Month seventeen

Dear Eleanor,

Today you turned 17 months old. Like a summer action movie, this month has been louder, faster and higher. You are a wild woman, and having seen how you throw yourself toward danger at this tender age, I fear I will never be able to let you get behind the wheel of a car. Just plan to live someplace with good public transportation.

How high can you climb? Well, we aren’t sure yet, but you’re trying to answer this question daily. You throw the upper half of your body over our office chair and then drag yourself up with your arms. Hey, look at that, now that you’re on the chair, it’s so easy to climb onto the desk. And now you can lay on our computer keyboards and pound the keys. What fun! I expect Daddy will finally be getting that new computer he wants because you’ll break our current one any day now.

This climbing scenario plays out in every room of the house. You have climbed onto the kitchen table and and have even started to work on scaling our bookcases. You love to bounce on our couches, and when you look like you’re about to fly off head-first, Dad and I lunge to catch you. Then you pull back and laugh mischievously because it is so funny that you can scare Mom and Dad.

When something is a little too high for you to climb, you shriek in frustration.  You’ve been slow to talk, though you understand us just fine, and I think you’re getting upset that we don’t grasp your babble. Americans are just so ignorant of foreign languages. The words that you have learned give good insight into your interests: shoes, dog, ball, out. I’m always asking you to identify objects, and you’re pretty clever about it. I’ll point at something and say, “What is that?” and you’ll answer, “that.” Duh, Mom! You just told me. So I’ll ask, “What is this?” and you’ll answer “this.”

What you lack in vocabulary, you make up for in physicality. You are close to hitting an outright run as you scamper about the house. You love to go outside and play with a hose and bucket. I can’t count how many times I’ve changed your clothes this month because I’ve let you soak yourself with the hose. But I’m happy to do it. I love how a bucket of water equals an afternoon of entertainment for you.

I hope you carry that attitude through life. Your dad and I have made a conscious decision not to provide you with tons of toys and not to provide ourselves with them either. This is not to say we’re deprived. We have a wonderful home and life, and you live across the street from a playground and a swimming pool, which makes you one lucky kid. We live in a country where people tend to buy a lot of things and spend a lot of time working to pay for those things. We hope you’ll see that kicking a soccer ball or playing with your dog or dancing to music, or, heck, splashing in a bucket of water, is as much fun as fiddling with the newest gadget. And that someday, your sweetest memories will not be of sitting in front of a screen but of playing beneath the blue Texas sky in the shade of a grand oak tree.