A Painted House

Dear James: Month Nine

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: January 16, 2009

Dear James,

Today you turn nine months old.  Which means that you’ve been out in this world as long as you were inside doing that developing thing.  Well, except for those extra eleven days.  Have I mentioned those extra eleven days recently?  No?  Well then shouldn’t you be making mama some nachos right about now?  I often wonder if we hadn’t forced you to come out nine months ago, if you wouldn’t still be in there, sending out requests that could I please pass you your shape sorter?  And you’re ready for your oatmeal now, if I’ve got a minute.  And a long enough spoon.

You definitely operate on your own timetable, my James, when it comes to motor skills.  You show no interest in crawling, none whatsoever, though you do love to stand and walk across the room holding our hands.  But crawling?  No. That’s for babies. In fact, if we lay a toy out of your reach you’ll bend at the waist until your nose is touching the carpet, extend your little fingers as far as they’ll go above your head, and try to will the toy to meet you the rest of the way.  I’m here to tell you, James, that technique doesn’t work.  If I had a dime for every time I’ve stood outside in the driveway, faced the Taco Bell and tried with all my might to coax a chalupa my way…. Sometimes you just have to put forth the effort James.  The Cookie Monster stethoscope, like the double-decker taco, won’t just come to you.  But, I digress. You’ve just recently in your eighth month, started to flip over onto your belly each and every time we lay you down.  You’ve known how to do it for months but just weren’t in the mood prior to now. This has made naptime a challenge because ten minutes after laying you down I will come back to find you flipped over, arms and legs aloft, playing airplane in your crib.  Turns out one can’t sleep while piloting a commercial airliner.

You’re at that fun age where you’re starting to figure out that there’s more to your body than just those two fingers that must taste like a Twix bar, for all the time they spend in your mouth.  We’ve watched as you learn to ruffle your own hair, try out the flavors of your toes, and poke at your belly button.  In the last two weeks you’ve found another very important part of your body, perhaps the most important.  No not THAT, though I know it’s coming eventually and that yes, to you it will trump all of your other parts.  Boys.  No, you’ve found your BRAIN!  Yes, smarty pants that you are, you have managed to locate and poke at your brain via those tiny little access holes God provided in your face.  Wasn’t that thoughtful of Him?  The best part about it is that at your age you feel no shame.  So regardless if we’re in church, the grocery store, or conversing with your Daddy’s boss, you have no problem whatsoever smiling, giggling, and then shoving your finger as far up into the recesses of your nasal cavities as you can reach.  At which point we obviously begin discussing your bright future.

The new skill I love the most, and this is going to sound funny but bear with me, is your ability to cock your head to the side.  You’ve figured out that this world is not two-dimensional; there is more than one side, more than one angle to be seen.  This little act of craning your neck to see around things, over things, under the couch (no, I promise that colony of dust bunnies will not attack you in your sleep) is so stinkin’ cute that I have been forced to hand over yet another large chunk of my day to the task of Eating Your Face.  I used to maintain a fairly balanced schedule of work and play and Consuming James’ Cheeks, but now I’m afraid the sheer cuteness of it all has thrown things totally off balance.  I love that you’ve learned to literally see things from both sides because it’s served as a reminder to me, the kind of parent I aim to be.  I’m one who has always appreciated the rules, enjoyed the absolutes of can and cannot.  So much so, that I tend to see only the limits, the black and white, right and wrong.  And while I know that in your growing up there will be times where the rules stand firm, always when it comes to the things God has identified as sin, I want to also recognize that there is room for grace, James.  I want to always be willing to cock my head to the side, see things from your perspective, and consider that perhaps there’s more to be learned than just ‘Thou Shalt Not.’  Feel free to remind me of this James, in a respectful and polite manner lest Thou Shalt Have Thy Mouth Washed Out, when you’re sixteen and come home past curfew but it’s because on the ride home your friend wanted to know why you go to church and what’s the big deal about Jesus anyway? 

The absolute best part of this little head-turning skill of yours manifests at bedtime, when I’m rocking you and you lower your head onto my shoulder and relax into me.  I melt into a gooey puddle of Mama every single time, James.  It’s a wonder you haven’t yet hit the floor.  And I confess that I rock you a little longer than I used to, hoping that you’ll do it again.  I’m acutely aware that you’re growing up, James, and before I know it you’ll be too big to relax on my shoulder and drift off to sleep.  So for now you keep putting your head on my shoulder, I’ll keep rocking, and we’ll pretend that the big three-dimensional world outside your nursery doesn’t exist.



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