Month ten

Dear Eleanor,

Today you turned 10 months old. These past few weeks have helped me fully understand why people have babies. Not only are you fun to watch, but now you want to play with Dad and I. You actually like us!

You’ve started to share your toys, which is so sweet. You’ll grasp something in your pudgy hand and hold it out to us until we take it. And we cheer and thank you as though you have handed us the keys to a new car. Dad and I were excited for your first Christmas, but you didn’t have much idea what was happening. You did get excited though when Dad taught you to shake the rattle that Santa brought. Now you hold it out so that we’ll help you shake it faster, and you unfurl the biggest grin as your little body jiggles with the motion.

You’re joining us at the table for most meals. We’re happy to let you crawl around, but you always make your way to my chair, pull to standing and then beg for scraps. I think you spend too much time watching the dog.

So we strap you into your high chair and hand you bites, which you happily stuff into your mouth. We have to remember to pause for your chewing; otherwise, you cram food in like a 300-pound man in an eating contest. You will stuff an entire cup of bananas or cheese in your mouth, your cheeks puffing up like a hamster’s, and then wail because your mouth is so full that you can’t chew. Then I fish out all of those slobbery pieces while you fight me off with your dagger teeth. Keeping you alive is a daily battle.

Your Dad and I agreed long ago that we would let you choose your own interests. Dad wouldn’t force you to do tae kwon do, and I wouldn’t force you to dance. But that was before I found out that you love to stand on your toes. You spend so much time on your tiptoes that I’m actually concerned you might never put down your heels and walk. I’ll stand by the agreement, but I’m telling you, Eleanor, you were born to dance.

Even if Dad and I did tell you what to do, your response would be “Nooooo!” You love to shake your head. The more that Dad and I try to teach you to nod “yes,” the more wildly you shake “no.”  Do you want a cookie? No! Do you want more kisses? No! You joyously protest every good thing.

The past few days we were in Illinois to visit family. One of the greatest joys of being your mom is seeing the cheer you spread to others. Your grandparents and great-grandpa glow when they see you. Watching you put all that happiness into the world has changed me. I spend far less time being negative and angry, and I find it difficult to tolerate these traits in others. I hope to make the world a happier place, a place more worthy of your joy.