Month eleven

Dear Eleanor,

Today you turned 11 months old. I think all three of us would rather forget this past month. First you came down with a cold. Then I got sick, and then Dad, and then you got the flu. We’ve finally all recovered, and these past few days have felt magical just because we’re healthy.

Even when you were sick, you still loved to eat. When you see me with food, you always want a bite. And I almost always share, assuming that you’ll learn to stop begging when you taste whatever I’m eating. Surely a baby wouldn’t like lentil soup. Or cooked spinach. But you eat it all. When you get a little older, you’re going to be appalled that you ate cooked spinach. That tops the List of Yuck for most kids. A few things that kids would rather eat: dirt, bugs, dog food.

As I fed you one day, I opened my mouth to see if you would share, and you did. You pushed your chubby fist toward me and stuck a piece of carrot in my mouth. Same with a banana. But the day you were eating cheese and I opened my mouth, well, that was different. You held the cheese next to my mouth but refused to let go. You snatched it back and put it in your own mouth. You looked pleased with yourself. Yes, you appreciate my giving you life and all, but that piece of cheese is way too much to ask in return.

When I started this whole Mom job, I didn’t intend to buy you any dolls unless you asked for them. I didn’t want you to be stereotyped because of your gender. Alas, a few dolls have shown up anyway, and your favorite is a Cabbage Patch Kid that used to belong to Dad. I don’t know how to break this to you nicely, so I’m just going to say it. Eleanor, your baby is homely. Lyndon Lionel has blue paint on his bald head, and he’s wearing a little tan get-up that makes him look like a prison inmate. Like a good mother, you love him anyway. You drag him around the house with you, and I’ve showed you how to pat him on the back. You do this incessantly, though most of the time your pats land on his face or head so it looks more like you’re hitting him.

The good news is that all of your care-taking has transferred to the pets as well. You’ve started patting Winston on the head just like you do with Lyndon. You’re a little rough sometimes, but Winston has been so tolerant of you that it almost makes me forgive all his past hostilities.

You’re spending a lot of time talking, though I’m having a hard time trying to decipher it. You can mimic many sounds I make but won’t say anything on queue. Lately, you’ve been saying “Whee!” or maybe it’s “Oui!” I prefer to think it’s the latter, that you’re already fluent in French and Dad should whisk us off to Paris right away.

We’ve started taking you out in public more now that we can keep you entertained with toys. We’ve taken you out to eat a few times, and I’ve taken you to story time at the library. The interesting thing is that you already seem to have a public persona. When we’re around new people, you tend to be quieter and more serious. Everyone comments on your furrowed brow. You have that side at home, but you also have a boisterous side. You shriek as you race toward us on hands and knees. You dissolve into giggles as we tickle you. I know this is a lesson lost on a baby, but I do hope that someday you’ll love yourself as you are. Don’t feel that you have to dress a certain way or like a particular type of music or hold a certain belief so that others will like you. People are only worth having as friends if they like you for who you are. Dad and I couldn’t love anyone more than our cheese-hogging, furrowed-brow baby.