A Painted House

Dear James: Month Ten

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: February 16, 2009

Dear James,

Today you turn ten months old, your first double-digit month. Apparently you didn’t get the memo that such growing up is entirely not allowed, that in many ways Mama is not ready; I’ll have a word with your secretary.  And you are growing up James, you’ve shown more signs and developed more skills this month than all the other months combined.  You prefer standing to sitting and are on the verge of intentionally letting go and balancing on your own two feet. At times you push off accidentally and in that split-second before you topple over your eyes shoot to mine and your expression is a perfect mix of ‘Look at me!’ and ‘I hope I’m wearing a clean diaper because this is how I’m going to die and it would be so embarrassing if the paramedics found me with a dirty bum.’

As soon as we pull you upright your feet start moving, anxious to propel you anywhere we’ll take you.  You want so badly to be mobile, able to follow us from room to room, and should we leave you behind we’ll often hear an indignant ‘HEY!’ calling us back.  Yes, your verbal skills are expanding too, though we still haven’t had the pleasure of hearing ‘mama’ or ‘dada’ despite repeating those syllables to you several hundred times per day.  You are trying out new sounds, though, squealing like a dolphin and punctuating many of our conversations with a hearty ‘Yeah!’ in agreement.  We take advantage of the fact that you can’t yet dissent and ask you things like, ‘James, is Mama pretty?’ and ‘James, would you like to eat something for lunch that smells like feet?’ 

Speaking of growing, I think it’s time we address your hair.  You were born with a full head of hair and then followed the steps of your father and his fathers before him, in losing it rapidly and without warning.  However it didn’t take long for crop number two to appear and this time, James, there’s no stopping it.  You have a lot of hair, James, and quite like those troll dolls that were all the rage in the early nineties, it is stick-straight and defies gravity in the most astonishing ways. I’m quite convinced that if we let it go on unsupervised, your hair could actually outstrip you in height and save me the cumbersome task of actually dusting the ceiling fan.  We’ve discussed giving you your first haircut but thinking through the logistics of trimming your bangs or sideburns all the while avoiding any eye poking or accidental ear piercing makes me break out in hives.  So for now we let it go, let it reach toward the sky and just tell ourselves that your hair is praisin’ Jesus, and who are we to intervene?

You’re not completely about growth and progress, though James.  In the area of food you’re comfortable right where you are, eating oatmeal, yogurt, disgusting concoctions of baby food from a jar, and little else.  We started offering you little bits of big people food this month, things like bananas, mashed potatoes, and muffins, to see how you’d react to new tastes and textures.  And not one to hide your feelings, you reacted with passion; every time something new touched your tongue you promptly gagged and then threw it up along with the entire contents of your stomach for good measure.  You’d then look up at us like, ‘How could you do this to me?  Bananas? PIECES OF BANANAS? What were you thinking?  You could have KILLED me!’ Never mind that you eat whipped banana paste from a jar at least twice a week, those cut up pieces half the size of a pencil eraser might as well have been poison.  The one thing you have taken to is chocolate pudding.  I offered you a small taste and your mouth opened up like a baby bird, begging for more.  But I think that has little to do with your food progression and much to do with being human. Let this be a lesson to you my son: all people are born with several things in common.  We’re made in the image of God, we inherit a sin nature, we’re social beings in need of companionship, and we love chocolate pudding.  It’s in the Bible, I’m sure of it.

I have a hard time comprehending that there are only two months left of your first year of life.  And while seeing you grow does make me a little wistful about the days when you were still just a baby, I’m also so enjoying watching you learn and develop and take on this little part of the world that is yours.  I can’t wait to watch you walk around the back yard, ride your scooter up and down the sidewalk, show you how to pick ripe tomatoes and pull your eager little hands away from the green ones.  Your little body has no memory of last summer’s walks in the sunshine or watching our garden grow.  As far as you’re concerned your whole world is contained in this little house and you stare with apt curiosity at the street outside our front door.  I so look forward to showing you what’s out there on the other side of those big picture windows covered in your fingerprints.  I like to think that by the time the birds come back and the grass grows tall and the sun shines bright in the mornings, you’ll be ready to hold my hand and go touch and taste and smell it all.  Who knows, maybe the taste of grass and earthworms won’t make you throw up?  And if it does, I’ll get you cleaned up and we’ll be on our way.  After all, I’ve had some practice.

Love, Mama

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