Month eleven — Henry

Dear Henry,

Yesterday you turned 11 months old. The only thing you want at the moment is to grasp my fingers for balance and explore the world on your own two feet. You ignore the toys that I thrust at you. You ignore the toys that others thrust at you. You will not be sidetracked by these shenanigans. You are going to be an Olympic-caliber walker. Someday. If you can ever bring yourself to let go of my fingers, which so far, you cannot do.


I am often struck by the differences in parenting your sister and you. A few weeks ago, we took you to the zoo. Your sister was nearly the same age on her first trip to the zoo, and I remember us holding her high to see the animals and talking to her as if she were in veterinary school. And you, well, you sat in the stroller until the last 10 minutes of the trip when I pointed out that you probably hadn’t even been able to see the animals. Sorry, kid.


You’re doing your best to get our attention. The second we turn our backs, you’re climbing the stairs. Dad let you climb part way a few weeks ago, and now that is all you want to do. When I come over to grab you, you climb faster. You also love to dig in the sediment at the bottom of our gas fireplace and get sooty smudges all over yourself. Yes, our baby-proofing is lacking.


Your sister loves you lately. Looooves you. She picks you up beneath your arms and carries you around until your face turns red. She wrestles with you on the floor until your face turns red. She seems to be suffocating you most of the time, but you’re so happy to have her attention that you don’t say a word. Sometimes you even laugh, usually when I’m reprimanding her for being too rough. Can I get a little help here, please, Henry?


For so long, it was just Eleanor, your dad, and I. Long after you were born, I thought of myself as Eleanor’s mom. Then I would remember: Oh yeah, and I have this baby, too. I can feel this starting to shift. You are growing into a kid, a little person who wants to play with me and interact with other children. I will be very sad to leave the baby stage behind, but that sadness is tempered by my excitement to see who you become. Go climb mountains, Henry.