A Painted House

Dear James: Month Twenty-Two

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: February 18, 2010

Dear James,

A couple of days ago you turned 22 months old.  And in many ways this has not been an enjoyable month.  Not at all due to your age, in fact every new month seems to bring out a new little facet of your personality that leaves your Dad and I shaking with laughter or shooting each other sentimental glances over your head.  This month has just been plagued with sickness, even more so than the last, and so when I look back on it my largest memory is of holding a feverish and wimpering you as you shifted and struggled to get comfortable in any way.  You had a nasty bout with RSV, a respiratory virus that left you coughing and gagging, unwilling to eat and unable to drop into uninterrupted sleep.  And no sooner did you start to feel better than I came down with a stomach virus that put me flat on my back.  But as of today we’re virus-free and feeling good and life, like the sky outside, finally, finally looks a little sunnier.  So let’s move on, because frankly I think reliving those weeks of misery is making me all twitchy.

Your Dad is immersed in his last weeks of being overworked on call at the hospital so you and I have spent a LOT of time together this month, just the two of us.  It thrills me that for the most part, you don’t seem to have grown sick of my company yet.  You always want to be where I am, see what I’m doing, touch what I touch.  You’re my constant companion, James, ever curious and eager to narrate our days as we go.  You’ve learned the concept of helping and anytime you see me trying to accomplish a task you try and try to find a way to get in on the action.  When I’m dusting you grab any cloth you can find and dust with me, when I’m sweeping you wriggle in to hold the broom too, and should I be loading the clothes washer I better keep a diligent eye on what else might be added to the load because you’ll pick up anything in reach and toss it in. And though I’m sure my tupperware, your blocks, and various canned goods could all use a good scrubbing, I’m not sure that our clothes need to be washed with a can of tomato paste.

Oh, are you going to miss the canned goods cabinet when we move.  Right now our house doesn’t have a pantry so the biggest lower cabinet in our kitchen is where I store all nonperishable food items.  You absolutely love playing in that cabinet, stacking and rearranging the cans.  Often you’ll pull them out one or two at a time and run them into the living room.  Thirty minutes and twenty trips later you’ve created for yourself a little grocery store of teetering canned goods, stacked one on the other until to your delight, they come crashing down.  (And yes, we’ve had more than one toe-squashing incident when a particularly dense can landed on your tootsies.  Much crying ensued and we thought you might learn the lesson not to stack them so high.  But no.)  So we’ve added grocery stockboy to your list of potential careers.  We figure with your penchant for sweeping, dusting, and stacking we might someday be the proud parents of the Kroger Employee of the Month.  Be sure to get Mama a bumper sticker.

James, you are such an obedient child.  Several times in the last months we’ve left you with friends for a couple of hours while your Dad and I breeze through many potential houses at a much quicker pace than if we were buckling you in and out and keeping you from shoplifting from strangers’ homes.  You love to play at friends’ houses and with other people your size, and most of the time don’t even look up when we arrive to retrieve you.  And the thing I love to hear the most when we pick you up is how good you behaved.  You’re polite, saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, ceasing to do things when you’re told not to, and coming when called.  We’ve worked so hard on raising you to be a respectful, obedient, joyful child that to hear from others how well you’re doing makes my heart swell.   I’m probably daring God to prove me wrong, but I honestly can’t remember the last time you threw a tantrum.   Not that you don’t have a defiant nature at times; your little sin nature shows through loud and clear now and again.   One of the funnier parts of raising a toddler is how clearly your thought process is written across your face.  Often when we tell you to do something, to come here for example, you tilt your chin back, raise your eyes to the ceiling and very visibly consider whether you will obey.  And should you be leaning toward ‘no’, you enact several techniques to draw our attention away from that fact.  First, you act cute; smile and bat your eyes and do a little dance.  When that doesn’t work you switch to diversion tactics.  “Look, a light!”  Nice try, dude.  Your parents may be getting old, but you have a long wait before we’re senile enough that a lightbulb will prove so distracting that we let you run around naked in February.

Love, Mama

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