Last week you turned sixteen months old. While I am usually painfully aware how many letters I’ve skipped, I opened up my computer today to write this letter before realizing the last time I wrote you you were thirteen months old. Mama still feels in shock as I realize three whole months have passed, but it’s the trend with you, Boo. Time speeds by so quickly with you; I don’t understand it. Suddenly you’re pulling up, suddenly you’re crawling, suddenly you’re walking, running, talking, and putting on makeup.
Yes, Mama does like to exaggerate, but this time I’m 100 percent sincere. A few weeks ago you opened up the bathroom drawer where I keep my makeup bag, pulled out the blush and a brush, sat right down in the floor, opened the blush, dipped in the brush, and began stroking your face with it, and that’s how I found you. Mama was so amazed! But I don’t even know why, because that’s how you roll. You see a grownup (or your brother) doing something, and then you do it, too. You can now set the table, pull a stool over to the counter and climb up to help me with dinner, help me dump flour and sugar into the bowl when I’m baking, drink from a cup with no lid, and use a big-person fork. You pick things up so quickly I’m sure you could drive the car if you could only reach the pedals.
Sometimes your desire to behave as someone much older than yourself puts you in danger. You think if Big Bro can slide down the fire pole at the playground, you damn sure can, too. And you’re so fast on the playground equipment that I find myself darting around underneath the slide and around the poles, yelling at you to STOP! because you ran right to the gap in the bars where big kids climb down the ladder and are dangling your toes down, giggling. (I swear I heard you saying “Dance, Monkey” to me the other day.) Sometimes your desire to be an adult is merely annoying. You throw your baby forks on the floor now, because you know it’s not the same kind we have. You want down out of your high chair so you can run around and stand precariously in the kind of chairs we all use. You HATE being offered a cup with a lid, and you tug at it and whine until I remove it for you. No, you cannot have that knife. No, you cannot have that glass of wine. No, you cannot walk out the door and down the front steps and into the road. Any time we tell you you cannot do something you turn into a screaming ball of fury, and we all have to run for cover.
In fact, whenever I have to say “Not for Violet” or, God forbid, “No,” I have learned to cover my head with my arm first, just to ward off the blast of fire that you exhale in my direction. When Noah tries to block his toys from your destructive grasp, we often hear your scream right before we hear him pleading for mercy, and as we run in we find you standing over him holding a fistful of his hair. Other times you just scream and cry and while we used to make Brother share with you because you were a baby, we’re starting to try and let you two work it out for yourselves. This isn’t working, by the way. As I hear your yells of protest I look up and you’re running over, pointing at him. “What happened, Noah? Why is Violet sad?” I ask, knowing full well he did something mean to you, like push you out of the way because he hates it when you take apart his train tracks. “She’s MESSING!” he tells me. “She’s DESTROYING!” You are, and I know it, but you’re still going to tell me it’s all his fault by crying as you point to him, then point to yourself, then say “Dee!” in a wobbly little voice which I think means “That just happened, and what are you gonna do about it Mom-Lady?”
You’re usually ok after a quick hug, but sometimes you milk it because you know it means I’ll end up holding you. Mama has learned to do almost everything one-handed, including chop vegetables and yes I know how dangerous that is. More importantly I think my left hip is going to be permanently jutted out from always carrying you around on it. But you love being cuddled, and I’ll cherish it as long as it lasts, because I know it won’t last forever. You really hardly ever cry. Even when you get hurt you really only cry for a minute, and you’re easily distracted by a book or the cat or a cup of water. The only times you shed real tears are when you wake up all sweaty like maybe you had a bad dream, and when I walk by you even though you want me to hold you. (I should know you’re done with your book and you’re ready to be held by telepathy, I guess.) (The million things I’m doing and/or the million things I’m carrying? Also unimportant.) You will stand there as I take things out of the oven (your Daddy cannot STAND it when I open the hot oven with you on one hip, and he’s right, Boo-Boo, which is why I’m amending my evil ways) and sob, chewing on one finger, tears rolling down your cheeks, bubbles spilling out of your mouth, each wail more heart-breaking than the one before it. All because you decided it was time for a cuddle and I was right in the middle of trying to prevent you from third degree burns. THE NERVE I HAVE.
You have a lot of words these days, Baby Girl. “No” is your favorite, and given your attitude I’m not terribly surprised by that. Only it sounds more like “NAAA-OH!” in true Tennessee gal fashion. (You shake your head vigorously and your face as you say it is
scary as hell quite stern.) Everything you say seems to have a deep southern lilt, and I’m not sure if that’s your age or our location on the map. “Daa-oh,” you call the dog. “Rff, rff!” “Maa-oh,” mouth. “Bah!” you say, frowning, when you bonk your head. You point to your head. You point to whatever bonked it. “Dih.” “MEEnah-MEEnah!” (Nummy nummy… a nonsense word your daddy and I accidentally taught you for food. You use it while pointing to food and nodding.) “Day!” is thanks, and “Day-doo!” is thank you. You also know what the monkey looks like and what sound it makes “ooo-ooo-ooo,” what sound the elephant makes (you lift your arm into the air for some trunk action), but you also think the giraffe makes the same sound and motion. And squirrels. You look proudly at us after pointing to a squirrel and making the elephant noise. “Bah-bah” is the baby in the book you bring me over and over again, “dee” is everything else. Maybe that means “what”? I don’t know. Last week when your daddy came home from work you very clearly said “Hhaaah, Dad-dee!” And then we had to mop your daddy up off the floor.
Other than no, your favorite word is “Mama.” I am ok with this. You sit in the car seat, looking out the window, saying “Ma-ma!” “Yes?” I ask. “Ma-ma!” you say again. “Yes, Violet?” “Ma-ma!” And on and on it goes. If Daddy is rocking you to sleep at night, you call for “Ma-ma! Ma-ma?” When you wander up to me, you gaze into my eyes and say “Ma-ma!” Mama might mean me, or it might mean milk, but really I guess the two are interchangeable. We’re still going strong with nursing and I see no signs of you backing off… it’s like you have to make up for all the time you lost by NOT nursing as an infant. You know, when you really NEEDED milk and I really NEEDED you to nurse. Now you ask me all the time (by banging on my chest then trying to lie down in my arms) even though most of the time I tell you it’s not time to nurse. I’m trying to get you on a once in the morning (as I doze in and out of consciousness and you lie beside me in bed… those are such sweet times Love Bug), once down for a nap, and once down for bed schedule, but sometimes there is just no other way to calm you down when you’ve been asking me for a while. It’s usually at the MOST inconvenient possible time, too. I roll my eyes and sigh as we sit down to nurse in the middle of the stupid afternoon, but I really do love reconnecting with you in that cuddly way. You tangle your hands up in my hair or curl your own hair around your fingers and smile as you look up at me, and we sit like that until Brother comes over and tries to convince me that you’re DONE already because he wants to play with you. You grunt and furrow your eyebrows and try to swat him away with your free arm as he strokes your hair. It’s kind of… weird, I’m not gonna lie.
Even though Brother still drives you crazy, you seem to think he hung the moon. When you first see him in the morning you sit up, bleary-eyed and with bed-head and all, and say a big, smiley “haaaah!” You love giving him good morning and goodnight hugs and goodnight kisses. You raise your eyebrows and, in your very own version of puckering up, press your lips together, and you lean right in for a kiss. And Noah obliges with a smack on the lips as he would never do with another living soul. You want to do EVERYthing he’s doing, even if it’s just making the same beat-box noises he’s been doing lately. If he sings, you sing. If he claps, you clap. If he climbs the stairs, you follow. If he plays with trains, so do you. Or blocks. Or musical instruments. You study him for a minute, then mimic him. And then when he gets aggravated that you’re trying to take the things he’s using (“NOO, VIE!” he admonishes), you scream at him and tattle on him. But you love him so much already, and my heart is bursting into tiny pieces of confetti as you gently rub his back when he’s sad, babble to him in Baby English while you play together, or run over (“AHH-OH!”) when he trips and falls, hold out your hands, and try to help him to his feet. (True story. That happened. I’m feeling the sudden, overwhelming need to go call someone, anyone, just so I can tell this story again.) That’s true love. No one will ever be friends like the two of you will be friends, I just know it.
For all your screams, you have at least as many giggles. I’ve heard you chuckle when something’s a little bit amusing (your brother knocks down a tower of blocks and laughs maniacally); I’ve heard you guffaw when something’s truly funny (you put your stinky little foot in my face and I say “Shoo-wee!” and push it away) I’ve heard you belly laugh when something’s hilarious (I chase you; you pretend to kick Daddy while he’s pushing you on the swing and he pretends to be knocked sideways). You smile shyly at strangers, causing everyone to fall in love with you. You grin at friends and reach for them. You squeal and play with grandparents.
I wish I could write down everything you’ve said or every funny thing you’ve done in the last month, Vi Baby, let alone the last three months. You’re growing up so fast, much faster than you should. I love being around you; your joy is infectious. Last night you broke your pattern of sleeping through the night (DID YOU HEAR THAT?! YOU’VE BEEN SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT!) and you were awake like every 20 minutes. Then you woke up at the crack of dawn (literally… the sun was just coming up) and I was sooo annoyed with you until you sat me down with a book, we looked at and labeled a few pictures, and then you closed the book and leaned back in my arms. You looked up at me, smiling, and for no reason you just started giggling, and of course my exhausted mind relaxed. There’s no better tonic than a big dose of you, Violet Marie. I love you.
MA-MA! MA-MA! MA-MA!