A Painted House

Dear James: Month Sixteen

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: August 19, 2009

Dear James,

A few days ago you turned sixteen months old.  This month’s letter is a bit late because on your sixteen month birthday we were on vacation, far away from home, computers and civilization in general.  We went on vacation with Grandma and Grandpa Pierce, Auntie Amy, Uncle Derrick, and even managed to squeeze in some time with Aunt Allison and Uncle Josh.  Kid, over the course of last week you were loved on and catered to and played with, squeezed and chased and kissed within an inch of your little life.  You thoroughly enjoyed waking up from your nap to a crowd of people eagerly greeting you, loved finding someone around every corner who wanted to play with you, openly embraced having that many more people with whom you could share the thrilling news that there was, in fact, a ceiling fan up there. When someone walks into the room your first instinct is not to run to them, shout a greeting, wave your arms.  First, before any of those things can take place, you make sure they are aware that they once again, stand in the presence of a ceiling fan.  You’re all, “Hi. Look up please, and acknowledge the ceiling fan. Which, by the way, goes round and round, the noblest of acts. Ok, now you may give me a hug.”  Either that or we’re sorely mistaken about your priorities and you’re actually the world’s youngest evangelist, with all the pointing Heavenward.

The lake house where we spent our week of vacation was far away from here, encompassing about twenty-two hours in the car round trip.  You’ve always been a decent traveler James, nightmarish air travel incidents not withstanding, but this many hours in your car seat in one week’s time was more than we’d previously attempted.  I’m thrilled to report that you handled the trip like a champion; hardly any whining, sleeping for decent stretches of time when it was naptime, eating at travel plazas and rest stops.  And though I’d love to take credit for your stellar behavior, I’m afraid it doesn’t belong to me.  Your near perfect travel etiquette is solely a bi-product of The Magic CDs.  A few months ago I found a website where I could download 150 children’s songs for a grand total of $.99.  A better dollar has never been spent, James, because at the first hint of car time crankiness we pop the CDs in and those annoying little voices singing The Ants Go Marching and The Muffin Man soothes your soul like a balm in Gilead (I’ll take Obscure Baptist References for 1000 please, Alex).  After the first thirty minutes your parents might be arguing over who gets to jam the windshield wipers in their ears, but by golly you’re as happy as can be.   As a bonus, your Dad and I can now sing all 150 songs in their entirety including Waltzing Matilda, The Flee Fly Song and my personal favorite, Weenie Man.  I guess really it’s true that children give more than they take.

Have I mentioned that your Dad and I tend to live….um, frugally?  We’re cheap, James, and trying to find ways to save a little money on the unimportant things is hobby we both enjoy.  It’s why we’ll probably die slow deaths via paper cuts from living surrounded by Savings Account statements, and without ever having purchased Cable TV despite my crush on HGTV and your Dad’s faithful pining for the History Channel.  So this month when you needed another haircut, we thought perhaps we could save the regular expense and do it ourselves.  After all, your Dad has been cutting his own hair for years and I have a fairly steady hand with scissors.  How hard could it be, right?  James, someday we’ll show you one of those rodeo programs where the cowboys try and chase down an apparently rabid sheep, sit on it, and hold it still long enough to tie it up.  Because replace the cowboy with your Dad waving hair clippers and add in a lot more righteous indignation on the part of the sheep, and you’ve got a pretty accurate picture.  Even after Dad managed to run the clippers over your entire head, I had to try to trim your sideburns, bangs, and around your neck.  The irony was not lost on me that I was literally chasing you around the house with scissors which in a few years will be a punishable offense of the highest order. By the time we gave up you looked just a bit like that forlorn sheep, sheared and slightly uneven in places and jerking away from any sudden movements lest we jump out from around the corner and try cut your ears off again.  We’ve learned over time, James, that some things in life are worth paying a little more for; chocolate, bed sheets, jeans, coffee.  We’ve now made the executive decision that for the time being your haircuts are one of those things, lest you have to go through life with only one ear lobe.

James, I’ve noticed this month that you’re turning into a real boy.  Not in a Pinocchio, you-were-previously-made-of-play-doh-and-bendy-straws kind of way, but in the sense that you’re no longer a baby in any way.  You don’t want to rock before bed, when you’re thirsty you get yourself a drink, and you refuse to hold my hand, preferring independence.  You also seem to constantly sport several hard-earned bruises and scrapes. (Incidentally, your coolest boo boo came from falling head-first into the corner of the kitchen cabinet which left a wicked lightning-bolt shaped bruise on your forehead.  After I got over being concerned and calling your Dad to make sure I shouldn’t be high-tailing you to the hospital and checking you for a concussion and retina damage, I was able to appreciate your stellar Harry Potter imitation.)  As I’m typing this you’re sitting on the living room floor, all long legs and big boy haircut and concentrated expression complete with protruding tongue, trying to smash your trucks together in a head-on collision.  I often catch a glimpse of you out of the corner of my eye and wonder who replaced my baby boy with this grownup kid who climbs and runs and is growing at a rate that’s almost visible to the eye?  And then you fall over your own feet or misjudge a step and run to me with your arms reaching up for comfort and I think, ok, maybe we’ve still got time.

Love, Mama


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