This is the big one. You are one year old. It’s a strange thing, as a parent, to think that you have been in this world for 365 days, and yet, it still feels like yesterday that I stayed up with you all night the first night of your life just watching you. I didn’t want to miss a thing. I still don’t. The novelty hasn’t worn off: you’re still my favorite entertainment.
And what a ham you are, Sam! One of your best tricks this month is your little closed-mouth giggle. Hmm-hm-hm-hm, you say. You find everything amusing, so we get to hear it a lot. I have a feeling that when you’re about five years old, Daddy and I are going to know every school-age joke ever told. We’ll hear “Mom! Dad! Knock knock!” endlessly from the back seat of the car. I can’t wait.
Speaking of “can’t wait,” we’re still waiting for your first word. You “name” everything you see with an , “Ah!” or “A-ba!” But there are no official words to speak of yet. But boy, Peanut, you understand everything! You follow commands very well, including my favorite, “Come here, Sam, let’s change your diaper.” Sometimes you trot over and willingly submit to a diaper change. Sometimes you squeal and run in the other direction. You love to be chased. I think it might be your favorite game. I reach out my arms and run after you saying, “I’m gonna get you! I’m gonna get you!” You laugh and laugh and sometimes run into my arms instead of away from me. Being gotten is as fun as being chased.
You love to be outside and therefore love spring. Daddy and I have taken you to Twin Lakes Park to walk around the lake and play on the playground. It seems you love to go down the slide! Parent A stays behind you while you climb to the top of the equipment, then we get you settled at the top of the slide, and Ready-Set-Go! you slide down all by yourself to the waiting arms of Parent B. You kind of lie on your back with your arms stretched out like a bird as you go down. Daddy and I take turns catching you, so we can see your big grin on the way down.
And though the slide is fun, your favorite thing about going to the park is seeing other kids. You’ll play with anyone who will have you, but you prefer kids close to your size. You walk up to them, touch their tummies, and say, “Ah.” Sometimes, if you’re especially taken with someone (like the little red-haired girl last weekend), you lean in for a hug or a kiss.
Now you have your first real tennis shoes. They make you looks like such a big boy. Gone are the soft-soled baby shoes. Now you are one! You are a big boy! A toddler! The first time we put them on your feet, you stood there in the Stride Rite store, lifting each foot, then bending down to touch the laces, and finally marching around the store, testing them out. You definitely love your big boy shoes.
You are the nicest boy, Sam. You still give kisses when it suits you. Sometimes you are quite giving and my clothes are polka-dotted with spit marks. Other times, I ask for a kiss and you graciously offer your forehead for me to plant one on you. The best thing is that you blow kisses now. Kind of. When asked, you will put your whole hand to your mouth and lick your hand. This is not to be confused with beeping your nose, which consists of putting your whole hand on your nose. No licks. It sometimes takes a keen eye to decipher which is which.
You hair is really filling in, Sam. It nearly completely covers your scalp now! And with the coming of spring and its humidity, suddenly you have little curls. Little blond ringlets all around the base of your head. They are adorable. I’m going to have a hard time cutting those off someday.
Your favorite toys are balls. You like to lift them over your head and throw them. Sometimes they go pretty far and you just grin and chase after it. Other times, you drop it behind you then spin around to find it. Either way, it’s a great time. And finally — FINALLY! — you like to load containers. I have been picking up strewn-about toys for months, only to have you unload the container before I have finished. Now, you take them out and then — ta da! — put them back in.
Your interest in books has waned a bit. Well, that’s not quite true. Your interest in reading books has waned. You like to throw them, and stand on them, and rip out the pages. Almost every one of your lift-the-flap books has had a flap or two ripped out. I have repaired those flaps and reinforced the still-intact ones with packing tape. When we try to read you books now, they go something like this: Brown bear, brown b–. Yellow duck, yell–. Purple green, uh, sheep, the end! Slam goes the last page and down you wriggle from my lap to move move move, flapping your arms, dancing, bouncing, running, peeking, rolling, and climbing.
I wish I could remember every little moment of this first year with you, Sam. I know that five-ten-twenty years from now, I will remember the big things, like when you crawled and walked and talked, but what day did you first put your arms up to be held? What time was it when you played peekaboo for the first time? I wish I could remember every single thing. But I will always remember your newborn scent, the little grunts and wiggles of your babyhood. I will hold in my heart the pride I felt watching you army crawl for the first time, pulling yourself up, taking your first steps. I will remember walking up the stairs, cheek to cheek, to put you down for a nappy-noo-noo. I will remember the feel of your little arms wrapped around my neck, your face buried in my neck. When I am old and gray, those baby smiles will be reflected in your grown-up face, always and forever my baby Sam.
Happy birthday, baby boy.