Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Eleven months and counting!

Dear Fern,

You're in the home stretch of your first year! We're just now getting back into our pre-holiday routine, so it's a little hard to tease out actual developmental steps from reactions to all the Christmas travel and turmoil. Still, it's clear that many of the challenging aspects of your babyhood are fading, and quickly being replaced by premonitions of even more challenging toddlerhood.

Knocking on wood while I type, you are sleeping more solidly and getting to sleep faster than before, with fewer evening wakings. I think it's because we're being strict about your sleep routine. It might help that you're eating like a champion, and I suppose you must be feeling more comfortable in your bed, too, so that it's not uncommon for you to go to sleep at 8 p.m. and not wake up at all until about 4 a.m. (Yes, four in the morning, so if you're rereading this as an adult, I hope you appreciate that!)

You had a little cold this month, your second so far. It lasted a little longer than the first, but like last month's, it didn't seem to slow you down one bit. You still love to sneeze, and have taken to jumping on me when I sneeze, too, as if to capture the sneeze for yourself. It's a little startling.

Your smile gets bigger every day, and so does your capacity for mischief. You get into things really quickly, and if you're upset you can cry pretty loudly, but not for very long. I get the feeling that it's time for us to really watch our behavior. It seems that the way we respond to your joy and your tears is already having a major impact on your personality. Now's the time when we could really spoil you, so we're always careful to be loving but not smothering, to let you experiment but not fall too hard. It's probably our biggest challenge at the moment. 

You're still very verbal, but like I've said before, it's hard to say if you've said your first word (depending on how we define the word "word"). We're sure you've said "dada" and "mama," although sometimes you use them interchangeably with both of us, and possibly with the cat as well. You know how to ask for water, too, but it's less a word than a whine of a certain pitch. (Be assured, though, that it's not abstract; your mom and I instantly know that you need water when we hear that certain squeak.)

One unmistakable word you've learned is "milk," but it's not in English: it's the American Sign Language that we're using with you. You've been signing it for about two weeks now, albeit only for your mom, not for milk from a bottle. Daddy forgets to sign it with you.

Speaking with acknowledged bias, you are a really striking kid. We went to the park yesterday after a holiday hiatus, and you immediately attracted an entourage of faces both familiar and new. Several kids, all older and one who was probably at least three, followed you wherever you went. The three-year old wanted to have a conversation with you (oops!) and one cute two-year old girl kept bringing you toys and dropping them off. (You looked a little bewildered by that, to be honest.)

You aren't really verbal with other children yet, but nor are you aloof. I've noticed that you make solid and sustained eye contact more than the other babies seem to. All the babies like to grab each other, but in you I see a desire to make a connection: you'll try to touch a hand or a face, for example, rather than pulling at hair to see what it feels like. You grab sometimes, too, but it's less common than a stroke or a pat.

Still no walking or standing on your own, although occasionally, if you don't notice that you're standing, you'll stay up for a few seconds before plopping back on your butt. You pull up to stand with no apparent effort at all, though, and you'll walk with our support for many yards, so we're expecting that it'll be any day now that you toddle away on your own. (Probably when we're at the top of some unguarded stairs, or perhaps on a volcano observation platform. You have an uncanny ability to find danger where we hadn't noticed it.)

The holiday season has been fun and a little challenging, and you've been just fantastic through it all. Your personality is huge and ever-expanding, and as we chase after you on your learning adventures we're every day more excited, amazed, and sometimes bewildered by your burgeoning personhood.

Well done. Keep it up! 


Mommy & Daddy