One in a Million
My dearest Beth,
I saw a video recently that made me laugh.
It was a little girl, she was probably about 4 years old, and she was sitting next to her baby brother, sobbing. When her mom asked her why she was crying, she said it was because she didn't want her little brother to grow up. It was so sad! She wanted him to stay a little baby forever. Oh. my. goodness. Cutest thing ever.
I had to laugh, because I know exactly how she feels.
Yesterday marked the day you have been in our lives for a year. It was your first birthday.
We had a rough run at the beginning. You didn't seem to want to sleep ever, and you woke up frequently in the night, making my days very difficult. After about 8 months, though, we figured things out and now you sleep like a champ. Instead of screaming from your bed for an hour or more, like you used to do, I now sing to you, kiss your forehead, and then put you down in your bed and you go to sleep without a fuss. It is like magic, and everyone in the family thanks you for how cooperative you now are. None more than me, though. Now, I can barely tell when you are tired. I have to guess because you are so happy all of the time. I sit on the floor near you, hum your lullaby and hold your blanket open. If you are tired, you come running into my arms and we cuddle for a bit before I put you down. If you aren't tired, you will smile slyly at me, nod your head (in the greatly exaggerated way you do), raise your eyebrows and continue to play.
In the past two weeks you have begun to walk. You have completely given up on crawling and we all find great joy in the way you lurch around, your arms out in front of you, zombie walking through the house. I love that you are tenacious and you have reminded me in a way only you could how important it is to never give up and keep trying no matter how hard something is. I have watched you struggle with those first steps, constantly falling down again, but always getting back up to try again. You walk around the wall that separates the living room and kitchen over and over again, as if in a great exercising competition, always grinning and laughing at your success.
Your favorite person right now is your dad. You love him more than anyone else, and I love to see the light in your eyes when he walks into a room. You give him your toothiest grin with a little scrunch of your nose, and a squeal as you reach for him and lurch your way across the room to be with him. Part of me thinks I should be jealous but I can't bring myself to be, because it is too precious. The bond you and your father share is strong and treasured. Best of all is the way you squeal "Dada!" when you first catch sight of him, melting his tired and work weary heart. You help ease him into a better state of mind at the end of a long day.
You have got some serious rhythm going on. Whenever you hear music, you begin your squat dance. You stand with your legs apart, and then you bounce, doing squats with the music while shimmying your shoulders, the scrunched nose, squinty eyed smile shining out with pure joy. It makes everyone laugh, which only encourages you more. You love music so much, though. If ever I am playing the piano, you come rushing from whichever part of the house you are in, eager to interrupt my playing with your infantile plunking symphony. You will stand on your tippy-toes, arms stretched high over your head, so you can reach the keys, and there you do your best to play, although you cannot see what you are playing. I can't resist your little fingers covering the keys my fingers are seeking and quite often give up on my piece to hold you while you excitedly take over playing. You don't fist slam the keys like most babies do, though. You delicately play one or two notes at a time with individual fingers, like you see me doing, and then look back at me, a huge smile plastered on your face, eyes seeking my approval. Which I always give, because you show a true talent for understanding music at such a young age, which amazes me.
You are not ticklish for other people and when people try to tickle you, you smile faintly as if humoring them, and then look away with a slightly peeved expression on your face. It cracks me up every time. You are ticklish, but only on your legs in just the right spot, and I think I am the only person who knows that tickle spot. You squeal with delight when I tickle you right after a bath or after I change your diaper, your little hands pushing mine away. When I stop, you put my hands back, showing me you want me to tickle you some more.
Your favorite games right now are peek-a-boo and climbing up and down the steps. You love to play peek-a-boo when we go for long car rides, and I always laugh at your scrunched tight eyes and your dimply fingers covering them. Especially when I can see that cerulean blue of your eyes peeking through. You say "Boo!" and then squeal with excitement at our little game. The stairs seem to have some sort of magnetic pull for you. You somehow always know when we forgot to close the baby gate and you rush over to them. Mostly I don't mind. But when I see you attempting to go down the stairs like a big person, facing forward and walking down, my heart stops and I move faster than I ever thought possible to help you turn around and try going down that way. You love to be pulled around on the ground by your feet. You will lay down, arms to your sides, and then you will look at me and say "Ah!" which translates to "Mom, I need a ride. Drag me, please!" The Jack in the Box is your favorite toy, hands down. You will sit on my lap turning the handle, anticipating the Jack to burst through the top and when he does, you always say "Hiiiiiii!" to him. You give him a kiss, and then shove him back into the box and do it all over again, humming snatches of the "Pop goes the Weasel" song as you turn the handle.
Beth, you charm the socks off of everyone you encounter. You have become such a happy little girl. You are so mellow and content to be held on my lap or in my arms when we are around many people. We have been playing with your cousin, one month older than you, and she is a whirlwind of activity and motion, always on the move, trying to get into things and keeping her parents on their toes. You watch her running around, and you are so content to sit in my arms, just watching. I think you may be an old soul, like your brother. You are the kindest most considerate baby I have ever had the privilege of knowing. When you are eating something you particularly like, you always offer some of it to those around you. Most smile, shake their heads and tell you to eat it, but as your mother, I am always happy to share in your baby slimed food that you more often than not have retrieved from your mouth in an effort to share it with me. You share your toys with your brother and sister, and are so good with playing with them.
I love how much you love books. When you find the one you want to be read to you, you give the book to the chosen reader, and then you slowly back up until you are sitting on their lap. Then you become a bit of a tyrant, turning the pages before the current one is finished being read, skipping pages, insisting the book be read upside down, and sometimes having to taste it before we can go on. I laugh, and try to humor you. Your favorite books are the ones that make noise, or books with texture. You don't seem to like the smooth textures, instead you focus your exploratory powers on the bumpy, rough, and sticky sensations. Oh how you love to cuddle and read, though!
I am a much better person for knowing you, loving you. You make it so easy to be a mom, brightening every morning with the sound of you jumping in your crib. The way you throw your binki out of your mouth when I get you out of your bed. You are so precious and such an important and loved part of our family. This past year has flown so quickly, it seems just yesterday you joined our family, and yet, at the same time, it feels as if you have always belonged with us.
I love you so much, my sweet little Bethy. I can't wait to see what kind of girl you grow into, and what kind of person you will become.
Love you forever and ever,