Saturday, March 03, 2007

Dear Fern (part XIII)

Dear Fern,

I have really enjoyed using the nice round term "a year" when people ask how old you are. You're doing everything a good one-year old should: your walking is coming along really well, you pick up new words (in English and sign language) nearly daily, and you're discovering new skills (like dumping things out of other things).

This month, though, I am paying special attention to your emotional development. It's been a challenging month for us, with difficulties facing many in our family and loved ones. So maybe I'm projecting, but I imagine that your sentiments about and toward others are starting to emerge.

One day this month, at the playground, you encountered a ball-stealer. (These are fairly common in the one-year old set, and you, in fact, play the role pretty frequently yourself!) In this instance, you didn't cry out or lunge after your stolen property, but you didn't disconnect and move on, either. You just looked at the other baby with an impenetrable expression. You showed that you were annoyed, certainly, but it was mixed with a question, almost a sense of wonder about this other being and his actions. It seemed as if you were trying to figure out why anyone would snatch a ball like that.

Do one-year olds ask these kinds of "Why" questions? I have no idea. I expect I'm grownupopomorphizing. But there was definitely something there. Other examples float up in my memory, too… You've started hugging both me and your mom a lot more without being prompted, often when you don't seem to be either seeking comfort or hiding. You’ll be playing in the living room when suddenly you turn, hug your mom or me, and then go on with what you were doing. It’s pretty charming.

At the playground, you're over your stranger anxiety. You approach other parents, climb on them, even hug them... not quite as often as some of the other kids do, but a couple of times a day. At home, you're suddenly very attentive to dolls (and stuffed animals, to some degree). You have two baby bottles that you feed them with, and if a doll isn't handy, you feed me or your mom. Or the cat.

It's hard to predict your adult personality from what we see now, but one thing seems clear: you're going to be cheerful. Thoughtful too, I'll bet. And pretty curious. Not without tearful episodes, unfortunately, but always consolable. (You’ve started complaining and even crying a lot more this month when you don’t get what you want.)

After that, though, the signs of your future persona become hazier. Will you like animals, sports, dolls, or trucks? (All of the above, at the moment.) It seems equally likely from this distant vista that you’ll be a novelist, a sorghum farmer, or a professional roller derby skater.

Whatever will be, will be. We’re sure having a great time watching as you figure it out, though.

Much love,

Mommy & Daddy