A Painted House

Dear James: Month Seventeen

Posted on: January 6, 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: September 17, 2009

Dear James,

Yesterday you turned seventeen months old.  This month has passed so quickly that I have to take a minute and remember what has happened since your last letter.  We made another trip out to Grandma and Grandpa Pierce’s for a long Labor Day weekend and Grandma and Grandpa Casper and Uncle Brad came to visit you last weekend.  And in between I’ve been doing my best to keep you from running off every last calorie you’ve ever consumed and disappearing in a poof right before my eyes.  You’re busy, James.  Busier than any kid I’ve ever known and when we’re out among people I am often asked, ‘He’s more relaxed when you’re at home, right?’  No James, you’re not.  You’re always busy, always curious, always moving.  I often wonder if The Flight of the Bumblebee is playing on repeat in your head and you’re just desperately trying to keep time.

When we’re at home I let you go about your business, knowing that we’ve child-proofed the important things and while you may unroll a pile of toilet paper, transport my shoes from room to room, rearrange the contents of the kitchen cabinets, steal the computer mouse or try to dismantle your CD player, none of those things will bring you harm. I check in on you every few minutes, especially if your unnatural quiet sets off my Parental Alarm System, indicating that you’ve likely found contraband and are at this moment stealing every blessed second you can with the most desired of possessions – the Windex bottle.  But I know that should you find yourself in an unsavory situation, like say, stuck between the bed and the wall trying to reach Daddy’s alarm clock, you’ll let me know. 

Lately I can keep track of your from room to room because you’ve found your words.  Oh, how I love to hear that little voice narrate everything in a steady stream of babble punctuated by a few recognizable words. The words you can say include Daddy, Mama, ducky, hi, light, slide, stand, bath, ball, monkey, fishy, and outside.  That last one isn’t so much as said, as demanded.  You often hand me your shoes and yell, “SIDE!” in hopes that I’ll heed your subtle request to venture outdoors.  And should you catch a glimpse of an open door, someone going out without you, oh the agony.  The wailing and gnashing of teeth.  So great is your disappointment at having been denied a trip to the driveway that I think seismographs in California might register it as distant earthquakes in the general region of Northern Indiana.

Equally as great as that disappointment is your elation at spotting and pointing out a light. A light! It’s a light!  Do you see it?  IT’S A LIGHT!!!  You’ve become remarkably adept at recognizing lights in all forms – overhead lights, night lights, street lights, porch lights, the sun and stars, even illustrations in books.  We were reading Goodnight Moon and each time we turned the page to the picture of the nursery you pointed to the drawing of the fire in the fireplace and said, “It’s a light!”  That your little mind had recognized a line drawing of a fire, the concept of which you were only recently introduced via the charcoal grill, and understood that that 2D drawing of flame was the same as the dancing fire you cannot touch but have correctly labeled as a source of light…..well, my jaw dropped wide enough to encompass a Ford Taurus.  You amaze me, kid.

James, I love to hear your voice. Your Dad and I have waited a long time to hear you begin to label the world around you.  We encourage you to try new sounds and say new things, coaxing as much verbal dexterity as we can from you.  Each morning I go in to get you out of bed and you greet me with sixteen paragraphs worth of words you’ve stored up overnight.  Someday I might even understand them.  At night we lay you down and you chatter us out of the room, trying to fit in a few more thoughts about duckies and baths before sleep overcomes.  And on mornings like this one, when your Dad has been away at work since yesterday, you eagerly round every corner calling for him by name and I assure you that Daddy will be home later today, I promise. 

If there’s one thing about speaking I will try to impress upon you as you grow into an adult, James, it’s to speak wisely.  One of the many things I love about your Dad is his way of speaking in measured, thought-out words.  Your Dad isn’t one of those quiet, stoney types, he definitely has plenty to share, but when he speaks it’s to say something not just fill the quiet.  In this way as in so many others, aim to be like Daddy, James, because he aims to be like Jesus.  Ecclesiastes says, “Words from a wise man’s mouth are gracious but a fool is consumed by his own lips.  At the beginning his words are folly; at the end they are wicked madness – and the fool multiplies words.”  Use your words to uplift, not tear down.  To reason, not to rage.  Tell the world about the hope of Jesus, not the hopelessness of self-reliance.  Think first then speak and the world is more likely to hear.  But no matter what it is that you have to say, I will always, always, always listen.

Love, Mama

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