I read in The Baby Book that when a baby starts to walk, he is officially considered a toddler. If that’s the case, let me be the first to formally welcome you to toddlerhood. You are walking everywhere! Your first steps were at the Toledo Zoo in the polar bear and seal exhibit. Daddy witnessed your first five steps as seals swam in a big tank behind you. I missed it. I was in the bathroom. But I saw the next five, which was just as exciting! Surprisingly, I didn’t cry or even feel like crying. I was just so proud and excited for you. I wish we had had the video camera with us, because you were squealing with delight as you hurled your body toward Daddy at a nearly 45-degree angle. Unfortunately, you didn’t come with a calendar marked with the dates of Big Milestones with big shiny “Bring the Video Camera!” stickers on it. Life wouldn’t be nearly as suspenseful if those existed.
You are such a happy little boy, Sam. The big thing this month is that you are starting to get jokes and make some of your own. Example: when you fart, you laugh like it’s comedy night and your butt is the headliner. You are such a boy — and you find yourself very funny. We like it, too, when you laugh with us. If Daddy and I are laughing about something, you’ll chime in with a hahahaha! from wherever you are playing or walking around in the room.
You’re still discovering new syllables and sounds. The best one of the month, by far, is the pop-pop-pop sound. You open and close your lips without phonating, so just a little popping sound is heard. You think it’s hysterical when Daddy and I do it with you. There are many evenings that we sit around staring at each other while we pop-pop-pop until you laugh and start it up again. Oh, how our definition of entertainment has changed!
We love to get kisses from you. “Sam, can I have a kiss?” we ask. In return, you lean in, mouth open, tongue out, and plant a big, wet “kiss” on whatever is nearest you — cheek, shoulder, mouth, ear, chin, knee, doesn’t matter. It’s extremely cute and extremely wet. Like that Shel Silverstein poem that ends, “That’s no kiss, that’s an ocean!”
It’s amazing how many things you understand. Today, I asked you to get a book so we could read. You marched right over (a great feat all its own), picked up a book and held it up for me. When you eat, I tell you to put food in your mouth and you do it. You turn light switches on and off on command. When I’m dressing you, I ask you to “switch hands” and you move the toy du jour to the other hand so I can put another sleeve on. You’re not saying any words yet, but you certainly have a wide vocabulary brewing in your head. Sometimes you get frustrated when we can’t figure out what you want and yell to try to make your point.
Feeding time has become infinitely easier this month. You are feasting exclusively on table food. Your current favorite is avocado — you shovel it in your mouth like it’s going out of style! Other loves are pears, peaches, and rotini pasta. Veggies from soup are a hit, too. Oh, and toast. Lovely Katherine Clark toast with butter. Yum! You don’t like to touch food that is too squishy. Peaches are given to you on a fork, but avocado is an independent eating endeavor. When you’re trying new things, I always give you a piece or two to feel and smash between your fingers to get used to the texture. In the last week, you’ve decided that feeding us is very fun. You offer all sorts of delicacies like warm, mashed banana laced with butter from toast, or graham cracker with essence of soup broth and spit. All I can say is that Daddy and I have our limits when it comes to eating what you offer. I can do the toasty-buttered banana, but wrinkle my nose at soupy spit-cracker. Eww.
Squinchy face has returned this month. I think it has everything to do with your top front teeth coming in. You’re getting used to them in your mouth, and perhaps showing them off a little. Maybe? It’s hard to say. You are also grinding your teeth together since having those four teeth. It makes my skin crawl to hear those little toofies gnashing together inside your head. I try to distract you with things to chew on, but it must feel good or weird or something, because it’s a new everyday occurrence.
Now that spring is here, we go for walks to the park to play. Every time we’re there, there’s one or two (or sometimes a flock) of little toddler girls who chase you around saying, “Baby! Baby! Baby!” Bigger school-age boys love to play with you, too. They comment on your walking and waving. One little boy even asked whether he could take you down the curly slide. I politely declined on your behalf, though you do like slides. You are a very social little boy, Sam, and love to watch the kids running around and playing. I feel like you wish you could be running and playing with them. Those days are coming very soon. In the meantime, Daddy loves to play ball with you. You throw your big red ball overhand, it lands with a big bounce, and Daddy retrieves it.
Even though you are busy, busy, busy and have little time for snuggles now, I sneak in as many kisses as I can. Watching you gain more and more confidence as you master walking, I know that the days of planting smooches on my little baby boy are growing fewer. Someday, probably sooner than I think, you will wipe off that kiss and say, “Moooommmm! Not in front of the other kids!” Until that day comes, baby mine, I will kiss those chubby cheeks and inhale the sweet baby scent of you, wishing — just for a second — that time would stand still.