Sugar Beet

I’m still here. I’ve been somewhat hesitant to post about Joey just so that there’s some kind of big, impressive birthday post to write—but that post will probably be all pictures and sniffling from me, so let me tell you what he’s like these days.

He can stand on his own, but won’t do it on purpose—and when he realizes that he is standing unsupported, immediately sits down or grabs something to hang on to. He is not interested in walking by himself, but at the same time, he keeps coming up against the limits of what cruising can do for him and getting frustrated. He climbs down and up—down more easily than up—boldly, and his favorite maneuver is to climb down the side of the futon and then get stuck in the magazine rack.

I had assumed that there would be one discreet first word that I’d be able to point to, but instead wordish things have grown into words, and now he regularly uses appropriately rather a number of words: up, down, all done (“ah dun”), mama, daddy, granddad (“dadad”), night-night (nigh-nigh), moon, that (“dat”), and no. He’ll also echo things that we say: yesterday he and the Mister were going back and forth with “Hot stuff!” “Ho’ ‘tuff!” He also chatters in the right sort of cadence for English, and has started incorporating the words he knows into the toddlerese: apparently wondering where his granddad was, he asked me “Ha ba dun dun dun aya Dadad?” Ready for a nap, he berated me with “Abba bara ah ba ba ara nigh-nigh!” Clearly, he thinks that he is talking. And he’s not far wrong, anymore.

I’m still enjoying him—so much, right off the charts. He’s eating more and more human food; we feed him every two hours or so while he’s awake, and he is more and more eating a good portion of food at those times. He always wants whatever we’re eating, even when he doesn’t like it. I was eating a bagel with raw tomato and onion on top of it the other day, and Joey demanded a bite, spat it out, poked and glared at it, and then demanded another bite.

He’s still so sweet-natured that I can’t imagine what I did to deserve him. Oh, sure, he gets cranky when he’s tired and throws tantrums when I won’t walk him around and around and around, but he also gives kisses and smiles at everyone and loves to wave and clap and see us respond. Joey also likes to listen to music and dance or to play the piano and sing. He loves to go outside, and to go for walks; we’re lucky to be in such a mild climate, I guess. He started to say moon on evening walks, reaching up as far as he could and signing <want> <want> <want>.

Joey’s godmother and an uncle are coming into town in time for his birthday, and we’re going to have a little party. We got our birthday present for him when he was born, since I am weird about this sort of thing—recently I was given a gift card and bought his birthday present for next year. Of course, after that I’ll have to wait and see what he wants! But for now, I think we can make pretty good guesses as to the things he would like: this year, a ride-on fire engine toy (next year, a play kitchen). Okay, both Christmases are both mostly in my closet as well. I think this is a result of placing Cricket, and of telling myself that I obviously couldn’t keep him because I didn’t have baby stuff; I now badly want to have whatever baby/toddler stuff a little Snerkleberry might like to have. I know that good parenting isn’t about stuff, and I’ve certainly seen my son ignore toys in favor of Tupperware containers and empty boxes, but I can’t quite shake this desire to be materially prepared. But I’m working on it.

I Dream of Snerkleberries

Wednesday was my mom’s day out, the first time in months that I was to go out by myself. It was a beautiful day, the kind that makes it obvious why we’re willing to sit through eight months of rain to get to it: sunny, warm without being hot, and breezy. I went downtown for two-ish hours, but then I had to go back home and coax the lads to join me—it was too nice of a day to spend it alone.

The two of us adults got vegan barbeque—and we got to share with Joey, a bit, which he was pretty happy about—and then walked to the library. At that point, Mr. Book left us to study out of an LSAT prep book for a couple of hours while the Snerks and I wandered around. He fell asleep in the Ergo and so I marched around and around, through much of the downtown. When he woke up, we stopped at a fountain, where he was petted by a gaggle of cooing preschool kids. I’ve discovered that kids who have not been taught how to deal with babies tend to ignore Joey, whereas kids who’ve gotten talks about gentle touches seem unfailingly to come carefully stroke him or occasionally—adorably—kiss the back of his head. Joey seemed quite pleased by all the attention. The two of us rode the train for a few blocks back and forth, went to the library ourselves to read children’s books. I held him up to picture book displays and read whatever he lunged at; apparently the noises that Mother Bear makes in Blueberries for Sal are just hilarious. When the library closed, the three of us met up out front, and then caught a bus back home. Whenever we were all together, Joey was smiling and laughing at his pop. If there’s some smitten in the air at casa Book, it’s infected us all.

I’ve been listening to an audiobook memoir by someone who seems like a pretty unhappy parent of a little kid, and I’m having a hard time empathizing with him. Do I enjoy a cup of coffee with myself every once in awhile? Sure. Do I sometimes wish that I could go to a movie? You bet. But honestly, even on the bad days, I feel pretty lucky. Who knows how much of that is losing Cricket, how much is the sweet temper of the Snerks, and how much is just me liking this mom thing. But when the baby wakes me up from a dream of being kicked in the chest by kicking me in the chest repeatedly and smiling to see me goggle groggily at him, I’m glad to see him.