A Painted House

Dear James: Month Two

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: June 16, 2008

Dear James,

Today you turn two months old.  This past month you have changed and grown and hardly anything about you resembles the tiny, floppy, lump of snuggly baby you were four weeks ago.  Your little personality is just bursting out of that body, you smile and wiggle and even though you still love to cuddle, you spend most of the time trying to propel yourself over my shoulder and face-first onto the linoleum.  I have a feeling this is just the beginning of a relationship where I spend most of my energy trying to keep you from unflinchingly ramming yourself full-force into any hard surface you can find.

You’ve always loved your bouncy seat, the vibrating on your tush soothes your soul like a good bubble bath and a chalupa does for me.  To each their own, I say.  But lately sitting in your bouncy has upgraded from just pastime to sheer entertainment.  There are three figures that rotate around in a circle above your head, Pooh, Eeyore and Tigger, and you see them as your personal friends.  When I strap you in and wind the top you kick your legs and thrust your arms and gurgle like you’ve just entered the presence of celebrities.  Your favorite is Tigger, you unabashedly follow him with your eyes and each time he comes around to the front I swear your little rear leaves the seat, you’re so excited. My personal theory is that little rotating band of characters is your version of a NASCAR race and you know that if you just cheer a little harder, Tigger can win it all.

As of last week or so you’ve begun to show signs that you recognize your Dad and I as your parents, more than just The One With the Food and The One That Comes and Goes.  This is thrilling to us because in about 18 years, when it’s time to hand over $200,000 so you can go to college, it will be so much easier than if you still only thought of us as The One Who Watches Too Much Reality TV and The One Who Thinks Hanging Dead Animals on the Wall is a Decorating Style.  But, I digress.  Let me just tell you how warm and squishy feel I when you show your preference for me, when your eyes dart around the room to find me and follow me wherever I go, when you’re upset and no amount of others’ comforting helps until you’re back in my arms. Sometimes only Mama will do, and that fact is enough to melt all my insides.

You’ve also started to figure out that you can make noise aside from crying.  Every now and then your father and I will be eating dinner and we’ll hear a tiny voice call, ‘heeeeeey’ from where you’re lying on your quilt on the floor.  Without hesitation we both respond, ‘heeeeey’ back to you, grinning like idiots.  James, this is a pattern of behavior that will peak over the next year or so, but will continue until you enter adulthood.  We’ll speak words that aren’t real words and make funny sounds just to elicit a response from you.  I assure you, your parents will always be willing to make fools of themselves if it means communicating with you.  Keep that in mind when we try and use words we’re far too old and crusty to know, words that sound alarmingly like the noises we used to make when you were five months old, in order to get you to talk to us when you’re fifteen.

Of course there is a downside to your new vocal skills.  It means you have to go into the nursery at church on Sunday mornings lest your sudden outbursts get you labeled as a Pentecostal.  The first week I left you in there was really hard.  No, not on you, on me.  It was the first time I handed you over to someone I don’t really know and walked away.  A part of our church service is always spent in prayer, but I don’t think I’ve ever concentrated so much effort on talking to God during one service before, as I fervently requested that you not wake up and realize I wasn’t there.  To think that you’d look around for me and not be able to find me, that you’d think I had left you behind, it just about killed me. 

I assure you, James, I will never, ever leave you behind.  Never.  If we’re going to be separated, it’s going to have to be you who walks away when you’re good and ready and at least 25 years old.  And the reason is simple: I don’t think I could survive without you in my life; you’ve captured my heart, little boy.  Which is precisely why when you ask me at the age of five if you can ride your bike around the block, the answer will be a resounding NO.   See, the sidewalk over there is just much too hard and unforgiving and it’s my job to try and make sure you never unwillingly find out what it tastes like.



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