A Painted House

Dear James: Month Eight

Posted on: January 5, 2011

Note:  Readers from my former blog will be familiar with the monthly letters I write to my babies for the first two years of their lives.   As each new letter will be posted here I will be moving over all previous letters to my archives for continuity.  Thanks for your patience as I work on all this administrative stuff!

Original post date: December 16, 2008

Dear James,

Today you turn eight months old.  Your eight month birthday arrives the week before Christmas, a day I’m anticipating more this year than any other since I was a child.  Between your aunts and uncles, grandparents, your Dad and I, a nice pile of gifts bearing your name has accumulated under our tree.  I absolutely cannot wait to see your excitement when we show you your new things, to help you discover how your toys work, to fish the mushy wrapping paper remnants out of your mouth.  In fact, I’m making a mental note to ask Google how much wrapping paper a baby can consume before he starts delivering gift-wrapped diapers.  I’d assume at least a whole roll, in which case we’re probably fine.  Should you provide a bow on top, then I’ll start to feel a little concerned.

Part of the reason Christmas will be so fun this year is because of your capacity to show excitement, joy, and enthusiasm.  When you get excited about something you fling your body straight up in the air, push off with your feet, lunge forward with both hands, and let out a throaty, menacing growl as you pounce on the object of your affection.  And then you proceed to drown whatever has pleased you so, in spit.  As opposed to when you’re unhappy about something, in which case you squeal in a way reminiscent of an irritated teapot.  You are a man of emotional extremes, James.  Your joy scares the paint right off your toys and your discontent could crack glass.

One thing you’re completely in love with is my laptop computer.  Gone are the days when you would sit contentedly on my lap as I browsed the Internet, happy to watch the pretty pictures go by.  Now, as with everything else in life, you want to taste the pictures.  E-mail, weather, news, shopping – it doesn’t matter what I’m viewing, you really, really, really want to fit it inside those very edible cheeks.  And since you know, I’ll ask – how does People.com taste?  I’d imagine plastic-y.  What amazes me is how easily you accept what I assume are the different and unique flavors of the couch cushions, my socks, and the Christmas tree.  And yet almost every time we attempt a new flavor of actual, real, meant-to-be-consumed-by-babies food, you gag at the new taste and immediately throw up the entire contents of your stomach.  On the second attempt of each flavor you do just fine, welcoming more and more and more with your baby bird-like mouth.  But that first time?  We had better be ready because mmm, mmmm, yummy……nope, here it comes!  I sincerely hope this is a phase which passes because it’s going to be embarrassing over the years if every time we try a new restaurant or have dinner at someone’s house, I have to place an empty bowl on your lap.

I’ve discovered that much of motherhood is dealing with the moment, James.  Making faces at you in the grocery store when you’re tired and cranky, taking advantage of when you’re giggly to tickle you into peals of laughter, keeping your hands occupied so that your mouth is empty for eating, comforting you when you bump your head or pinch your finger.  And you’ve challenged me to think on my feet, find a solution to our situation, make farting noises with my mouth because you think it’s hilarious and thus, stop crying long enough to realize that you’re not melting just because I am wiping your face.  Or, in one of our most challenging moments thus far, when you get a catch in your throat and throw up an entire jar of apricots in the backseat of your great-grandparents’ car while we’re driving 60 miles per hour in Chicago traffic.  Huh.  Turns out you deal with that using a plastic bib, baby wipes, napkins, and an unused diaper. We didn’t even get any on the seats.  And yes, I realize that two thirds of this letter thus far has been about puke. You’re going to think that’s totally awesome when you’re six. 

I find it hard to believe, baby boy, that one year ago your presence in our lives was limited to the bump stretching against the front half of my shirts.  Did you know that the first time your grandparents were able to feel you kick was Christmas Eve?  And this year here you are, flinging yourself into my arms and through life with gusto, mouth wide open wanting to experience everything up close.  Next week we’ll tell you the story about how it all began, back when Someone small like you was born in a town called Bethlehem because thousands of years later, you and I would need Him to save us.  I pray for you, James, that you will grow up to feel the same about God as you currently do about remote controls; you simply cannot examine it enough, aren’t close enough, can’t taste enough to satisfy your curiosity.  To look back someday and know that I raised my son to love The Son will be far greater than every moment making you laugh, snuggling you close, eating my fill of those chubby cheeks, or scrubbing apricots out of car seats.

Love, Mama

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