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Amazing – A Letter to My Son on His Birthday

Dear T –

What a difference a year makes!  You turned two today and greeted me, as usual, with a smile and a “Hey!”  I lifted you out of your crib with the realization that this time next year you will more than likely be in your big-boy bed and the hope it would be the only change to our morning routine.  We headed downstairs and I recalled, as you asked for milk and jumped on the couch and helped open your gifts and tried to stick your entire face into your cake (yes, for breakfast!) that this time last year you had just taken your first solo steps.  When we spent the afternoon at the National Zoo, you pointed to and named the animals and it reminded me that age one you fell asleep every night with your giraffe.  And tonight, when I tucked you in and you blew me a kiss for the very first time – well, that was just perfect.

Heaven blew every trumpet and played every horn, on the wonderful, marvelous night you were born. - Nancy Tillman

Heaven blew every trumpet and played every horn, on the wonderful, marvelous night you were born. – Nancy Tillman

For you each day is an adventure! You took your first steps in the days before you turned one and have been non-stop action since.  You’ve learned to jump, climb, and run, and scared the crap out of your father a few weeks ago when he found you half-way up a 6′ ladder.You smile and say hello to people we pass on the way to the market, ask “what’s that?” or “hear that?” a thousand times a day, and your eyes light up when we head to the park or the zoo or even somewhere new. And it is so exciting to see you running around the playground, making friends and kicking the ball around. You are curious and inquisitive and do not shy from new experiences, and I hope you never lose your sense of wonder.

You already have quite a way with words. Most mornings your Daddy and I wake up hearing you talking or reading to yourself, and with the exception of nap time it’s pretty much non-stop until bedtime. You started using your signs asking for “more” borsch (of all things!) in July; since then you’ve learned hundreds of signs and words and each day it seems you know a few more. You have questions for EVERYTHING, usually more than one, and there are days when I am grateful for the silence when you’ve fallen asleep. But I would not trade it for anything else, and I pray you retain your excitement for language.

And perhaps most incredible is that, at the age of two, you are the first to notice if someone is upset, or sad, or hurt, and ask “you ‘tay?” and offer a hug or a hand on the arm. I don’t know where you learned that compassion, but my wish for you is that you never lose it.

You’ve accomplished so much in the days since you turned one and are, in a word, amazing.  I say that knowing, if you ever read this, you will be horrified and embarrassed and may go so far as to deny me as your mother.  But it’s true, so there it is.

Happy birthday, my sweet peanut. I look forward to seeing what the next year will bring.

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Posted by on February 28, 2013 in Remember

 

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Social Graces

It’s come to my attention that T may need some help meeting kids his own age.  He’s very social, always attentive to what’s going on around him, makes eye contact, and can hold his own in “conversation.”  We never really worried about finding playmates because we bring him with us almost everywhere and he’s exposed to a diverse network of people, places and events.  Then a few weeks ago I caught him running to the door “wo-wo”ing in unison with our barking dogs when Daddy came home.  A few days later I noticed him playing tug-of-war with a stuffed animal dog-style, shaking it around in his teeth.  At this rate, the first day of kindergarten will be filled with some pretty embarrassing questions.

As if the pressure to find playmates for T were not enough, my husband has made comments in recent weeks about his shrinking circle of friends.  To be clear, my husband’s list of “friends” includes nearly everyone he’s met since he was in high school, if not before, so I’m taking his complaints to mean he doesn’t spend enough time with them, rather than the number is actually dwindling.  That said, his gripes are not without merit.  I think most people go through a transition of friends when they become a couple; some are lost, some are gained, and couples tend to spend more time with other couples that are a good match for their own relationship and personalities.  When the status changes from “couple” to “parents,” our experience has been that the social transformation is both immediate and stark.  Afternoon happy hours now require a delicate dance of “who will stay home with the baby?”  Dinner or brunch with an infant is distracting, for lack of a better word.  And carefree nights out, once so common, now require strategic planning akin to scheduling security detail for a Presidential trip to the Middle East.  Couples are fluid, integrating in and out of social life seamlessly.  “Couples plus” are more like a hangnail in their otherwise childless social circle, tolerated but requiring that much more attention, courtesy and accommodation to be a nuisance.  Unfortunately DH and I know few people with kids, and even fewer (okay, none) with kids near the age of ours.

All of this, sadly, has left our little family kind of lonely.  Well maybe not so much lonely as sick of each other and in search of someone else with whom to talk and spend time.  We live in a family-friendly neighborhood and, at least based on demographic information and the posts to the local mommy listserv to which I belong, the place is crawling with kids.  How to meet them is a different matter.  I remember when I first brought home my dog, Oscar, feeling like the neighborhood opened up to me; constant puppy potty breaks tend to reveal all manner of early birds, night owls, bar crawlers, church goers, athletic types, and fellow pet owners.  Unfortunately, outside dog-walking, much of the daily pattern of urban family life seems to remain more indoors than out.  Sure, I can tell you what time the mom down the street arrives home with her youngest child in tow, but they disappear so quickly into the confines of their rowhouse that I’m left wondering if it was really just a mirage, a figment of my imagination brought on by the desperate need for companionship.

So I did what any city-living mom would do – I stooped.  As in, parked on the front stoop with a glass of wine, tossed some toys out on the sidewalk, and let T have at it.  This plan is brilliant in its simplicity, I assure you.  For one, there is an open window in which to scope out who is coming and going, and which of those may be people you want for your team.  Two, the sidewalk is now your hostage, and potential passers-by have two choices – break ranks and retreat to the other side of the street and the safety of a childless sidewalk, or a direct attack through the middle of your compound.  The retreaters are now on notice that this is a Child Zone and to enter at their own risk.  Third, and most importantly, you’ve created a minefield of toys and people (and sometimes dogs) which forces people to slow down as they pass.  This gains precious time in which to attempt to captivate  these unwitting pedestrians with witty banter and a few flashes of T’s four-toothed grin. 

It’s a bit early to tell, but I think my plan is working.  Sure, we occasionally notice that someone with whom we shared a few laughs now crosses the street as they turn the corner.  But more often than not the same people walk by and stop to chat.  The other day while chatting with the parents who have a little girl, we simultaneously stopped talked when we heard the unmistakable sound of two toddlers howling at the fire engine coming by, sirens blaring.  Her parents may have their own embarrassing questions to answer when she heads to school, but I’m going to mark that as the day T made his first friend.

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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The Bucket List

I’ve been keeping a “bucket list” for as long as I can remember.  I’ve managed to cross off some items but it tends to accumulate new ones even faster, and at this point it’s beginning to take on a life of its own.  There are times when I actively select an item from my BL to check off but more often than not I’ve just been in the right place at the right time or jumped at the chance to say “yes” to an opportunity.

Like so many things in my life, the BL has taken a backseat since my son was born.  Most days it’s hard enough to get up and out the door on time, let alone find a few spare minutes to skydive or try out for Wheel of Fortune.  DH and I did recently renew our vow to visit every major league baseball stadium, but these days the most important items on my list include getting home in time to tuck T into bed or finding a way for us to all sit down to dinner together.  Someday I’ll go on safari in Africa; for now I’m content that the items on the top of the list include Be There for T’s Firsts – and First of Manys.

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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