independent and more assertive about your opinions. (And for someone only 24 months old you certainly have a lot of them.) Every day I think that you must have reached the pinnacle of your oppositional behavior, but then you go ahead and surprise me by taking your oppositional behavior to new heights.
This morning as we lay in bed I said, “It’s your birthday. Happy Birthday!”
You said, “NO!”
I said it a few more times to convince you that it was in fact your birthday, but you just screamed “No” each time I mentioned it. I know how you feel, but it didn’t happen for me until I turned 35.
You exhaust me. Your endless climbing, jumping, and coloring on everything but paper. You wear me out, child. And it makes me glad that I am at the end of my baby and child bearing days, and not just starting my family like many of the people our age that your father and I know.
A couple of weeks ago I returned home from a weekend away, filled with Christmas shopping, eating out in restaurants, and not heeding your every tyrannical whim, and you were already sound asleep. In the morning you began calling for me from your crib as you do every mornning. “MOM.MOM.MOM” As I went to get out of bed to go get you, your father excitedly stopped me. For a brief, oh-so-brief moment I thought he was going to get up and get you.
Instead he called to you, “Show Mommy how you learned to climb out of your crib this weekend. Go on, show Mommy.”
I almost dropped dead right there on the spot.
“It’s so cute. Just watch how he gets out all by himself.”
Did your father not realize the importance of your daily afternoon nap for my sanity? The nap that you hate and fight tooth and nail to avoid everyday. The nap that you continue to take because you are trapped in a
cage crib and can not escape…
And so like any SANE parent, I jumped out of bed, screaming, “Are you crazy? No! No! NO CLIMBING!!!”
You didn’t climb out again for a awhile. And I was so happy. And so thankful that this was the one thing you decided to obey me on. Everything else I tell you not to do, color on walls, climb on the stove, throw balls at the windows, you promptly discard as unwanted advice.
Yesterday though, perhaps in celebration of turning the big T-W-O, you decided to climb out of your crib after I put you down for your nap. After you ransacked the room you grew bored and began banging on the door and crying. I heard nothing of it since I was downstairs revelling in my two hours unfettered by your whims, eating bon-bons, and drinking martinis. Okay, the bon-bon eating and martini drinking were in my head, and in reality I was supervising your sister with her watercolors, which is really only marginally better than dealing with your whims.
But I didn’t hear you. Your oldest brother was upstairs in his room and came to your rescue. When he brought you downstairs to me you were sobbing so hard that you could hardly catch your breath. The guilt was overwhelming. You wrapped your little arms around my neck and kept saying “Mama” over and over again. I carried you upstairs and laid down in my bed with you. Your body wrapped around mine. I rubbed your hair with my hand and kissed your chubby cheeks over and over again, while apologizing to you. You promptly fell asleep. But even in your sleep you kept shuddering with sobs, trying to catch your breath. And each time your body shook I felt like I was being stabbed in the heart.
After a little while I extricated myself from your clutches and tucked you in, building a fortress of pillows around you. I looked around the room for the first time and noticed all my books strewn about the floor, the dust jackets taken off and crumpled up like garbage, the clothes emptied out of the hamper, mixed with those pulled out of your drawers. There is a reason toddlers are so cute.
You love your older brothers and will frequently go to one of them if I reprimand you in anyway. You’ll grab them by their legs and yell, “mama bad boy” And yes, they will agree with you. Especially funny is how you have decided to call your 10 yr old brother “Joe.” His name in no way remembles “Joe” and yet you insist that is his name.
You have decided that you hate having your photograph taken. This means that I have lots of pictures of the back of your head this month. Taking photos for our Christmas card this year was a real battle of wills. You didn’t want to be in a picture until someone else was being photographed. Then you would run to get back into the picture. Where you would pose nicely until I brought my camera out. I also have quite a few photos of you screaming and everyone turning to look at you.
Gone are the days where I could do this, and you would just sit there, like your very first Christmas:
Going to see Santa this year should be a lot of fun and add to the side show feel we already bring with us wherever we all go.
This month you have decided to walk up and down the stairs like a big person. No more crawling or using your hands for you. Instead of turning around and going down the stairs backwards on your stomach, you walk down facing forward, your left hand just casually dragging along the wall. I can hardly stand to watch it, so sure I am the the next step will cause you to trip and fall down the wooden stairs and break your neck.
Your vocabulary has grown exponentially this month. You string words together in complicated sentences. By far my favorite is, “My yuh you” (I love you), though “I NEED CAKE!” is up there on the list. And when your father is watching a sporting event of some sort on television and you pause to watch and yell, “WHOA!” well, it cracks us up every single time. You don’t sit still, ever. You are constantly running around the house, screaming, laughing, and trying to be a big kid. Your giggling fills this house.
One of our Christmas traditions is to read every night by the light of the candles on our Advent wreath. You spend the entire time I am reading climbing onto the table and trying to blow the candles out. You are so serious about it and you puff your cheeks up so big, huffing and puffing to the point where we think you might hyperventilate. And so this year will be forever remembered as the Advent we spent pulling you back from the candles every other sentence. And laughing in between.
If that isn’t what good Christmas memories are made of, I don’t know what is.
People ask me all the time if I am having any more babies. I guess they haven’t gotten the memo. Usually I’ll look at you and then back at them and say, “I have achieved perfection. There’s nowhere to go from here.” And while it is something of a joke, I mean it. I have never won anything in my life. I have never been lucky. But somehow, inexplicably I have won the kid lottery.
Happy Birthday, baby.
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