Oops..is that an embarrassing name? Honestly, I call you whatever comes to mind and you just seem the perfect little “whatever-I-call-you”. Picklebunny, Sweatpea, Bean Bean, Snuggle Puppy, Cuddle Bunny, Cuddle Bug, Bumble Bee, Pickle, Thing 2, Little 1, Gondu, Gondi, Gonduli, Gundula, and Pumpkin, are some of the more common names I use to call you.
However, the one name everyone in your family, your daddy, your anna, and your mommy call you is BABY. You are our Baby and we still call you Baby, like it is your first name. Your anna, especially, almost always calls you, “Baby”. “I am sorry, Baby”. “You should share, Baby”. “I love you, Baby”. “Good night, Baby”. “Look at this, Baby”. “DON’T BREAK MY TRACKS, BABY!!”…Yes, Baby, that’s you. My darling child.
You are 20 months young at present time and will turn 21 months soon. You are growing up so, so fast, faster than your brother ever did or so it seems maybe because things have been so much easier with you. (Not that they were tough with your brother but being a first-time-mom then, everything seemed to stretch longer than it really did). I keep thinking to the days when your brother was your age and compared to him, I just feel like you are so much younger. You are my precious little baby…you couldn’t possibly already be 20 months. COULD YOU?! I still remember the day you were born like it was yesterday. Literally. And yet, my dear, here you are…growing into a super smart, quick-as-a-whip, very loving, thoughtful, and extremely adventurous little angel baby – another name I call you.
In this letter, at your 20-going-on-21-months age , I wanted to write to you about the amazing things you do now that make us stop whatever we are doing and just watch you, with love, with admiration, with amazement, with pride, and the greatest of joys of which only parents are capable. This letter is also for me to reminisce fondly as the years go on by. I should perhaps update your Baby Book but for now, this will have to do.
Everything with you has been happening at a much, much faster rate. For one, you talk a lot and already speak many, many words. Perhaps it is a combination of the extent to which we use words in our house and your own ability to grasp everything so sharply and intuitively. We are a vocabulary-rich household. We are all talkers. Your dad and brother are the biggest yappers I know. I can be one too, when the mood strikes. It is no wonder that you have been listening to words all your life. A lot of them. It is not a secret that parental interaction and use of language at home “provides nutrition to the developing brain“.
In addition, thanks to your brother’s new obsession with identifying letters and numbers, you have been picking up on his lessons and learning by osmosis.
The other day, as you climbed and sat yourself on your rocking chair before I could get to it, you started saying…”naayn naayn..” As usual, preoccupied with something else, I didn’t quite focus on what you were saying and went ahead and put your sleep sack on you. It was then that I realized that you, my child, my 20-month-old was pointing to a sticker on your crib – it was one of those sticker tags that big moving companies put on items to keep track of them. This particular one was stuck on your crib (then, your brother’s) when we moved from Chicago to SJ. The number on that crib was 290 and you were pointing to the 9 and had recognized it absolutely correctly.
On December 15th, we were at Marshall’s and I had picked up a “Best Sister Ever” t-shirt for you when you matter-of-factly pointed at the S in Sister and said “S”. I was flabbergasted. Then, there was the time when I was in the kitchen when you brought me a pack of matching Christmas cards and pointing to an image on a card said your version of “Santa”….and I was like…”Did you just say, Santa?”
Today you said, “Step Stool”. At ‘Old McDonald’s’ (as anna likes to call it), also today, you clearly stated you wanted “French Fries” – [Hopefully, you didn’t roll your eyes at me thinking ahem…why are you feeding me McDonald’s at 20-months…Sigh, cherda…when you have a big brother who loves McDonald’s and a mom who loves to often spoil him (and you), who has time to cook? Before we headed to McD’s, we were at the park by our old house, the place you came home from the hospital to and where we celebrated your 1st birthday, and all three of us had SUCH A BLAST picking pine cones and stones, and running around chasing each other. You had such a fun time with your big brother climbing up the ‘mushroom’ steps and sliding down slides. Urged by your brother to push (“Push me, Baby”), you would give him a gentle push and off he’d slide to peels of laughter and you would follow right behind him with huge smiles….like I said, who has time to cook when we are out having so much fun…lunch would have gotten really delayed if I had waited to come home and then cook and then feed you kiddos lunch.
You are extremely quick with grasping new words. You repeat them right away and even though you may forget them the next second, you have spoken them out loud. You are already learning to communicate well. You can clearly tell us when you want ‘dudu’ or ‘udda’ or ‘oranji’ or ‘appl’ or ‘cheez’ or ‘rice’…you even have your own words for Avocado, and other foods.
Your friendly and blossoming personality is full of ‘Hellos’ and ‘Ba-byes’ especially for people you know and sometimes for people you don’t know as well. A week ago or so, when I was getting dressed, you walked over to me from someplace else and said, “Hello, Mommy” as if that was the most natural thing for a 19-month-old to say. I just looked at you with all the love I had in me at the time. And with a little sadness. You are growing up, sweetpea. At that moment, you might as well have been a teenager just popping in to check on Mommy and say hello.
While we were very diligent reading to your brother hundreds of books, regularly, 5-10 just before bedtime while he drank his milk (and until he finished it) and a whole lot during the day, we were not quite as consistent with you. So, you decided to become your own advocate. You learned very, very early that you had to take a little bit of an extra step and matters into your own hands to get what you want. Thank you for the kindness and forgiveness you have bestowed on your tired parents. What you did as a result was, grab a book from one of our many overflowing bookshelves, bring it to your daddy or me, plop yourself on our laps facing out, and demand that we read the book to you. You did this regularly. Enough for us to be motivated to do more of this voluntarily as well as to feel a little guilty for not having done so ourselves from the very beginning. We got the hint.
After the first few times, we became more attentive and started reading to you. Regularly. Now, we read a lot to you at any given time of the day and you love it! You love surrounding yourself with books. If you are quiet, you can usually be found with a mess of books around you, tucked in the quiet space between the bookshelf and toys, turning pages and trying to figure the book out for yourself. I love it!!
Oh your personality shines through more and more everyday. You are clear on what you like and don’t. You love having a good time, playing with your brother, father, and mother. You love trains and cars. You love your mommy and daddy SO, SO, SO much but your best love is saved for your brother. You want everything your brother has. You want to do everything your brother does. You love chasing and being chased by him. You love running around in circles with him. You love bringing him his things. You love leaning in to touch his cheeks with yours as you learn to kiss. You love hugging and being hugged by him.
At the same time, you destroy his train tracks, you break his meticulous set up of toys or LEGO arrangements, you snatch at his PlayDoh creations, and no surprises, one of the first words you learned from him was, “Mine” to territorially guard and grab and hold close to your chest whatever it was that you both wanted and did not want to share.
Another thing you say is “me” but it is how and when you say it, that makes it most endearing. Daddy and I love hearing your responses to our questions especially when the response is “me”. It doesn’t matter what we ask, you are smart enough to realize that when asked in a certain tone, the best response to a question is almost always, “Me!” Whether we excitedly ask, “Who wants some hot chocolate?” or “Who wants to go for a bath?” or “Who’s ready for dinner?”, we LOVE your enthusiastic, “ME!!” – another word you obviously learned from your brother.
You love running. Escaping. It is all a game to you, much to my chagrin. Whether it is a parking lot, a library, a bookstore, a grocery store (if you weren’t placed inside a cart)…it doesn’t matter…your attitude is on the lines of “Have two feet, will run” and Mommy is usually left running after you and sometimes forcibly grabbing you. This is either followed by much delight at your end or unhappiness. Either way, Mommy gets a good work out.
Once I started going to the gym, I had no choice but to take you along for the ride. That’s how our lives have been, my dear. Yours and mine. Intertwined. Where I go, you go. Where you go, I go. Usually, it is all three of us – your brother, you, and I. The first day of Kid Care at the gym, you seemed nonchalant about the whole thing. You probably didn’t know what to expect. I dropped you off with a nice lady, said good-bye, and left. You took it all in stride.
When I came back to get you, I was recording you. I don’t know, I guess I had an intuition. To date, that is my favorite video of you. You were playing by yourself, completely calm and content. Then you heard me calling your name, saw me, stood up, and slowly at first then with a faster pace, started running toward me. Simultaneously, your face changed contours. You went from a neutral expression to a sad to a very sad-but-happy-almost-complaining look as tears streamed down your beautiful brown eyes. I scooped you up and held you tight as you stopped crying. In Konkani, Amma polonu bhornu ayle tukka. Mamama would have loved to see that video and I am so, so glad I captured it all. It will always have its own special memory in my heart.
You love music. You dance easily. You love talking too. Sometimes, I think you are actually telling me something but I just don’t get it. For example, the other day, you pointed at a plastic bag and went on for a few seconds telling me something about it in your own language. I wished I could understand you but to tell you the truth, I didn’t care that much. I was enthralled by just watching and listening to you. The sound of your voice, the meaningful intonations in your speech, the purposeful communication – were all such a fascinating thing to have observed.
On December 13th, 2017, you kissed me for the first time. I casually asked, “Mommy, kissy?” and you lovingly cupped my chin, gently moved my cheeks toward you (I was holding you high on my hips to my left), and gave me the sweetest, softest little kiss ending with an “mmmah!” oh the love….tears tears… You are also not satisfied with just one kiss. You have to kiss the other cheek too. So Mommy got a bonus kiss from you, on my other cheek. I feel so, so blessed to have you in my life, little one.
You love avocados in any form. You love them in their natural form and you love them in guacamole form. You love your meat. You used to love rice but not so much, anymore. You enjoy noodles. You are very open to all kinds of food but that could also be your age. I remember your brother was quite open to all kinds of foods at this age too. No thanks to your brother, you have gotten introduced to desserts at a very young age. So you have already tasted all kinds of goodies from cakes, cookies, brownies, doughnuts, to what have you.You also like flan which besides me (your Mommy’s favorite since I was a little girl growing up in India when Weikfeld’s Caramel Pudding” was an all-time family favorite), nobody else in this house likes.
At least for now, you let me pick your clothes for you. I take great pleasure in this. I always think a lot about how I want to dress you. I think this for your brother too but he is a lot more resistant to my choices now and would rather just do it himself. This doesn’t mean that you always accept what I choose for you. Sometimes, you pick what you want and I accept those choices if they are weather-appropriate.
Yesterday, you were able to take your pants off and almost put them back on by yourself. For a very long time now, you have learned to be cooperative in helping me take your shirts off or put them on. I love dressing you in dresses maybe because I love dresses too. You look glorious in all of them. Perhaps one day you may show a preference for a certain genre of clothing but for now, I enjoy dressing you in pretty little frocks.
Hair and accessories:
Your mommy sells a lot of hair accessories so I have the best choices to pick from when it comes to “decorating” your hair. I have tied your hair in all kinds of bows and hair clips and you usually let me do my thing on your hair without much of a complaint. Thank you for that. Your hair is quite curly and knots easily. I try to be gentle when I comb and when you let me do it, untangle the knots out. Even though it comes at a little bit of pain, it is really cute to hear you say “uuch” when I pull a little too hard.
Your hair is an enviable color with highlights. It is the kind of hair color I would pay to have myself. You don’t have my hair though. Nor your dad’s. Your hair is thinner, much lighter than but closer to daddy’s hair color, curly, and with natural highlights.
You love books. Both Daddy and I are so happy that you do, that you developed this interest purely by self-motivation. We will do everything we possibly can to continue to fuel this interest. You love playing with trains, trucks, and cars. I am not sure if this is because you see your brother playing with them or if these interests come naturally to you. The social scientist in me wonders the what-ifs – What if instead of “boy” toys, we had a house full of dolls, toy kitchens, and such, would you have then shown an early interest in these toys?; What if we had bought you a lot of dolls, pink girly stuff, and other ‘girl’ toys, would you still have played with trains, trucks, and cars? To your credit, you do, occasionally, hold your brother’s doll (the one Grandma and Grandpa got for him the day you were born) and feed her milk from her bottle but that interest is never more than a minute or two. You are also definitely more attached to your little blankie, the one your brother absolutely did NOT care for. That curvy Barbie you got for your first Hanukkah last year, though, you have never cared much for her. Would a non-curvy Barbie have made a difference? Don’t worry about these questions, honey – these are your mother’s problems.
This year, for Hanukkah, you got Dinoco Cruz and you were so excited. You watched how your brother played with his own gift, Jackson Storm, and following his lead, did the same. It tickles me to hear you say “Ning Ning” whenever you see an image of Lightening McQueen on toys, books, clothes, or really, anywhere and everywhere.
You love climbing into things – boxes, baskets, bags..if you can gain a foothold, you are in, making it your temporary resting spot. Cute. Very cute. You love climbing, in general. You are always climbing. You learned very early that it is great to have the advantage of height and lo and behold, you figured a way out. You drag anna’s step stool from the bathroom, no matter how inconveniently bulky it is for you to carry, and place it wherever you need that advantage of height – usually the kitchen counter but the table, pantry, bookshelf…basically anywhere.
You love taking things with you to bed (I’ll have a separate post about that some time soon) – from books, to bath toys to whatever catches your fancy on a particular day, you love holding on to things and having them comfort or entertain you as you sleep. You also like holding on to random things in the car – from toys to bread (see pic above – you carried those loaves of bread from the store to the carseat to our home) to books to jackets to really just about anything that catches your fancy. You, just like your brother did at this age, like taking off your shoes and socks once seated in the car. While this is not a big deal in and of itself, it can get really annoying when we are in a rush like when we hurrying to drop or pick anna up from school. It’s still cute though and thanks to your brother, I know that this is just a phase 🙂 and I am usually prepared for it when I come over to your side.
I could continue on and on but I am already over 3000 words so I’ll save the rest for my next letter, dear baby.
We love you so, so much. You make our family complete. Thank you for you. I feel extremely privileged to be your mother,