dear sir isaac,
a little before christmas, you turned 15 months old. soon after, christmas happened, and then you got sick. with hand, foot and mouth disease. and then you didn’t eat for a whole week. you absolutely, and quite articulately, refused medicine throughout that week. for posterity, i wish to inform you that your stubbornness directly resulted in the frequent use of tylenol suppositories. and every time your eyes widened in disbelief that your parents were doing the unspeakable thing again, we reminded you that it didn’t have to be this way, that you brought this upon yourself.
thus far, you have not gotten the message.
you’re better now, for the moment. and am i ever grateful. because (and i promise i’m not trying to give you a time-traveling guilt trip, should you read this letter when you’re a grownup) you sure did direct your anger about being in so much pain at me. i will spare you the details, but let’s just say there was a lot of hitting, scratching, punching, biting, as well as one incident in which you seemed to intentionally give me the finger. i will also say that, in one breath, you’d kiss your mama, look at me, and growl fiercely.
…actually, you do that one all the time. at 15 months, you are a mama’s boy. she is your favorite grownup, the recipient of your best snuggles. uncle g is a close second. jude, however, tops all of us. she is the bar of all things awesome that you have set for yourself. you must drink from her cups, use her utensils, play with her toys, dance like she dances, etc. and so you pester her all day, ever encroaching upon her space and stuff, growling if she does not comply with your demands.
you are lucky: jude adores you. in fact, she loves you so much that she often asks if she can hold you on her lap. for a good 60 seconds, you cuddle together like this in the morning:
your big sister also sticks up for you. whenever your moms have to redirect you, jude is at the ready with a defense, or a case for why you should be able to continue doing x risky activity.
ziggy, you remain ever musical: you love to sing along with your favorite songs in an adorable monotone mumble, which is slowly evolving into discernible notes. when a good song comes on, you cautiously dance, you spin, you saunter around on tiptoe. you are a fan of gillian welch. you and i spend a lot of time listening to her together. (i think you’ve got a lot of tennessee in you.)
you love to cuddle soft things: blankets, the dog’s bed, stuffed animals – you are delighted by them all. currently, your favorite stuffed animal friends are bunny and giraffe. you can say “giraffe” now, in a menacing growl that happily reminds me of comic genius eddie izzard’s bit about evil herbivores.
you talk a lot these days, actually. Your yeses and noes are proper answers to questions now. you’ve got “all done” and pretty indecipherable “here you go” down. cat and dog and mama and milk and hiro (the only asian steam engine on sodor) are other favorites.
zig, you understand everything we say. your mama and i talk to you like we talk to jude. already, we negotiate when you are being unreasonable: if you take your medicine, you can have some milk. if you go to bed now, you can climb the steps yourself, and then see giraffe. it works. you get it. (but you are still stubborn; the most stubborn kid i’ve ever met.)
lest your grownup self thinks your toddler self hated me, let me close this letter with a moment–the moment i carry with me into my harried workday every day, in fact:
i put you to bed every night. (when i have to work late, mama keeps you up late so i do not miss this.) after you say your goodnights to the fambly, and finish your kvetching about having to go to bed at all, we head upstairs together. as we go through the routine of pajamas and new diapers and your nearly adult-sized sleep sack, i sing to you, and you sing to me: ABC’s, edelweiss, let’s go fly a kite, row row row your boat. i then pick you up and you snuggle into me, and i kiss your still honey-smelling head, until you stiffen and pull away. “are you ready for bed?” i ask, and, clutching giraffe, you enthusiastically reply, “yeah!” as i deposit you into your crib. you wave to me with your free hand, and say “night night!”
i smooth back your mop of unruly curls, and you grab my hand and kiss it like you were kissing the pope’s ring. i give you my other hand and you kiss it too. and then you give me a sleepy, dimply smile and say night night again. i say and sign i love you and walk out of the room, heart fuller than i knew it ever could be.
you are my joy, boy.