You made huge strides this month -- literally. You went from dragging your body around on the floor with your arms to crawling to standing to taking actual steps from one object to another.
Absolutely nothing is off limits anymore. Not the plant in the office that you pulled down by tugging on a leaf and proceeded to turn the dirt on the carpet into mud with your drool in four seconds. Not the yogurt container that I set on the kitchen table when I walked away to get something to wipe your face with that you grasped and poured all over yourself. Not my glasses that were resting on an end table that you scooted over to from the rocking chair and flung across the room. Not the remote control. Not the bathroom garbage cans. Not the bottles in the wine rack. Not even the dog food.
For the past few doctor's visits, your pediatrician has dutifully asked whether we had baby-proofed the house yet. And each time, your father and I looked at each other and nodded proudly. I mean, sure, we put the little plastic caps on all of the empty electrical outlets. What else was there to do?
How naive we were.
The only way to baby-proof a room from you is to empty it.
Once you mastered how to stand, everything else in life became far less exciting. Why settle for sitting and playing with a toy when you could be clinging to it precariously on two feet with your butt in the air? Where even the slightest wrong move would send your forehead careening into hard plastic with the help of gravity and a little momentum? WHAT COULD BE MORE THRILLING THAN THAT?
ONE HAND! WHILE BOUNCING! AND LOOKING AT MOM FOR POSTIVE REINFORCEMENT!
I realize this is the stage where I have to take a deep breath and let you explore on your own a little, but it isn't easy. Part of me wishes I could catch you every time you fall and cushion your head every time you run into something, but making mistakes is part of learning. And, in this case, missteps lead to real steps.
I have to let you find your footing.
In your travels, nothing goes unnoticed. No matter how many times I search for rogue pieces of lint, hairballs or what I now like to call Random Floor Matter, you will find more.
If someone actually was looking for a needle in a haystack, you would be totally employable. I'd lend you startup capital to take out an ad on a billboard or maybe even one those ridiculous restaurant menus with business promotions on them, word of mouth would spread, and pretty soon you'd be all, "Hey Ma, do you want me to pay off the house or should we just sell it and pay cash for a villa in France? ... By the way, I found your earring back in the carpet threads under your dresser. Here."
Actually, it's never cool stuff like the missing headphone cover to my iPod earbuds. It's a minuscule piece of gravel that Toby transported in. Or an inexplicable tiny knot of black thread. Or a scrap of tissue. Or a grain of dirt the vacuum cleaner didn't pick up from your wrestling match with the plant.
I have exactly six seconds from the time you expertly pinch that Random Floor Matter between your index finger and thumb until you put it in your mouth. Strangely, you always pause to inspect it, but you never decide it's unworthy of being eaten. Once while I was loading our new dishwasher, you reached underneath to depths even the installation guy didn't go to and started smacking your lips on something.
I reached into your mouth after much struggling and biting and giggling on your part to pull out a rock.
I couldn't have been more speechless.
You laughed harder than you ever had in your entire life.
I should get you a onesie that says Rocks Rock.
It probably sounds like I'm complaining about all your progress in the motor skills department. What with all the more frequent vacuuming and emptying of garbage cans and general tidying up to do.
But even though I despise all of those things. Wish that they would just spontaneously happen on their own and that I'd never have to bother with them ever again for as long as I live, I'm still so proud of your development.
With one exception.
Where'd my snuggly baby go?
I can't cradle you in my arms anymore without you writhing and wriggling your way to an apparently much more desirable spot elsewhere. You never rest your head on my shoulder anymore because now you know how much there is to look at and take in.
Sure, you still love being held. You reach for me when other people have you. You murmur "Mamamama" when you're frustrated and need comforting. You prefer sitting on my lap to sitting on the floor.
But my favorite moments with you are the few seconds right before I put you back in your crib after feeding you in the middle of the night. You let out a deep breath and can feel every muscle collapse into me. It's your way of showing me how much you love and trust me.
I would vacuum all day every day for that.
You and Toby became best buddies this month. Maybe it's because you started laughing when he plays fetch and he likes the attention. Maybe it's because you started engaging him with your toys. Or maybe it's because you're not poking him in the eyes and tugging at his appendages as much now that you can reach a whole new level throughout the house.
But I have a sneaking suspicion that it's because you decided to start feeding him all your food.
At mealtime, Toby knows you're his gravy train. Besides the entire box of Cheerios you give him directly, he also loves the edible spray that flies off your fingers when you slap your highchair tray in exuberance. It could be turkey particles or corn nibblets, he's not particular. Plus, he gets all sorts of flavors like applesauce and mashed vegetables off your fingers when you reach down to pet him.
We should probably be disgusted, but it's the first time your father and I haven't had a furry head in our crotch during dinner in almost three years.
So, well, bon appetit. That what baths are for.
And I suppose it wouldn't be right if I didn't mention that you suffered through your first cold this month.
You had an ear infection and a few days later spiked a 103 fever. But you were a total trooper. You still preferred playing to anything else and just napped a little more frequently.
The only signs you had exhibited to clue me in was the occasional ear tug and needing a little more attention than usual. So I called the doctor and made an appointment.
Your dad and I weren't surprised at how pleasant and agreeable you were sitting on that examination table despite feeling your worst, but your doctor was.
Over and over he kept remarking what a great personality you have. On the way out, he even stopped to pinch your cheeks. Then he turned to us and said, "Really. She's absolutely wonderful. She has the best disposition."
And coming from a man who deals with babies and toddlers all day long, every day, probably for the past decade or so?
It was official confirmation that you are The Best Baby on the Planet.
I'm seriously going to get you a trophy.