You are now nine months old, you busy boy, you with all your growing and changing and making me fall in love with you deeper than ever before. I'm writing this as you nap in your swing, your feet dangling by several inches, and I realize these days of your textbook babyness are growing short. If I could, I would slow these days and nights down, press the slow motion button on the Tivo remote (the one that you are in love with, and live to possess), and apply it to this waning time. You change as fast as I blink, it seems, and I love who you are becoming, but still. Slow down, dude. Mama can't go that fast anymore.
Here's the cold hard facts: you now have four teeth. The last one has finally broken through your gums, and so you are the proud possessor of two upper front teeth and the lower two front as well. Now that you're not struggling to get through the business of teething, you are a very fun guy. I didn't think that teething was a huge deal, necessarily, I got used to giving you Tylenol or Motrin as a "well, maybe this will work" when you got majorly cantakerous, but I do notice that you seem easier and happier with life. You are definitely sleeping better through the night, alas still in bed with Daddy and I, but we will take what progress we can get. Having four teeth means you have major chewing opportunities, and you like to practice with your new tiny tusks. You've never been one to go for teething rings or anything cold to soothe your gums, but you do quite enjoy chomping on me at any opportunity. Just now you were chewing on my elbow, like I am your favorite bacon flavored snack.
As for mobility, you are always on the move. You "cruise," as they say, with speed and efficiency, and have for what seems like forever, moving along the couch or bookshelves or whatever will be still enough for you to grab hold of. You cling to my legs now, immobilizing me, until I give in and pick you up, incorporating you into whatever it is I'm doing. Up and down you go, and sometimes you try to Army crawl under really low things, like rungs of chairs, and end up getting stuck. Today, I watched you put your head down and peer under the couch. Thankfully, you didn't decide to try to fit underneath, but I did go and fish out some lost toys, so I'm sure you consider that mission accomplished. You have no interest in walking, it seems, though you sometimes stand up and just barely hold on to something that stablilizes you. I am happy to enjoy these crawling days, and watch you increase your speed, as if you are competing for the baby Olympics.
You are definitely more interested in your toys. You play and play and keep yourself pretty occupied, even though you still love to yank books off the bookshelves and spelunk under the computer desk. When we're in the kitchen, I give you an old tin and immediately you turn it upside down and beat on the bottom, a little drummer boy. You also have a collection of spatulas and take great delight in them, so much so that I only have one or two left for myself. I bought you a table to play with, like they have at preschool, and for awhile I kept it in your nursery. You would spy it through the doorway and crawl from the living room like mad to go play with it. It sings and lights up and is happily plastic and only minorly obnoxious, but only because they sing the 123s to the tune of La Cucaracha, which means that I wander around humming stupid La Cucaracha to myself. Lately, you put your face down into the bowl on the table, all the better to experience those whizzing colors flashing, which I'm sure is just fabulous for your brain development, honey. You also love mirrors and put your face right up to them, smiling and curious. I don't know what you're thinking and fervently hope you're not developing a Narcissus complex - but I'm pretty sure you're just exploring your world. Often you leave wet patches on the mirror, and yes you are cute and who could blame you for trying to kiss yourself?
Just a week or so ago you began truly waving in earnest. The first time you actually waved, we were leaving church and your daddy was carrying you, the two of you walking a few feet in front of me. I waved at you, and it was like this waving concept clicked with you, so you waved back. Now you wave quite a bit, not really on command or at the appropriate time, and sometimes with BOTH hands flapping, like you can't contain yourself with this HELLO business, and also, HEY! Also very exciting: you point. You point at your daddy from across the room, you point at whatever it is you notice, it's all a big game to you. We're also very certain that you know "mama" and "dada" when you hear it said, if we say, "Where's Dada?" you look for him, and the same for Mama. I've learned to not even SAY "Where's Dada?" if your Dada isn't home, because you start to cry if you look around and can't find him.
Vocally, things are getting interesting. You are a kalediscope of sound. I love to hear you talk to yourself as you play, this funky baby monologue, your practice time with whatever you have heard that day. You screech with joy, especially when we are out for Thai, it seems. Your daddy taught you to do this hilarious thing, to turn the screeching into something manageable - he would strum your lip with his finger and eventually you started doing it yourself. You mimic us now, and sometimes you and I sound like drunken hoot owls, hooting and oohing back and forth at each other. Now it seems like you actually like for me to sing to you, whether it's for your entertainment while I'm cleaning up the kitchen, or a way to help you chill out before it's time for bed. It seems like I sing the ABCs a lot, it's always my default song to charm you out of a bad mood, or when you protest the indignity of having your diaper changed.
This past month or so, your Pop has been babysitting you on Thursdays afternoon while I go to work. It's been a really good thing, because now you know who he is, and he gets to hang out with you on your turf. He usually takes you on a walk, and a couple of weeks ago you two had quite an adventure. You encountered a big turtle, also taking a walk, and as it went on its way, it lumbered right by a snake! According to your Pop, that snake ran away as fast as he could! Then Pop decided that you would enjoy watching the turtle for a little longer, and he scooped it up and popped in the bottom of your stroller. When Daddy came home, he said the turtle was still there, in the flower bed, refusing to show itself. I get the biggest smile, when I think about your Pop walking along the road with both you and a turtle in the stroller. It just illustrates how deeply people love you, you lucky little boy, and the different ways that love shows itself.
Oh, and for the record, Lovie and Gramps now consider it their mission to bring you a very small alligator. Grandparents can be competitive like that, you know.
I take such joy in you. Truly, every day brings something new, and I luxuriate, when I remember to stay present and watch you explore and make big crashing noises and get into things you shouldn't, in all that you are and who you are becoming. I feel like we're not just mother and son, but friends, buddies together in this great big world. I don't know how such a incredibly awesome child as you found your way to us, but I'm grateful. Our little family of three is so beautiful and whole, and knowing that each day brings us closer to knowing you more and more seems like more goodness than I can handle. I'm happy that in a month, we'll have all summer to play and find new adventures. Oh, and also get back into the habit of napping together every afternoon.
There is so much love for you in my heart and soul, surely it must leak out of me when I walk, like love puddles, a trail of stars, small doses of magic that make this world as good as it can be.
Another tidbit to tide you over until I finally finish this dang letter. Here you have all the evidence you need that I'm a terrible parent, as I let my child get THAT close to the television. But I try to make up for that fact by letting him watch really cool, funny stuff, so it all evens out in the end.
See the video for yourself, and don't worry Mom and Dad, they're not really saying what you think they're saying.
This past weekend was Homecoming at my college, the one that I never visit, even though I still live in the same town. I chalk this up to the fact that leaving the safe confines of my beloved college was really hard for me, and I never wanted to be that sad person who just couldn't move on, physically speaking, even after I'd collected my diploma. There are those people, and I am too proud to be one of them. This may explain why it's taken me FIVE YEARS to attend a Homecoming. I know most colleges have Homecoming in the fall, but those colleges have football teams. And we don't. We have baseball, or so I hear, because I am not a baseball watching sort of gal. I think I went to a game ONCE in college, and that's probably because there was free food or maybe a cute boy. Most likely a cute boy.
But you know, there are many other reasons why we shy away from things like Homecoming, or reunion type things, aren't there? Reasons I personally shied from Homecoming: weight gain, no exciting professional life, not being married, no kids - you know, I just didn't relish the thought of going to say, "Well, I do watch quite a lot of TV. And go to church. Yep, and read books. Thanks for asking."
But this year, my dear friend Carrie had a reunion thing to sing at, and she suggested we haul our kids to a festival type activity on Friday, as well as visit all our old music professors. And I was game, if only because I have a cute kid now and feel like I can legitimately claim that I've accomplished something.
Friday came, full of hot muggy rain clouds that refused to rain until I was actually on my way to campus. Bella ended up staying home with her great-granny, and so I was the kooky mama with the big ass stroller and her child, in a building with two floors and no elevator. I ended up stashing the stroller in a practice room and hauling the child upstairs, where I listened to my old voice teacher give a lesson through her office door. Thomas cooed at a poster of Renee Fleming, while I entertained ghosts of College Past, dancing down the hallway by our music theory class. Everywhere I went was steeped in memory, and Thomas owes his very existence to certain corners where I slowly realized that I loved a certain boy with his guitar.
Carrie finally arrived, and we wandered and chatted with whoever we found, until our lovely voice teacher found her way to us. I tell you, within three minutes, she asked me, "Oh, won't you sing Batti, batti for us tomorrow night?" This woman doesn't waste precious time. Now, mind you, I haven't sung anything like that in years. Five years. It's been nearly a year since I left the sanctuary choir, the place where I at least looked at notes on a page once a week.
But because she has special powers that are still able to bend my brain into submission, I said yes. Then it was back up to her office, where we hoovered up each other's news and I restrained my son from pulling miles of sheet music off her shelves. The thing about singing REAL music is that you do need someone playing the piano for you or at least a track of your accompainment, and so my dear voice professor got all high geek on us and downloaded a track OFF THE INTERNET. She is golden, I tell you, and magic all rolled into one.
Next, in a plot twist that had you told me about that very morning I would not have believed you, I took myself and my son into a practice room and plunked out some notes. That is, I practiced. It's funny, how muscle memory kicks in. This is an aria that I sang my junior year, but I loved it and somehow, it's still a tiny part of me. While it took some pondering to remember exactly HOW to pronounce some of the Italian, with each round of practice, things came back. Of course, the runs were weak and rusty, but other than that? It wasn't so bad.
The next night, we sang, not in a fabulous hall or gallery or even a stage, but in the cafeteria next to the ice cream machine. It was a humble enough setting to diffuse any real performing anxiety. Still - Carrie went first, and the whole time I was thinking, "Crap! I have to sing next!" And of course when it was my turn, I totally screwed up but kept on singing. Believe it or not, nobody booed, or threw leftover Italian food at me.
Later on, Carrie and I discussed how that was the beauty of the thing: instead of focusing on how we couldn't do this as perfectly or as well as we used to, we went ahead and did it anyway. Our voice teacher was so pleased, and mentioned how much fun it was to have us sing not for a grade or for a recital (oh, the torture). We enjoyed ourselves, cheered each other on, and relished finding old friends made new, and then a few new ones as well. It was a really lovely weekend. It was good to be back where things were once so easy and yet so complicated, where we were on the cusp of where life begins, in earnest. We enjoyed so much of our days and nights there, and were nurtured and grown with love and incredible patience, bless our longsuffering professors. And while, on paper, what I've accomplished may not seem like much or translate into the standard definition of success, I realized that I'm exactly where I've always wanted to be.
On Saturday night, I fell over the baby gate in the kitchen and gashed my right hand. When I fell, I reached out and grabbed the edge of the counter, which isn't sharp by any means, but somehow I - oh so talented - found a sharp angle. I was bleary with sleep, and kept saying "ouch ouch" so that Beaux - who was holding the baby, by the way, the babbling, wide awake at 3 a.m. baby - would come check on me. After running my wound under cold water, and soaking through a washcloth, I got myself bandaged up and wrestled Thomas back to bed. Nobody went back to sleep until around 4 or later. The next morning there was blood on the sheets, blood on my pillow, on the baby's onesie - not quite a murder scene, but mildly disconcerting.
I am now grounded from getting up in the middle of the night for water, according to Beaux.
Since then, keeping up my band aids is practically a full time job. As you can see in the picture, I have to cover a weird place, at the crook of my thumb. And it's not so much a cut, but a gaping hole, since I managed to rip skin away from my hand. I'm mildly obsessed with keeping my oozing wound clean, because I don't want to join the staph infection parade or anything. The band aids I had at home were not adequate, and after making do with kiddie ones from preschool and even one from the doctor's office (not that I went to the doctor for a band aid, but for womanly issues, as they say) where you would think they have the highest quality band-aids, but no - I went shopping. I came out with TWO boxes, surely enough to cover my needs, with athletic strips and special knuckle and joint flex and even some waterproof ones thrown in for good measure. I can't do with less than two band aids at any one time, and am searching for the perfect combination. The current one pictured is pretty dang good, whatwith two athletic strips that mean serious business, in band aid world.
I can't believe I've blogged about band aids, but I am seriously preoccupied with them, as you can tell.
In other news:
Thomas says: I hear that you should never put Baby in a corner, but you can definitely stick some Cute in a Box.
So, it's not like I plan on posting around here once a week, it's just been unexpectedly busy. Or something. This picture is from the weekend, where we trucked the Kid to an outdoor festival to catch some groovy zydeco music. I don't know what's more fun, listening to the music or watching all the kooky hippies dance.
Thomas smelled like sunscreen for the rest of the day. Such a good smell.
More later, I promise. Tonight I'm going shopping here with Carrie. Hooray!