hello, toddlerhood.

Dear Rowan,

Welcome to toddlerhood. I bet nobody ever actually says that to a toddler. That welcome is saved for said tot's parents.

For a year people have been saying, it will get better, it will be so much more fun. And I usually thought, but it's not so bad now. However, what they say is true. This is a really fun age. The blooms of communication are so tangible between us, it's like I can reach up and pluck a flower for you to smell. We understand each other, and that, dearheart, is an superb feeling.

And it's such a special exchange, because--for now--we ((you and me) + (papa, you, and me)) are truly in our own world. We know what your barking sounds like and that you bark whenever you see any animal. We know that you do this because we often look at dogs in the picture books and ask: Rowan, what does a dog say? Arf Arf.

Some things are more obvious, like when you bring your shoes to the door and try to put them on. Obviously you want to go outside. Arms up is up. Nmmm numm nmmm + the more sign closer to your mouth means eat.

Then there are the more nuanced wishes, which an onlooker may not decipher. Like knowing the difference between your milk sign and bye-bye wave. And that bye-bye means Good night, or I'm ready for bed.  That grunting to get my attention while twisting your wrists above your head with pointer and thumb together in what looks to be the beginning of the sweetest little pirouette means, Mama, please sing. And that only mama knows the story behind this made-up sign of yours.

Of course I've felt blunted by those moments of doubt, times where I set to fretting whether you'll ever sleep several hours in a row at night, or if you'll ever lay stand still for a diaper change. But your sleeping has improved organically, without us having to do anything drastic. Even when you kick and cry during a diaper change, you know how to help me--and you do. When I ask for hugs, you give me hugs. When we go to kiss daddy good night, you lean in for a kiss.

I love you, my little angel, who sometimes likes to scream.

shades of green.

"A mountain keeps an echo deep inside itself.
that's how I hold your voice."
- Rumi

Friends, I wish you are well. 

the way we grow.

{almirante nieto, torres del paine}
It's so fascinating to watch a little one grow. It is relearning wonder as the new person you have become. Remembering to play. To trust. To encourage: yourself and each other. Some days it's a 'pull your hair out' good time. But love. Love is the easy part. When you hear that laugh, the baby babble, first words and sentences ooo what's this?, witness the personality unfurl, the one that's going to someday tell you jokes that will make you guffaw. Guffaw? Guffaw. Well, none of this is what I meant to write.

Let's try this again. 

Rowan went to meet his new pediatrician last week. It made me appreciate how caring and good with people his previous pediatrician was. But all is well. After the appointment, we had to go to a different floor with some paperwork to get his vaccines.

We used to stay in the same examination room and the same nurse who took his measurements before the doctor exam also administered the shots. He received a few of his vaccines with nary a tear. The nurse would make warm eye contact with Rowan, he'd bat his eyelashes and sit in my lap, and I'd be upbeat and smiling while I held his hands away from the needle. All done. Cute gender-specific bandaids. Pants back on.

This time, though, the needles seemed much bigger.

The mild-mannered shot technician was nice and apologetic. A little too apologetic. She started saying Sorry before she even gave him the shot, which melted my cool and drowned out my Yays. Poor little guy needed three of these, and he started screaming with the first prick. I guess there's just something colder about the care we've transitioned into. Not that it's poor quality. I just miss the smaller, happier needles.

It's incredible how much babies use their caregivers as a mirror for their own states of well-being. When Rowan stumbles, the first thing he does--if he doesn't immediately get back up--is look at me to gauge my reaction. I've been pretty good at keeping my cool. But there are times when the bonk sounds loud and I start. And of course Rowan grunts and gets back up like nada. Still other times, I've seen him break down because of somebody else's animated are you ok? response.

It makes me think a lot about modelling the right things for him, and what exactly I want that to be.
Calm is the first thing that comes to mind. Space inside and expanse outside.  Indoors, that means unclutter, small compartments for his toys, flat shelving for his books so he chooses them by looking at their fronts rather than their spines. Outside, that means forests, mountains, meadows, rivers, oceans. It means access to the outdoors is close at hand. We're working on this. Breathing deep.

How are you?


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