Month fifteen

Dear Eleanor,

Yesterday you turned 15 months old. Your dad and I were looking through recent photos of you last night, trying to find a picture of you smiling. We looked at photos from the past week. Nothing. Then from two weeks ago. Nope. We had to go back three weeks to find a smile. I do think that you’re having fun, but you take life oh-so-seriously. I’m sure that you’re going to do wonderful work at the UN or on the Supreme Court someday.

Perhaps the problem is this messy house we’re subjecting you to. You’re always pulling the Swiffer out of the pantry or using the washcloth to wipe your high chair after dinner (instead of your face, of course). You spend hours walking around with raspberries smeared in your hair, but that high chair is spotless.

One night after you had gone to bed, your dad and I sat down to watch a movie, but we couldn’t find the TV remote. We both got up and started to check the usual spots — the TV cabinet and the couch cushions. Then we looked under the furniture, figuring you had hidden it. Ten minutes later, your dad unearthed it in the drawer of our coffee table. This is the same place you often hide the coasters. Oh, I’m sorry. Did I say “hide”? I meant “put away.” I share your neat-freak tendencies, and I’m pretty sure that between the two of us, your father is never again going to be able to find his possessions.

The one place you do get messy is outside. Every time I let Abe out the back door, you come barreling over and squeeze through. And you’ve learned that we wear shoes outside, so if I’m washing the dishes or doing some other boring chore, you will carry a shoe over to me and try to put it on my foot. Because if I’m wearing shoes, I clearly have to go outside. You get into the yard and walk in a few circles, picking up leaves and bits of grass, occasionally stuffing them in your mouth before I race over. Sometimes your hands get dirty, and then you hold them in front of you and shake them as though alien beings have become attached to your body. Ack! Dirt! You cannot go on living like this!

You seem to be walking a line between babyhood and childhood, sometimes needing to be held and sometimes desperate to explore on your own. I do have to keep you from eating bugs and leaping off of our stairs, but I’m trying to give you a little space to grow up, too. Because that part is just as important as keeping the bugs out of your mouth.