Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Dear Fern (part XVII)

Dear Fern,

In your seventeenth month, you decided to trust the members of your extended village.

One afternoon you went to the playground with your Aunt Morgan and Uncle Luke. You see them in pictures all the time, but they live in Chicago so you haven't gotten to enjoy them since Christmas. No matter, though -- you pulled them into the swings and up the slide without a thought to how far away your mom and dad were. After all, aunties and uncas are just as good at playing Up! Whee! Watwa! as your more familiar relations! You got cozy like that with a lot of folks lately... our old friend Angie, your Uncle Greg, and dozens of others in our extended circle.

This month, you invented a somewhat credible "run." From your bouncy toddle you roll up onto the balls of your feet -- cue parent anxiety here --, throw all your weight to one side -- we swallow hard --, catch yourself with a toe, overbalance and nearly topple before you land the other foot -- that pounding noise is just our hearts --, and thus canter on in a barely controlled careen, as if you're sliding down a hill that's just a little too steep to walk.

Sometimes -- OK, a lot of times -- you take a tumble. Mostly, you aren't bothered a bit, and we're pretty proud of your solidness. Maybe because we always roughhoused with you, you seem to regard upside down and sideways as perfectly legitimate attitudes. When a random playground mom fusses over you after a fall, you usually give her a sort of pitying look, as if to say "Get over it!"

You concentrate really intensely. On a plane this month, you spent twenty minutes opening and shutting the window shades. The first day you figured out that you could autonomously climb the stairs, sit, and go down the slide, you repeated it about thirty times. Unfortunately, this focus comes out best with novel experiences: anything you've already accomplished (like, say, eating) tends to take a back seat to your thirst to explore more.

Oh, one last thing: you learned to brush stray strands of hair from your face this month. We expect you'll perfect this gesture over the next few years while we have control over your hair, until that sad future day when you'll crop it short as a rebellious teenager.

So your seventeenth month ends today, and as we enter the last month of your first sesquiannum, it's getting harder to call you "the baby." You talk and act more like a little girl, and although we miss your infant helplessness, we're excited by each new accomplishment, which these days come pretty much daily.

We love you very, very much,

Mommy & Daddy

If you can't see the slide show, click here.