My dear sweet Baby Beluga,
You are a colossal eight months old. This past month has brought changes and advancements so massive they can hardly fit into my addled brain — like, for starters, your new nickname isn’t about your size as much as it’s about your constant movement. But I’m getting ahead of myself here.
First of all. Your visual acuity, hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity have gotten so good, so quickly, that it is almost impossible for us to keep up with your never-ending quest for asphyxiation. Here is but an abbreviated list of things that you have picked up with your chubby little thumb and forefinger, and shoved into your yap:
- Cheerios (you choke on every fifth Cheerio, but apparently that is “normal” and I have only overreacted and baby-Heimlich’d you four or five times to date)
- bits of banana, avocado, melon, pancake, tofu, rice and various and sundry other food items
- every single toy you own
- every single book you own (RIP Pat the Bunny, but you were some seriously white heteronormative bullshit anyway)
- every remote control in this house
- every electrical cord in this house (kidding, but NOT FOR LACK OF TRYING)
- every kitchen utensil and tupperware container in this house
- every menu of every restaurant you’ve graced with your presence (usually the waitstaff is amused, but some have been a li’l short with us)
- all of your parents’ major and minor limbs
- leaves, dead and alive
- giant handfuls of dirt and grass
- tiny single blades of grass you have somehow managed to hone in on, pick AND then stuff into your mouth
- Kombucha bottles
- literally anything you can get your chunky little mitts on. Every day I say a silent prayer of thanks that you haven’t managed to find a cigarette butt yet — or, given that this is Oregon, a joint or some meth.
Sometimes it looks like you’ve gnawing on everything to file your teeth down, like some sort of bunny rabbit. Which I suppose only makes sense, since you’ve now got all four central incisors and look not unlike a bunny rabbit — although, given the size of the gap between your two front chompers, a bunny rabbit with a curious resemblance to former NFL player and current television personality Michael Strahan.
You still enjoy restaurants, but you are now a tad bit harder to placate for the duration of an adult meal; often you will demand to be sprung from your high chair (sometimes a high chair that can barely contain you), and lately you’ve even had a few turns sitting in a booster seat like a big-big (and, given, I suppose, that you are an eight-month-old big-big, it only makes sense). Generally the restaurant protocol is that your father and I take turns circulating out the nine hundred toys I’ve brought with me, and then when you’ve thrown them all on the floor we move on to the books, and then we move on to letting you sample the food when it arrives (with mixed results; there was a bit of an incident with a massive amount of soft tofu that ended up on the ground at Ta Ra Rin, the best Thai restaurant in the country/world/cosmos outside of Thailand, and, also, unrelatedly, who carpets a restaurant? Why would you ever do that? Where’s Gordon Ramsay when I need him?). We’re still a far cry from enjoying a relaxing meal out, and I generally opt out of any place that isn’t explicitly family-friendly and won’t go in any group larger than four adults, but neither you nor I have had a breakdown in a restaurant yet.
I’ve also become the master of the standing-up diapey change, since you act like you’re being flayed alive if I lay you down on a changing table in public. By “master” I mean that somehow I manage to affix the new diaper onto you so that it halfway covers the important bits for exactly the duration of the car ride back home.
Speaking of you acting like you’re being flayed. Let’s have a little talk about diapey changes at night, my friend.
*****WARNING: If you think that being a mother invalidates the remotest mention of something about the children-having process being less than a Pinterest-vomit tornado, don’t read this next bit. It will greatly offend your fragile disposition.********
I don’t know if it’s the massive cognitive leaps you’ve made in the past month — you’re babbling up even more of a storm now; you’re aware of everything that happens around you; you’ve started noticing when we remove deadly objects from your proximity and protesting accordingly; you’re just an out-and-out little person — but your sleep has gotten FUBAR. FUBAR, kid. FUCKED. UP. For awhile last month when I was getting messages 25 times a day instructing me to commit suicide because I gave you the finger a couple of times while you were sleeping, I felt kind of bad for doing it, like, all the insanity sort of got to me and I was like, You know what? Maybe I shouldn’t do that anymore; she’s just a baby. BUT THEN you just up and stopped taking a morning nap, and your afternoon nap got completely wackadoodle (sometimes it’s 45 minutes long, sometimes it’s 3 hours), and you started going to bed at 11 at night again (AND YES WE HAVE A FUCKING ROUTINE, ARMCHAIR PEDIATRICIANS), and you started screaming bloody goddamned murder after every sleep cycle at night, and then you started screaming double-serial-aggravated-murder during your diapey changes at night, and now I’m remembering why the middle-finger thing happened in the first place.
At one point last month some fucking nutcase compared me to Lynndie England, the US soldier who posed while flipping off a blindfolded, tortured, waterboarded prisoner at Abu Ghraib. I was really offended at the time, but now I just realize that the only thing off about that comparison is that you, my dear, darling, sweet, perfect, blessed blessing from blessed God, are Lynndie England in this paradigm.
I’m the Iraqi prisoner being waterboarded.
*******END UNACCEPTABLE NON-RAINBOWS AND SUNSHINE DIGRESSION. Your virgin eyes may once again return to their normative insistence that all mothering be ecstatic.*******
You continue to adore your grandparents. You have “Crazy Time” every night with your grandma, who allows you to bounce around squeal and scream to your heart’s content, and cracks you up with the faces and the sounds she makes. You have seriously never met anyone as hilarious as your grandmother, and as soon as you catch sight of her, your face breaks into a Winnebago-sized grin and you all but leap into her arms.
Although you prefer Women of a Certain Age, and are generally nervous about menfolk (sometimes gamely tolerating when a strange man sticks his face into your face, going ‘OH HE’S SO CUTE!’ like one older gentleman wearing a TRUMP: MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN hat did a few weeks ago at the pancake house; sometimes just dissolving into screams and cries the second our dude-bro waiter arrives at the table or a guy says hi at the park), you also love your grandpa, who in turn loves to strap you in to your tricked-out wagon and take you to the park.
However, now he’s going to have to come up with a better nickname for you, because you’re no longer Quadri-Thigh. Your leg rolls have diminished down to three per thigh, and for that matter, your abdomen has shrunk almost to the girth of a…gasp of gasps…regular baby.
Your ten chins have melted away. You, my dear perfect child, are shrinking, no longer the “big fat baby” strangers have suggested I put on a diet (whilst also insinuating that I am a child abuser, because starving a baby isn’t abuse). Because you, my no-longer big, fat baby…
Well, all right, not straight-up all-fours opposite-hand-as-foot crawling per se, so much as strange-combo of Table/Downward Facing Dog/Plank that inexplicably manages to scoot itself across any given room.
You can go fast. Fast enough that you can get from what we falsely believed was the harmless center of the room, to the corner where all the electric cords are (OH GOD NO NOT THE MOUTH PLEASE NO), faster than we can blink. You crawl and crawl and scoot and move and just do not stop. Ever. Even in your sleep (when you do deign to enter that fleeting condition), you have flopped onto your belly and raised your butt into the air in a Downward-Dog motion. Sometimes when you crawl, you’re so excited to be crawling AND YET you also don’t want to give up your toy, so you’ll carry your toy in your mouth like some kind of St. Bernard.
When you’re not crawling, you’re doing other terrifying things, like pulling yourself up to a stand. The other day I was trying to get some pants onto you, and I was like, “Oh I can’t, she’s pulling herself up to a — AAACK!”
When you were in the womb, I worried about you every single second. I was so deathly afraid that something would go wrong with you, that I wouldn’t get to meet you — because, of course, I felt like I didn’t deserve you, and still quite often feel like I don’t deserve your incredible, bursting unbridled joy, your undistilled shrieking essence of life itself.
And almost as if to reassure me, you kicked and pushed and punched and twirled in there, like a frantic little motherfucker, all day and most of the night. You were so active that it took the technician two hours to do a routine ultrasound. So I knew this was coming — I was just distracted, because for the first six months or so of your life, you expended all of that boundless energy eating nonstop. Bulking up, I realize, for the ultra-marathon of activity that has now begun and will probably not end until you discover marijuana. (Please let that not be until after you take the SAT.)
You’ve also — shockingly — decided you hate hippos. For like five months, all you wanted to do was get Sandra Boynton hippo books read to you, and your most favoritest favorite of all was Hippos Go Berzerk. Now I can’t even get past “calls two hippos on the phone” before your face crumples in terror and you start screaming. Did you have a nightmare about hippos, my dear? Is that why you won’t sleep anymore? You’ve also started doing this weird thing where, every time I read you Little Blue and Little Yellow, you grab the book on the exact same page and try to close it. (“Little blue and little yellow were very sad. They cried big blue and yellow tears.”) You still absolutely love being read to, however, and your favorites, weirdly enough, are your bedtime books. Naptime for (unsurprisingly) naptime, and The House In the Night, for nighttime. I’d give those books a 20% success rate, which at this point, fuck, I’ll take it.
You continue to love being outside, and we continue to love being outside with you, so as long as the weather cooperates, it all works out.
When, at long last, you fall asleep at night, it’s usually just you and me for awhile as your papa enjoys a few precious hours to himself. Sometimes I work (I finished my book this month; not that you care, but it pays for all those designer diapeys you hate and Sandra Boynton books you’re terrified of), sometimes I watch TV (COMMERCIAL FREE HULU!!!!! HOLY SHIT! MY LIFE HAS CHANGED!), sometimes I read (just finished: Fates and Furies, very good!). Sometimes I drift off. And you’re usually conked out pretty good at this time (the ONLY time, not that I’m complaining. MOTHERHOOD IS PEFECT!!!!!!!), but you can tell that you’re only with one parent. Because without fail, every single night, when your papa finally comes and joins us, you shift a little bit, and then you let out the sweetest little sigh in the galaxy. Papa’s here, you say to yourself, even in your dreams. Papa’s here. Everybody’s here. All is right with the world. And you sink beautifully, if temporarily, into sleep.
Every night when you’re drifting off while you nurse, you grab my hand, and I grab yours back, and I say to you: Put your little hand in my big hand, little one, and no harm will come to you. I know I can’t really promise that, little one. I can’t protect you from a horrible world forever. But here in this moment, while you’re still little enough to nurse, while you haven’t quite learned to walk and still manage to stop tearing around for four seconds to rest, I can protect you. Just put your little hand in my hand.